Sunday, April 17, 2011

The "Results Show": All Clear!

Well, as the title of this blog post suggests, my scans were ALL CLEAR!  This means there is currently no evidence of cancer in my body - WOOHOO!

This moment has been a long time coming.  It's the first time since my diagnosis 15 months ago that I've been able to say - with documented medical tests to back me up - that there is no active cancer!

And while these results were what we expected and I tried not to worry too much about my test results, it obviously came as a huge relief nevertheless.

The tests themselves went fine on Tuesday - I know the drill by now so it was the same low-carb diet on Monday, then I got to the testing place bright and early at 8:45am on Tuesday morning.  First up was three spine MRIs - thoracic, cervical and lumbar.  They were all separate tests - about 20 minutes each - and luckily they wheeled me out of the machine in between so I could move around a little before going back in.

Then I moved on to the PET/CT scan.  I had dutifully followed my low-carb diet the day before, and as usual they put in an IV first (this had to go in my arm because the contrast is made of glucose so can clog the port), then gave me my oral contrast "milkshake" (I chose vanilla this time), then I sat in a little room for about an hour.  I snapped this pic of the sign on the door:

Inviting, isn't it?

Then I was called in to the scanning room where I was belted on to the table, injected with the CT contrast, and then into the scan machine for about 30 minutes.  I think I dozed off at one point - again!  There's something about that PET/CT machine that makes me sleepy.   I guess I would feel the same about the MRI machine if there wasn't all that loud clanging going on during that test.

I was done around 1:30pm and then had to head over to the hospital to get blood drawn in advance of my radiation planning session on Friday.  A busy day, but it was relatively uneventful and smooth.

On Wednesday, I went to see Dr. Sara for my test results.  He told me they were all clear - there was nothing in the breast, nothing in the liver, nothing in the spine (the two healed spots we already knew about were unchanged).  He said there was really not much to talk about since it was all clear!  My next set of tests will be in about 4 months - in August.

It's important to note that although a clear scan is amazing news, it doesn't necessarily mean that every last cancer cell has been eradicated from my body.  There is no way of knowing that - well, I guess unless the cancer either comes back or it doesn't.  I will always be at risk of a recurrence for the rest of my life and no one will ever be able to tell me that I never have to worry about the cancer coming back, becuase there is always that risk.  But, that is why I will have scans every four months or so at least to start, so that if there ever is evidence of a recurrence it can hopefully be caught early and nipped in the bud.

Here's a picture of Dr. Sara and me right after he told me the good news:

Treatment has not changed - Herceptin every three weeks and of course radiation will be starting soon.  I also saw Dr. Rosenbaum Smith this week for my regular follow-up and everything was AOK there too!  My next breast checkup will be in July.

On Friday I went to my radiation "planning" session.  I have been through this before with my spine radiation so I pretty much knew what to expect.  My friend Kim was able to come with me to this appointment and they even let her come back to the CT room while they got things started, so she served as resident photographer.

Here's a picture of the CT machine:

And here's a pic of my feet on the scanning table.  Aren't my shoes cute?  I try to go to my cancer treatments in style!

First the tech explained what would happen - first they would get me into the right position and make a mold (that blue thing in the first pic is what eventually became the mold) that I would lie in each time to be sure I'm in the same exact position for each session.  I wondered if they could use the mold I had last time but the answer was no - and in fact they use a different kind of mold for the breast radiation than they did for the spine radiation for some reason.

After the mold was made and I was in position, they would do the CT scan, and then they would do some planning and finally I would get my new tattoos and be on my way.

It all went as planned and took a little over an hour all together - not too bad.  I had to lie with my right arm above my head and it started to hurt after awhile.  When I was finally able to move it my arm had totally fallen asleep and I couldn't feel it at all - it kind of flopped off to the side.  Such a weird feeling!  But then it quickly came back to life.

I also saw Dr. Evans who told me again how all my scans were clear and the results were the "best possible outcome".  Even though I already knew the results, I never get tired of hearing them!

They were able to use some of my existing tattoos so I only had to get four new ones, which was nice.  Now I have a total of 11 tiny blue dot tattoos.  Or as I say, they are all of the "world as seen from space" (a reference to an old Friends episode)!

Radiation should start in 1-2 weeks - they will call me when the planning is done and they're ready for me to come in.  I will have to go every day, but it will be a short treatment - just a few minutes hopefully.  I will see Dr. Evans once a week - on Mondays.

I know the radiation drill already because Mom is still going through her radiation treatment, but should finish on Friday!

Now, I have a week "off" from treatment before my next Herceptin on April 27th and as I wait for radiation to start.  I think I'll just revel in my clear scan results until then!


  1. I never get tired of hearing "all clear" too!!!!

  2. I couldn't agree more. I am SO grateful. What a blessed "Easter" we will have!!!! Much love, Aunt Patti