I returned from Houston last night after a two-day trip for essentially one appointment at M.D. Anderson. As you may remember from my last visit, they recommended a PET CT scan for a better look at the area of concern in my brain. After speaking to the team in Minneapolis who doesn’t do these types of scans, I decided to fly back down for the test. And I’m so glad I did.
As a little bit of background, the PET CT started with an injection of a radioactive material, followed by resting for about an hour in a protected cube while that material spread through my body/brain. I was then brought to the scan which looked a lot like a CT (with the large whirling machine spinning around me) combined with an MRI (a long tube that I passed through). However, I learned that unlike a regular CT or MRI which measures actual mass and size of the tumor, a PET CT measures glucose levels in the tumor. Dr. Wolff explained that a growing tumor would have very high glucose levels, and that any area of my brain with such levels would show up bright on the scan.
My scan started around 9:00am and including the resting time, I was done around noon. When I first arrived for my 1:00 visit, the scan had just started to be posted to the system that Dr. Wolff accesses, so the film he pulled up didn’t show much of anything. In looking at the “results” I remember thinking “I flew all the way down here for this???” So we decided I should come back in a few hours once he had access to the full results and reading from the radiologist. So I went back to the hotel and took a nap.
When I returned it wasn’t more than a few minutes before Dr. Wolff arrived with a grin on his face, and I knew what that meant. He brought up the results on the computer and I could immediately see the good news too. There was nothing seemingly close to bright in the areas surrounding my tumor. Of course, my mind was filled with questions.
“Does this mean it’s slow growing?”
“Does this mean it’s small?”
Dr. Wolff was very quick to interrupt. “Just enjoy that bit of news,” he told me. So we paused for a bit before I forced myself to ask the questions. :)
As it turns out, the news IS largely good. There are no signs of fast growth of a tumor in my brain. But these results conflict with those from earlier this spring with the MRI, so it will mean continued closely-watched results from future scans. I’ll be back in Houston in August/September for my next visit and we’ll go forward from there.
I left the appointment, following Dr. Wolff talking to another doctor about how rare it is that he gets to give good news.
After the appointment, I went back to my hotel and made a few calls to share the great news. And when those were done I just had to get out of that room and clear my mind. It’s the hardest thing to explain, but after weeks of prepping myself for the worst, it was hard to accept/understand the good news. After a couple hours of “Up” in 3D (I recommend you see it), my head was a lot clearer and I went to celebrate with Mission Burrito and Amy’s Ice Cream. It seems to bring me good luck. :)
The picture above is from the previous weekend when I visited with some friends in Chicago. These are the friends that have been with me since the first days of this cancer mess, back in high school. It was great to see them.
Hope you’re all well!