Friday, September 18, 2015

The PET Scan

This PET Scan seemed so far off in the distant future when it was scheduled on June 15th.
Dr. Witek was pretty confident that he and his team plus the team at the VA had 'nailed' the throat cancer.

We all left the office that day with a good attitude.

Then came the PET day.  We were quiet while driving to Madison.  Of course what was on our minds?
What would the scan show?  Was the cancer gone really? Rich felt he should have tons of energy by now.  How come he didn't?

Both of us mentally asked ourselves questions as we drove to the Carbone Cancer Center.
What next?

The Scan went well and then we ate lunch at the UW Hospital cafeteria.  Rich was engaging and we nervously made little jokes about this and that.

We finally headed to the cancer treatment center and the waiting room.  

Fairly quickly a Dr. Morris and a Medical Assistant, both assigned to Dr. Witek came and got us.  They did the normal things blood pressure, questions, complaints and so forth.

Rich's biggest complaint was that he was still not energetic.  Yet he told Dr. Morris how he used to be able to do certain things like push a wheel barrow with a heavy hay bale in it, up a hill.  But now he had to stop and rest half way up.

Dr. Morris blinked and then said, "Man, you are doing far more than so many people that go through this, I would consider that you are out doing the chores as a huge positive."

Of course that fell on deaf ears.  I sometimes wonder if Rich doesn't think that the medical field will magically make him 19 again.  The period of time in which he could work tirelessly.  I don't think he understands that he is a 66 year old man that has health issues on top of cancer treatment recovery.

I agree with Dr. Morris, Rich's recovery compared to many other patients 'in his shoes' was indeed very good. He was doing things, he was eating foods that many patients never eat again.

Dr. Witek came in with the good news.  The PET Scan showed no cancer at all in the throat area, the scan was clean.
I can't tell you how much relief I felt at that moment. Clean?  That nearly felt impossible.

Rich?  He seemed non-pulsed by it in a way.
He complained again about his lack of energy and how things were never going to be normal or better than normal again. He was upset that he would have somewhat of a 'turkey neck' for the rest of his life and that perhaps his salvary glands may never come back to what they once where.

Even Dr. Witek at one point said to Rich, "Dude, you have to understand that you may have to live with these things the rest of your life, isn't that better than the alternative?"

Somehow that did not placate Rich.

But the evil little cells had been killed.  

Of course there is always a chance of the cancer returning in the next two years, and for the next two years we will be subjected to follow ups and more scans.

We went home.  I felt like an elephant had been lifted from my shoulders.

And I found myself going to bed wondering 'what is normal?'
Why complain about being alive?

But then, I am not the patient am I?