As I would understand better later, my oncologist is very cautious. She wants all.the.things to have follow-up with various specialists. I was told to seek out a urologist to address the small stone that was noted on the pathology report. "Already have one," I said.
Over the spring and summer of 2012 two kidney stones--one on each side--had to come out. What's more, they were too big to blast out via shock waves in a water bath. They had to be removed surgically, through my back. This medical development was the first time I had seen a doctor for anything more serious than the flu in my entire adult life, barring pregnancy. (Which totally doesn't count.)
Someday maybe I'll share the whole story, but one thing is relevant to the cancer journey. During the course of treatment for kidney stones, I was taken for a CT scan one late night in the E.R. This was the first one I'd ever had. My right lung was partially collapsed (thus the reason for the E.R. trip) and those scans showed two tiny spots--one on each lung. They weren't noted on the report, but fifteen months and a cancer diagnosis later, that scan took on new significance. It would be a useful tool for comparison. It would be a reason to hope.
I saw the urologist the following week at my oncologist's urging. He told me how sorry he was that I was now dealing with cancer. He said that he went back to check every test he'd ever ordered on me, and nothing hinted at a growing tumor at that time.
He told me about the new stone in my left kidney. Considering I was facing the start of chemotherapy in mere days, I was less than keen to hear his plans for its removal.
"Have you got any good news for me, Doc?"
"Well...your right kidney looks great!" he granted.
"I'll take it!" I spouted. Some good news after all. He then told me that the stone could be dealt with later--after chemo was over. All the post-surgery bladder tests had shown expected results, and so I was free to go.
The very next day, I was scheduled for both a PET scan and surgery to place a medi-port. Part of the blast-o-gram:
Sent: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:18 PM
Subject: Tues. Night
Tomorrow, bright and early, I will have a PET scan w/contrast. Surgery for the port placement, which was originally scheduled for Thurs., is now also planned for tomorrow. There were a lot of phone calls yesterday from numerous people with questions and issues swirling around these two procedures and how to combine them on one day, but I'm happy to report that those kinks were worked out. Everyone is working hard to make sure the start of chemo doesn't get delayed.
Thank you for your prayers. They are being heard!
We are so, so grateful for ALL the ways you're supporting us.
Tomorrow morning I'll be RADIOACTIVE for something like 6 hours.
PET scans show structure somewhat less precisely than CT scans, but more importantly, they show metabolic activity. Areas of tumor growth tend to "glow" on a PET scan, and so we hoped and prayed that the next day's scan would be peacefully dark.