Jun 13 2015

The good news is: there’s no bad news.


Everything’s fine.  Let’s say that up front.

Short version with spoilers: I had a test, it spooked me, but I was fine in the end.  Hooray, happy ending!


Two weeks ago, at my 3-month follow-up visit with my oncologist, my blood work showed an unusually high level of calcium, which is one of those things that can be a big warning sign.   When she got the results, my doc called to tell me that she wanted to get a bone scan, “to see if anything’s happening in your bones that would cause them to push out calcium.”  (Unsaid: like, you know, bone cancer.)

With cancer, there’s always the possibility of it returning, and breast cancer in particular has a number of favorite places to come back, one of which is your bones.

Now, sometimes my emotional reactions seem to work on a sort of tape-delay.  So, I was all: Sure, bone scan, I’ve had one of those before.  Piece of cake.

For this type of scan, they inject you with a radioactive tracer, then send you away for a couple of hours while the stuff permeates into your bones.   Then you come back, and lie down in what looks like an x-ray or MRI scanner except: No x-rays needed!  No radiation shot at you at all!

Because — yep –  you’re sending out your very own rays, and all they have to do is catch ’em to create an image of yer very bones.   Fun science fact!  But deeply tedious, as the scan is slow, slow, slow.  And it’s not like you can read a book while you’re lying there.  Fortunately, I’m good at entertaining myself with no external input whatsoever.

When it was over, as I was leaving the scanning room, my own bones were up on the monitor.    I peered at them with open curiosity.  “Pretty cool,”  I said to the tech.

“Sure is,” she said.  Making no attempt to, say, hide them from me lest I see some shocking image – -which I took as a good sign.  I went whistling on my way, back to the day job.

And at some point that afternoon, the tape-delay caught up, and I started thinking:  So… High calcium, bone scan done RIGHT AWAY no delay, do the math…

And my doc is very good about getting back to me about test results, so when I didn’t hear by the next day I started  working through all the possibilities.

I eventually called my doc’s office on Thursday, and they were quite surprised that a follow-up had not already been scheduled, and could I come in the very next day?  Which of course did nothing to reassure me.

But when Sabine and I  finally saw my oncologist (I asked Sabine to come with me just in case…), the news was good!  My bones were fine!  My doc just wanted to take some more blood for another test, to see if  the calcium was still high, and see if there were any endocrine-system reasons behind it.

I was sort of giddy with relief, and then went home and slept for pretty much  the rest of the day (so did Sabine, but she works nights)…

Well.  Imaginary re-visit to Cancer Treatment Carnival all done.  Scary clowns can go home.

Made me think, though.

It’s when I don’t know stuff, that I get scared.  When you know stuff, you deal with the stuff.

Also reminded me that I am SO LUCKY to have my sister.  She’s the best, ever.