With our trip to Vancouver now "in the books", it's a bit of a waiting game now as we head over to the BC Cancer Agency in Kelowna next week for kind of a wrap up consultation.
The run into Vancouver was not particularly eventful at all. We made the same trip back in mid-August when all of this began, so I suppose the trip last weekend was something we knew we'd be dealing with eventually. My appointment was at 9:00am on Monday, which is good because a requirement is that you fast for at least six hours. That means nothing but water and not even a stick of gum! The upside as well is that we could hit the road by lunch time and travel during daylight.
An appointment in the middle of the afternoon would be a drag. How do you wake up and avoid food for most of the day?
In Vancouver, the Cancer Agency is right next door to Vancouver General Hospital and about a block from our hotel. I was taken into a small room where the nurse inserted an IV. About 20 minutes later, in comes the radioactive stuff, kind of a sugar solution she injected. After that, it was 45 minutes of quiet and rest as the fluid made its way throughout my system. There is nothing painful about any of this, other than the boredom.
Then, over to the diagnostic imaging room for about a 20-minute deal. I laid down, the gals taped my feet together, then they wrapped my arms tightly to my body with a huge, heavy blanket. The idea is to ensure I didn't move around. The scan, they say, takes 23 minutes.
So that's it! We hopped into the car and away we went, back to Kelowna!
CT Scan (January 22, 2013)...By all accounts, this scan showed positive results. The lymph node on the right side of my neck has shrunk significantly. Now, this node was NEVER the problem! It swelled as it reacted to the primary site of the cancer. So, this is the little bugger that really only did its job for me! It swelled to about 1.7cm and is now about 9mm. I have to really search with my fingers to locate it.
As far as the primary site of the tumor, which was the base of my tongue, imagine this as a "cylinder" with a bulge on one side...the bulge being the tumor or lesion. Well, there is no evidence of this "bulge" anymore. So, more good news!
This was actually confirmed to us after Dr. Bachand snaked a scope down my throat back on Dec. 13, so having it confirmed by the CT Scan is comforting.
Basically, it sounds like the chemotherapy and radiation treatments got the job done.
PET CT Scan (January 28, 2013)...Again this was done in Vancouver. No results yet. The injection prior to this scan is a fluid that attaches itself to cancer cells. There was plenty of activity back in August during my first PET CT Scan, so the comparative results from earlier this week do have me a bit on edge. We'll see what happens when we look over the results next week!
I have a few for the medical team. I don't really know how much of this relates to the treatment and how much of it relates to the reality that I am presenting the medical team with "50-year-old equipment"!
1. I had a baseline hearing test done before treatment. When do I have my hearing checked again, to see what damage was potentially done? (It was suggested prior to treatment that the drug used during the chemotherapy sessions could have a negative effect on my hearing.)
2. I have noticed a change in my eyesight. How might the treatment have affected my eyes? (I can see a 20-foot putt drop into the cup, but I cannot see my golf ball beyond about 225 yards. I can see how beautiful my wife is when she walks down the stairs, but I can't read traffic signs from as far away as I could a few months ago.)
3. My throat still hurts, but it's kind of "off and on". What's normal about this, 12 weeks after treatment?
4. I have lost about six pounds since the middle of December, yet I am eating regularly. I feel pretty good, but should I be concerned?
5. How might the radiation and chemotherapy affected my thyroid?
6. Facial hair...it's back!! Although I can't find a hint of peach fuzz on my neck. What gives?
7. Salivary Glands: My mouth is really dry, so probably the most noticeable effect/inconvenience I am dealing with. We have four of these glands. How many of mine have been destroyed? Is this permanent?
8. I have had blood work done three times since mid-December and the numbers look good...everything heading in the right direction. What do we look for moving forward?
More to come next week...