We’ve got a PET scan today. It’s sort of something we’ve been putting off for a while. We were supposed to have an MRI last year but Medicare wouldn’t cover it and we couldn’t afford it. We were unable to see our oncologist because of Covid and hadn’t seen him since finishing chemo in June. We had the follow up CT scans (they were clear) but when we were initially diagnosed we ended up being riddled with cancer and the CT had missed all bar the grapefruit sized tumour on our ovary, so I haven’t got a whole lot of faith in them.
It’s not so much the fear of what the scan might reveal (although that’s definitely up there), but the cannula. Blood tests and needles had never phased any of us to my knowledge, we grew up around needles as our father worked in a pathology department back in the days when you could take your kid to work and I know we spent a reasonable amount of time in the lab and going on ward rounds.
So, PET scans involve a cannula and an injection of a radioactive isotope (unfortunately not one that gives any sort of super powers). You have to fast before the test which can make me feel kind of queasy already, you have to wear a gown (can be triggering for us) and then they stick you in a tiny room where you have to sit perfectly still for 45min (can’t even take your phone in) while the isotope – which is delivered through a line coming in the wall sci-fi style- does it’s thing, then they do the actual scan which involves going into a tiny tube the top of which is inches from your face.
I’m not a big fan of small spaces. Closing your eyes and not opening them until it’s over can help with that though. Unfortunately chemo has really messed my ambivalence towards needles up. It isn’t so much the needle itself, it’s the smell of the alcohol wipe. It instantly transports me back to the hospital and I am immediately nauseous. In that tiny room, the smell lingers and… ugh. I’m really not looking forward to it.
DID unfortunately doesn’t work like the movies, so I can’t just call out some braver more patient alter to deal with it all on our behalf. I remember past scans & procedures quite well so I seem to have been present for most or even all of them, there’s no reason why this would be any different.
The last PET scan we had was clear, with the ( potentially unreliable) CT scans as well, that technically means we have been considered in remission since chemo. Unfortunately in the last several months a bunch of symptoms we felt pre cancer diagnosis but had gone away after surgery, have come back and are getting slowly worse, along with a small lump. Due to Covid, we were only able to communicate this to our oncologist via Telehealth at the end of January and our GP was only able to order CT scans.
I’d been totally off pain killers since recovering from the surgery but I’m back to needing them everyday along with meds to sleep (although that is a combination of pain is more noticeable at night and a generally overactive brain). We have been overdoing it the last few months getting Mum’s place ready to sell but some of the symptoms like bladder issues, the lump, bloating and feeling full really quickly don’t seem like they could be related to that and are classic of recurring peritoneal metastasis.
On the bright side, if the cancer is back then we’ll be eligible for a terminal illness payment from my insurance which means we’d be able to just pay off our debts and maybe go on a holiday with the family (Covid pending). I don’t know how long those things take to pay out though so there’s the fear of being too sick to actually go on a holiday or dying first.
But I’m jumping ahead. Maybe there’s just a lot of scar tissue and some other simple explanation for the symptoms and the Cancer is still gone. I could be worried over nothing. The PET scan should tell us anyway. We have an appointment with the Oncologist next Wednesday so I guess we’ll find out then. Fingers crossed.