I can’t really think of a cute way to start this post so I’ll just get down to business.
MRI OF THE BRAIN W/O & W GAD DIFF PANEL:
No evidence of intracranial metastatic disease. WOOHOO!
PET IMAG SKULL-THIGH SUB TMT:
This one is more complicated and the report was long so I’ll just summarize what the doc told me. As we expected, my left chest area “lit up”. He was more concerned about three little lymph nodes in the mid chest area that also lit up. His concern is that there COULD BE cancer in them now.
Before you freak out – you should know that he prefaced this news with “they could just be lighting up as inflamed from doing their job with healing you from your surgery but…”
Hmmm… He did warn me to expect that they entire area would light up. And it did. The report findings sound scary if you didn’t know I was only 2 weeks out from a surgery where the doctor not only cut away whatever little tissue I had left in the area, but also separated my dermis from the underlying tissue in order to pull my skin together to close the incision. OF COURSE it would light up. Let me explain.
The PET scan relies on the fact that glucose is used as fuel by the healthy tissues in our bodies, and also by cancer cells. The amount of glucose used by each tissue depends on its function.
The tissues in the body which are most metabolically active will take up the most FDG (fludeoxyglucose -the radioactive glucose used) . One organ which uses a lot of glucose is the brain which appears very bright on PET scan. Infections, recent surgical incision sites or broken bones will also be bright on PET scan because these areas are very metabolically active as they heal. (Read more HERE)
So it stands to reason that the lymph nodes in questions, the nodes that are closest to the surgical site, would also light up. Other encouraging news is that the SUV numbers (standardized uptake value -the SUV is just a measure that indicates how bright the tissue is on the scan; that is, how much cellular activity is occurring in that area) for these lymph nodes are fairly low (2.8 -5.1 compared to the big incision areas that were 16.7-24.2).
In the video below, you can see the area light up. You can see the entire 10 inch incision light up as well. Unfortunately, the image does not get any clearer than this.
So what does this mean?
Really, it doesn’t mean that much. I mean it COULD mean really bad things IF the cancer actually has moved into the lymph nodes. That means its considered metastasized. Not good. But I am choosing to believe that my immune system, something I have taken great pains to keep strong, is doing its job and that those poor lymph nodes are simply working hard.
Either way, the next steps remains the same. Radiation. The oncologist will call my radiologist to relay the scan results and make sure that she targets those areas. I was told that was the plan all along anyway. All part of the nuke Larry to Hell plan.
What I DON’T like is that I’ve been upgraded to from stage 1 to stage 3. The sound of that just freaks me out. But I suppose I should have expected that. After all, Larry has come back twice and spawned a son. My TNBC is considered aggressive and invasive now that it has spread to surrounding tissues. Doc Peacock also said “spread to the nodes” which I quickly corrected him on. Still – even without node involvement he still considers it stage 3.
So since nothing has changed as far as I’m concerned, please no calls asking me how I am emotionally. There more people that express concern, the more it freaks me out. Aside from this cold I came down with, I am feeling fine. I am finally healing well from that last surgery. I am glad to see that my immune system is working over time. I read online of others who had a chest cold at the time of their PET scan also have those center lymph nodes lit up. So its all good. The oncologist’s job is to be overly cautious. And mine has a track record of being wrong before.
So THERE! I choose to believe that if Larry is still lurking, he is nothing but tiny cells that are already being beaten down by my incredible immune system and will be completely burned out when the radiation starts. I’m not happy about my poor lymph nodes also being blasted but they will regenerate and come back strong as ever.
May it be so. Amen!