Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Clarification On The Cancer Thang [C]
A Piece of Random Art in DC.
So, I think maybe my last two posts freaked some people out? At least that's what I've gathered from some calls to Dani & emails to me. And Honestly Dani & I freaked out on Friday. So much so that we cancelled a backpacking trip into the Adirondacks for this week in case the PET Scan was scheduled.
The question is: is this abnormal or is this gonna be a part of living with this crap? I'm gonna break it down here. Remember, I think while I type so God knows where this is going.
I. What's the Danger?
Any Cancer that's not completely obliterated the first time around is gonna come back like a Bat out of Hell and will be more often deadly than not. Hence the Uber caution & concern of my Dr. Initially, the abnormal CT scan would not have worried her. However, I have itching that appears to have no source. These two events put my Dr. on alert.
Itching could be from skeeters, the 12+ types of flora growing wild in our backyard, reaction to the Barium in the CT scan, Hodgkins. I haven't had that type of itching since Friday so I'm hoping that's a good sign
III. Abnormal CT Scan
The scan showed my Bone Marrow Cells (Stem cells) were growing at an accelerated rate in my abdominal area. This was evident in my last PET scan in May. It was expected then and not too shocking now in the CT Scan. during chemo Stem cells grow rapidly in younger patients. Now they might be trying to regenerate from the damage of chemo.
IV. How Fucked Up Were My Stem Cells?
The day of my last treatment my Cell counts were low. Low enough to cancel chemo. Since it was my last one my Dr. authorized treatment. In fact, as a safety precaution the treatment Center needed verbal authorization along with the piece of paper from her telling them to do it. So I'm thinking chemo with a low cell count really knocks one's cell count way down. Furthermore, since it was my last treatment I wouldn't be taking my Neupogen shots which stimulates cell growth.
So at this point I'd like to note I was pretty damn immunocompromised after my last treatment and did not get sick. Props to my Immune System, no? :D
So having a young, Killer (pun intended) Immune System, it's regenerating at a rapid rate and throwing the scan off.
V. PET Scan
Has yet to be scheduled. In any case, I believe it will also record a "false positive". There will be glowing from my cells regenerating rapidly. However, if it were Cancer the PET would pick up more intense "Foci". From my Last negative PET Analysis:
1. No definite evidence for a FDG avid malignant tumor
2. Diffusely increased FDG uptake in the axial and appendicular skeleton consistent with bone marrow hyperplasia secondary to chemotherapy. While such intense activity limits evaluation of the skeleton, given this limitation, there are no discrete foci suspicious for osseous metastatases.
FDG being the radio-tagged Glucose. So the PET scan will pick up what the CT scan can not. Or in this case (knock on wood, puhleeze), pick up what is not there.
This of course is a "disadvantage" to a "Blood Cancer". Leukemia/Lymphoma can be found anywhere and it might be difficult to discern. But solid organ cancer still seems far worse to me; Lung, Breast, Ovarian, Prostate, etc. And I know of people who have had worse false positives, being told they have a tumor only to find out it was a mistake.
What Can We Do?
We're doing it. I'm being vigilant. Gone are the days where I casually ignore something that's not quite right. My Doctor is being vigilant. I think some Doctors would not be so quick to schedule a PET. Since there is nothing more we can do then I choose to not live in fear. It was wrong to cancel the trip but I say that in hindsight. I was unprepared. I guess stuff like this will happen for the rest of my life, maybe? Can't let it interfer with living life, eh?
If the Dr. doesn't call in the next two days we will be off to the 'Dacks after the Labor Day weekend. I mean, I'm not so crazy that I would drive on a Holiday weekend. That's just asking for it.