Living in a small town, population 2700, has its limitations. But in our small town the available health care is not one of those limitations.
Our small town hospital has working arrangements with Big Hospitals in the City north of us and the Bigger City south of us. That means they are able to provide clinics/treatments/specialists that are otherwise available only in the City and the Bigger City. As a result our small town hospital provides excellent service to a large rural area. And since we sit close to the state border, it serves patients in two states.
To provide indepth PET, CT and MRI scans the hospital works with two mobile units that come to town every other week. One of those big trucks has the letters "MRI" marked on its side and it sits beside the hospital every other Friday. Every other Saturday the PET/CT truck will be sitting there.
The local radiologist reads those scans and can have his written report ready sometimes within the hour. And certainly within 24-48 hours, depending on whether this is a weekend and if it is or isn't an emergency. That may not be too amazing to you but it is to me. I belong to an online ovarian cancer forum and some of the ladies,who get their cancer treatment at very large hospitals in very large cities, complain about waiting 2 or 3 weeks for the results of their scans. Perhaps they do not know that they have the right to copies of those reports themselves. Perhaps they do not ask, as I do, "May I have a copy of the written report as soon as it is completed?" The doctors/nurses/technicians are always happy to comply with my request and I have never seen any reluctance on their part to provide those results.
My early scans in 2009 were CTs. In January 2010 the oncologist ordered a combination PET/CT. That same week we watched the movie Avatar in 3-D! Since prep for the PET/CT included injection of a radioactive substance I figured I had glow-in-the-dark freckles just like the Na'vi people in the movie. At least for a few hours...the stuff dissipates within 6 hours, during which time they advise you to stay away from babies and pregnant ladies and don't go around hugging people. (Moral...don't hug anyone with glowing freckles!)
You may be asking, "What's the difference between a CT and a PET? And why combine the two?"
Basically, it is this...."In one continuous full-body scan (usually about 30 minutes), PET captures images of miniscule changes in the body's metabolism caused by the growth of abnormal cells, while CT images simultaneously allow physicians to pinpoint the exact location, size and shape of the diseased tissue or tumor.Essentially, small lesions or tumors are detected with PET and then precisely located with CT.." You can read more here.
Last Saturday I had another PET/CT. Monday I was soooo apprehensive, worrying about negative results, that I just couldn't make myself travel the two blocks to the hospital to pick up the report. Instead I waited until this morning to go to the front desk and ask for the report. The lady there handed me a sealed envelope and even as I held it in my hand my mind sputtered with "what if".
But I opened the envelope and began reading, slowly and carefully. Medical reports are written in medicalese but since I had read previous reports (and googled key words) I knew what to look for. I knew which words might be "good" or "bad". I read it carefully once. Then I read it carefully a second time. And even though I have not yet reviewed this with my oncologist, I know he will be very happy with it. And with his choice of chemo.
My Onc Rocks!
Those few exclamatory words do not negate my recognition that God is in all of this...that He has chosen this path for me to walk...that He is working in my life every step of the way, using this to test and refine me and cause me to trust Him more deeply every step of the way. This earthly life is temporary and we must not put all our hope in this life only. We must remember that. And in our hopes for good health, we must not lose sight of the eternal hope we have in Christ Jesus. When all is said and done, our only comfort, our bottomline comfort, must be that we are not our own...that if we belong to Christ we belong to him body and soul, in life and in death. That is where our true comfort lies. We are safe in His hands in life. And we are safe in His hands in death.
For you see...while the scan results today were good...there will come a day when they are no longer good...or I will succumb to some other disease of old age. I'm in my 60s. That means in a few short years (or at the most, decades) my life will be over. That is the way of this world and of this life. That's where we end up. But as Christians we are comforted by the words of Scripture...the promises that Christ has died our death and now gives us His life...that He will not lose one of those that are His. (John 6:39)
So in regards to "aging" and moving towards physical death, I think of these verses: 2 Cor. 4:16-18 "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.