On Monday, I had a PET scan, a scan using radioactive isotopes to help doctors locate cancer in the body. The test itself was pretty straight forward: They measured my glucose level by pricking my finger and gave me an injection of a glucose solution (hence, the reason I had to fast for six hours prior to the test and could have no carbs/sugar that day). After given period of time, they led me to another room where there was a big tube-like scanner. I laid down, took a nap, and was done.
Simple. Yes. It was the implications of the test that scared me more than I ever would admit. To understand my frame of mind, two past conversations need to be considered:
1) Dr. Duree, my surgeon, on 11/13: Your cancer is AT LEAST stage three. At stage three, you have a 50/50 chance of living five years. At stage four, you have a 30-percent chance at living five years.
2) Dr. Sweet, my oncologist on 11/17: A curative method of treatment is most appropriate for the cancer you have right now. Once we have the PET scan, if more cancer is found, we will consider moving to a control method of treatment. He went onto explain that a control method of treatment moves away from the idea that the cancer can be cured and focuses on extending my life by impeding the growth of the cancer. Under this method, aggressive chemotherapy is not used because the patient needs to be kept more comfortable, i.e. they have a much longer battle and presumably a lesser chance of survival.
Please know that the conversations are out of context and paraphrased. However, they are what was replaying in my head for the past week. Admittedly, I am not at my best on an empty stomach - so between that and my nerves, I was not in a good place on Monday afternoon. That being said, I got through the test and Steve, the kids and my radioactive self, went out for a nice steak dinner last night. Never had filet tasted better.
So, the good news.....I spoke with Dr. Sweet today and preliminary readings of the PET scan do not show any definitive signs of cancer elsewhere in my body! This means that the curative method of treatment that Dr. Sweet has recommended stands! Dr. Sweet also let me know that the HER2 test came back negative. Cancer that is HER2 positive is generally more aggressive - so this is good news.
I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I know we have a long battle ahead of us, still. However, tonight, Steve and I celebrated as if we had won the lottery. Maybe we should have bought a ticket?