I have decided to honour my dear friend Avis by attempting today’s blog in English. She and a few other English speaking readers have been following my blog with great effort in Afrikaans. Avis was the pretty and petite woman from Reach for Recovery, who visited me in hospital after my first operation. Since then she became a gym companion in both aqua-classes and aerobics. Our husbands also share the same hobbies so we became friends easily. She simply insisted on driving me all the way to Little Company Hospital and stayed with me until my procedure started. I never expected to have so much fun today! We were almost thrown out for laughing too loud and talking too much! Afterwards I was rewarded with a red velvet cupcake and two gingerbread men for the boys from my favourite bakery – Fournos. Thank you so much Avis!
I thought I would go all nuclear when I heard about the thing in my lung, but so many people carried me through. I was once again overwhelmed by al the empathy and love from friends and family from all over. I do not know the results of my Pet scan yet, but I wanted to blog about it anyway, because so many people asked detailed questions about the procedure. So here follows my recollection and non-medical description of the events. I also dedicate this to Paul and others who will have to go through this in the future.
PET scans for dummies
- On the day before your Pet scan you can eat no starch or sugar. If you can – do not book your scan for a Monday… So you can eat eggs, plain meat, salad, certain veggies like mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower and baby marrows and cheese and nuts. No other dairy, fruit, grains, coffee, tea and obviously dessert, chips and anything you usually eat on a Sunday!
- On the morning of your procedure you are allowed to eat a small portion of protein, but I had to set my alarm for 04:35 for that privilege.
- When you get to the hospital they go through your whole medical history to understand your body better. They want to know about every bump, bruise or trauma you ever suffered because it explains the appearance of your cell tissue.
- They then inject you with a huge needle filled with a radio active sugar solution worth R 5000. It is ordered according to your exact weight and expires if you are late for your appointment. They also inject iodine and leave you with a big bottle of horrible contrast liquid to drink every fifteen minutes.
- You are then covered and left for an hour with strict instructions not to talk, read or listen to music. Only your vital organs are suppose to work and only they and cancerous cells will show metabolic activity. Even shivering will cause your fat cells to show activity. I had to wait for an hour and a half and honestly the bitter contrast cocktail was the worse part of the day. Oh and the injection in my hand, because apparently I do not have veins left in my arm!
- The tunnel is just a bit longer and the process a lot slower, but no more uncomfortable than a CT scan. They drive you through on a very thin ironing board and you have to lie very still with arms above your head for half an hour.
- Take a sandwich and snacks with you as you will spend another hour in a cooling down room in your own company. Your own clothes and coffee there will immediately return your dignity and sugar levels.
- After they are sure you are no longer a radio active threat to society, they send you on your way with colour printouts and a CD full of data. Despite my vow to never peak again, me and Pieter decided to check for bright yellow spots as that is obvious signs of cancer. I told the boys I am going to a big photo shoot today and they were quite interested in this in-depth photos of mommy! We are very excited about all the blue areas and all worked up about the yellow spots that could be organs, but we soon realised we are not equipped to interpret anything.
I can only see my oncologist in a week’s time, but hopefully my physician can shed some light on the subject on Wednesday this week. In the meantime I do what all cancer patients do – ride out the storm, surf out the wave and hope for the best. These tests is not getting easier, but more familiar and reminds you to never underestimate this disease and celebrate each healthy day.
And that is exactly what we did on Saturday’s Survivor day. Our amazing oncology angels once again gave us an amazing day to celebrate each heartbeat. All of my friends on this journey with me – and our spouses had the privilege to listen to each other’s stories and beat our Djembe (West African drum) until our hands hurt. I was sad to learn that last year’s inspirational speaker Jaco has since passed away. What a privilege to have known him and appreciate second chances.
Here is me and Hettie and the candle that is burning in her kitchen for me until next week!