Saturday, March 10, 2007

March 9, 2007 - All Clear, Sort Of

Today, Claire and I go to Dr. Lerner’s office, to hear the results from the PET/CT fusion scan and accompanying CT scans I had several days ago. I go in first, for my port flush and blood draw. Then, Claire joins me in the examining room, as we wait for the doctor.

We both wonder why we haven’t heard anything beforehand from the office staff. With every other scan I’ve had since my chemo ended, someone from the doctor’s office has phoned us with a brief synopsis of the results, letting us know things looked basically OK. This time, the phone didn’t ring. Does this mean there’s bad news coming?

How easily our minds embrace the worst possible outcome!

As it turns out, there’s been no call because there’s been nothing to report. The test results have only arrived today, Dr. Lerner tells us. He’s reading the radiologist’s narrative report for the first time, in our presence, although he did have a chance to examine the films a little earlier.

The news is basically good. “The belly is fine,” the doctor tells us, in his measured, dispassionate, Hippocratic tones. No change in the size or appearance of the scar tissue remaining from the abdominal mass. No other hot spots on the PET-scan films, either – with one exception. A “sub-mandibular lymph node” – one located just below my right jawbone – is lit up, indicating it’s a bit swollen.

Dr. Lerner asks if I’ve had a cold recently. Well, as it so happens, I have. About two weeks ago. Sore throat, nasal congestion, then a cough that settled in my chest. It lasted the better part of a week. I remember this clearly, because it was the first illness I’ve had, since finishing chemotherapy in May. That seemed rather remarkable to me, to have such a long run of good health without even so much as the sniffles.

That could account for the swollen lymph node, the doctor tells us. The radioactive sugar solution from the PET scan heads right for areas of high metabolic activity, shining a searchlight on the fastest-growing cells. Cancer is one possible explanation for swollen lymph nodes, but a simple infection – like the common cold – is another.

Dr. Lerner has me sit on the examining-table, while he feels for swollen nodes. He takes a much longer time palpating my neck this time, just below my right jaw. He says he feels nothing out of the ordinary: “nothing to write home about.” If I had an infection several days ago, when I went for the scans, it’s gone now.

We’re relieved, of course.

Even so, the doctor asks me to come back in two months, for both blood work and a physical exam – one month sooner than usual. It’s just a precaution, he assures us.

We wish there were a more resounding affirmation, but we’ll take what we can get.

1 comment:

ben said...

Congratulations.

Glad to hear your body is keeping up with your healthy outlook.