I’ve been having routine PET scans since I was first diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer (metastasis to liver) back in May 2008. At first they were every six months, but then once I became a member of the 5 Year Club they were reduced to once a year. And every time I’ve been scared witless, fearing I’d hear the worst after my scan. I am very fortunate that my friend Isabel is the head of Nuclear Medicine at my hospital, so she always has a look at my scan while I’m there and gives me the results on the spot. She’ll call me into the PET area and say “all normal, nothing to worry about” and then send me on my way, not quite believing my good fortune.
But today after my scan Isabel called me into a private office and asked me to sit down.
And well, it’s kind of good news / bad news. The good news is that my liver is clean, no signs of anything nasty going on there. The bad (or potentially bad) news is that the “area of inflammation” that has been showing up on my PET scans since 2008 has increased dramatically. Over the years this area has been constantly shrinking, with each PET scan showing it a bit smaller and, as long as it kept shrinking, it was always considered a result of scar tissue. Today Isabel told me that it is back to the size it originally was back in 2008. And so now I will have to undergo more tests – CAT scan, ultrasound, colonoscopy – to (hopefully!) rule out cancer. In theory it could be an inflammatory infection, complications due to the adhesions, or any other number of non-cancer-related issues. Or it could be cancer. And so, Isabel has taken steps to get me an appointment with Oncology asap so they can start the extra testing.
I’m annoyed that they didn’t take me seriously at Emergency when I went there complaining about the abdominal pain back in November (exactly two months ago today). My GP also blew me off when I went to ask him about it afterwards, saying I just had gas and should take a pain killer. And even when I saw an oncologist at the beginning of January, she was totally dismissive about my complaints (you need to lose weight, I’m sure it’s just gas), and reluctantly booked my next PET scan.
The good thing is that now Isabel is setting the wheels in motion for me to get the appropriate extra testing done and, more importantly, to have me taken seriously by these other doctors. Meanwhile I am fluctuating between absolute terror and total denial. How’s your day going?