From the monthly archives:

July 2010


My cell phone rings at 7.42 AM. I am already at work.

“Just left you a message at home,” my internist says. “Ignore that one. Just want to tell you the CAT scan was inconclusive. It is nothing to worry about,” he said.” But one should also not ignore it. You understand what I mean? The radiologist being hyper careful and all.”

My internist is setting up a PET scan. He had talked to my oncologist, Dr. Weary “who is on board.”

As soon as I get off the phone with my internist, his  office calls. They need my new insurance information, the PET scan has to be approved before my appointment on Tuesday at 1 PM. “Eat nothing for four hours prior!” I am told.

At home, I go straight to the phone to listen to the message Dr. R. left before he called my cell, the message he told me to ignore and erase.  Like I could.

“R. here. “ (How much training did he have to be able to deliver bad news in a non-threatening, authoritative fashion?) “Looking at the report of the CAT scan, talked to your oncologist and he is on board with what we’re doing.  My radiologist, being super hyper vigilant and obsessive wants us to follow up with a PET scan, don’t know if you ever had one. He spelled it out in a loud, firm voice: P-E-T scan, we want to make sure there is no metabolic activity. (Nicely put, Dr. R., much better than to say we’re checking to see if you have cancer cells that are growing out of control.) “I talked to Weary,” he continued, ” and we really think the little changes in your lung could be the result of radiation.”

Interesting. The “area of concern” is in my lower left lung. I had radiation in my right breast. Besides, aren’t the lungs in your back?

“Dr. Weary has looked at this and is not highly worried,” R. continued, “but agrees that if the radiologist wants this done then we should go ahead and do it. So we will follow up with a PET scan, P-E-T, very similar to the CAT scan but measures metabolic activity, don’t think you have had a PET scan before. It will show if there is any activity in the scarring area which would make it more likely to be a tumor. I hate to leave a voice mail, but I wanted to follow up since the CAT scan was done a few days ago. Jonathan will call and set a time.”

A PET Scan stands for Positron Emission Tomography and it is pretty much only used to check for “abnormal cell activity.” The reason they said that my CAT scan was “inconclusive” must have meant that by just looking they could not tell if my granuloma was benign or malignant.  They had checked the size: small is good but not absolute proof. They had looked at the edges and obviously could not tell for sure if they were smooth or spiculated (smooth is better.) They checked the density: calcified or not?(calcified is better.) They were clueless.  I still needed a PET scan.

I felt like throwing up as I listened to his message over and over again.