May 6, 2011

Managing expectations

Back at the hospital after a month free of needles, canulas and hospital gowns.

The Trio of Tests or Big Three as I like to call them were completed yesterday. In the space of four hours:

  • I consumed radioactive sugar then had a sleep (for the PET)
  • was injected with contrast solution that made my mouth feel like I had eaten felt pens for lunch and made my groin feel like it was on fire - and not in a 'Oh yeah baby' kind of way (for the CT)
  • spent a half hour doof-doofing inside a plastic coffin (for the MRI)

'Good luck on Tuesday! Are you looking forward to the results from these tests?'

No. These tests are sort of formalities, and in fact, some hospitals don't even do them after chemoradiation treatment. These scans will only change the course of treatment if the tumour has disappeared entirely (unlikely) or the tumour has spread to other parts of my body (highly unlikely).

At best, the images from these tests will tell the medical team how likely it is that other organs will be affected by my surgery (remember that my greedy tumour attached itself to my rectum and is sitting next to my seminal vesical).

Interpreting these images is not straight forward either

Parts of the tumour could have died during chemoradiation therapy but still be present, so they will still show up on the CT and MRI. And the radiation therapy can cause inflammation around the tumour and obscure the resolution of the images. 

Once again, the full scenario won't be known until the surgeon is inside and can take a look around.

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