Sooo! Again! I experienced Freckles that glow in the dark!
This time I took my camera along so you can see how I get my glowing freckles. (To read my previous post on this topic, go here.)
Periodically, every six months or so, I get a combined PET/CT scan to determine what my pesky ovarian cancer cells are doing. Last November the scan showed no activity whatsoever. That was good news, indeed! But for most of us, ovarian cancer is a chronic disease...it hangs in there, even when knocked down by chemo, waiting for a time when the cells will again begin growing. Some women attain remission for long periods of time. Most of us, however, will have short remissions followed by chemo and, hopefully, followed by another period of remission. Each individual is different, but one thing is certain...ovarian cancer is a nasty, deadly disease.
The PET/CT enables the oncologist to get a fairly decent assessment of progression (or lack thereof) of the disease.
So I presented myself to the clinic. No prep needed other than abstaining from food and liquids the prior evening and avoiding red meats and some other foods the prior 24 or 48 hours.
The procedure is simple. The nurse injects a small amount (doesn't look that small in the photo!) of radioactive material (tracer). As you can see the cartridge is rather large and I'm assuming the metal prevents radiation from emitting out the sides...but perhaps I'm wrong about that...after all, it still must surely radiate through the window of the cartridge.
Note the metal box at my elbow which is used to transport and store the cartridge. I can tell by how the nurse handles it that this is a heavy box...most likely, it is lined with lead which protects from radiation...I think.
The tracer travels through your blood and collects in organs and tissues, and particularly collects in actively growing cancer cells. Once you have received the injection, one must wait for about an hour for the tracer to travel throughout the body. A small waiting room is dedicated to this hour...they want you to be resting AND they don't want your radioactive body wandering around bothering other people with its radioactivity. Or at least that's my assumption. (The radioactivity dissipates in about 6 hours.)
After the hour, comes the test itself. Some people are intensely claustrophic while in this chamber but I find it to be quite relaxing, really, and usually catch a short catnap while undergoing the test. No Problemo!
When finished, I go home, turn out the lights and look in the mirror! Yep! Glowing freckles! Really! Truly! (I posted a photo later...here)
At the end of the day, the radiation is gone, and I am again a normal human being. One without glowing freckles. But still, one with cancer. This time two small lymph nodes that have previously glowed in the dark are found to be glowing again. Pesky things.
By the way, the nurse/technician who injects the tracer wears a badge that monitors and measures her exposure to radioactivity. I'm not certain I would like to have her job. Sure, I get radiated every time I do one of these tests, but if I were younger and thought I still had long life ahead of me, I'm not sure I'd be so care-free about receiving the radiation.
(My current chemo schedule is pretty easy....carbo/gemzar every other week. Pretty benign side-effects so far, for which I am grateful.)