One of the things you learn about cancer is “the latest news” is perhaps the most fleeting descriptor in the English language. An item of info all too often can be described as “the latest” for, at the very most, only 24 hours or so.
For instance, yesterday I underwent a PET scan. My corpus was pried into from brow to shin by a multi-gazillion-dollar machine using rays and waves and computers and such. I was fed a juicy compound of the element fluorine and glucose via an IV. Then I was directed to sit in a darkened room for 45 minutes while the cocktail spread throughout my inner geography. Next, I was strapped onto a table and shoved into a claustrophobic ring for nearly an hour, where a rotating mechanism read the locales in my body where that tracer juice tended to accumulate.
A little science background, first. Don’t worry, there won’t be any math. The fluorine itself is radioactive. Not too much; just enough to show up on a readout produced by the rotating mechanism in the ring, itself emitting a penetrating wave and then sensing what happens to the positron-electrons it smashes into. The readout is a three-dimensional image of the body produced by a complicated computer algorithm showing the bounces and caroms and sub-atomic shrapnel caused by the waves. Follow me?
The radioactive compound tends to gather in masses that contain fast-reproducing cells — cancer. So, if the machine senses a pile of fluorine-flooded cells somewhere, the geek who reads the readout can say, Hey, that’s a tumor.
Dig the slideshow, below:
Now, we know where my worrisome tumor is — that’d be the olive pit on the left side of my neck next to my thyroid gland, the one I discovered while enjoying a brisk shower last spring. The nature of my olive pit indicates there has to be another one somewhere, ergo the search via PET scan.
Dr. Wu called me first thing this AM to give me the old good news/bad news routine. The good news? No tumors were found in my lungs or belly or any other worrisome hiding places. The bad? There are a couple more malignant tumors around my thyroid. That means I’ll not only have to go through radiation therapy — the prospect of which over the last week I’ve become at least somewhat reconciled to — but I’ll also have to do chemotherapy. That’s lousy, mainly because I’ll have to get a feeding tube installed in my belly so that nourishment can be injected directly into my stomach. Whoopie.
Suffice it to say this latest news — and, fingers crossed, this will indeed be the latest news for the remainder of this siege — has put me in a bit of a funk. I’ve given myself a good 12 hours to moan Woe is me! and then I expect to be back to emotional stasis of a sort by dinner time tonight. Again, fingers crossed.
Click On The Poster To Watch