Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Best Test EVER

I had to "fast" last night to go in for a PET scan this morning. It really wasn't that bad in terms of hunger. The food rules though....ugh....the food rules! No caffeine, no sugar (at all - no fruit), no carbs, no starches, etc. It was out of control. I almost didn't eat because everytime I looked at the "do not eat" list, whatever I was about to eat was on it! Also, there's a countdown list: 24 hours before/12 hours before/8 hours before. How the hell am I supposed to remember this? How did people figure this out before smartphones?

Around lunch time, I almost freaked out because I bought a juice that had beets in it. Luckily, I determined (thanks to Google), that it was okay. PET scans are kind of funny. If you look at a PET scan prep list (here's a good one: http://www.texasoncology.com/uploadedFiles/For_Patients_and_Public/Patient_Resources/Forms/Instructions-for-the-PET.pdf) there are some prep items that are kind of unexpected: don't exercise and keep warm for 24 hours. Weird.

Now that it's all over, here's what I have to say: PET scans are AWESOME. I loved it.

First of all, the PET scan tech reminded me of this guy I know who has the most effective, cheesy sense of humor. It was fabulous! Plus, he was Indian, which totally inspires trust within me. I told him that I don't mind needles, but I can't look at them when they go inside of me. He says, "Me too, that's why I didn't look when I stuck it in." I don't even remember if I laughed, but it was hilarious! So, here's what I learned from the awesome Indian man (and a little from the interwebs):

1) PET scans for someone like me, who is diagnosed with breast cancer, use sugar to determine if there is a tumor in any part of the body being scanned. For me, this is mid-thigh up to my head. Cancer likes sugar, cancer attracts sugar, so the sugar will pool and be concentrated at sites where there are tumors. The radioactive part makes it glow.

2) Once he determines my blood sugar is okay (it's great...FYI) he's going to inject me with some radioactive sugar. This radioactive sugar is legit. It comes in this crazy metal container that is more than an inch thick and is totally out of a sci-fi movie.
3) I have to be warm because shivering will make the PET scan machine (scientific name, in case you were wondering) less accurate.
4) After I have radioactive sugar in my body (seriously, how cool), I must lie in the room with zero stimulation - no reading, no Candy Crush (I asked), no music, NOTHING. Can I sleep? Yes, sweet baby Jesus, I am allowed to sleep.
5) MOST IMPORTANTLY, because I must be warm, he wraps me in warm blankets so that I can sleep. No joke, this guy tells me that I cannot move, I must be in this dark room, and I must be wrapped in warm blankets. There was no better way for me to spend an hour this morning.

After the nap and the scan in the machine, I run around the medical complex gathering my medical records to deliver to City of Hope tomorrow. The PET scan tech tells me that he'll put in a rush for my slides and that I can come back after going to medical records to pick up the CD. I roll into work earlier than expected.

I don't really know how to feel about the City of Hope tomorrow. I don't see how the information can be different, more likely than not...it's going to be a different doctor telling us something we've already heard. It's worth it though, if we meet a doctor that gives us more promising news about fertility and starting a family soon. That's too much to give up.

ETA on 11/17/2013: I edited a statement above where I said that cancer cells ingest sugar. It's not true. They attract sugar and the sugar pools to the tumor locations. There is still some correlation though, between sugar consumption and cancer. Here is a link from MD Anderson: http://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/issues/2012-november/cancersugar.html

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