Many of you are aware that I had a PET/CT last Friday and I really appreciate all the calls and texts and the lovely flowers I got in the mail — I’m so appreciative of the support that surrounds me, near and far! As many of you totally get, the lead up to scans is just overwhelming. Scanxiety, which I’ve written about before is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced and while my coping mechanisms have gotten better over time, in the week leading up to a scan, I’m not ok in any sense of the word.
The short news is that the PET/CT shows that the metastatic disease in my body is STABLE.
As several people reminded me, I’ve consistently told THEM to celebrate stability and I am rather grudgingly happy about this news. Why grudging? Well, after the radiation, which caused a whole lot of angst and difficulty and appointments, I’d really hoped for No Evidence of Disease (NED) or No Evidence of Active Disease (NEAD), which is what those of us with bone mets can hope for since dead mets and healing bone will still show up on bone scans. In the four (4) years I’ve been dealing with cancer, I’ve never gotten to this status and I’ve really wanted to be there — when I was diagnosed, I had such a high disease load that my bones looked entirely black on the scans and I know I’ve come a long long way since then.
Well, nope, the pesky met is still active, albeit slightly less active, and now pesky met junior has become more active. As to the pesky met, it is likely that it is just too soon to see the full results of radiation, so we’re watching that for now and will continue to watch it. With regard to pesky met jr, it is outside the field of radiation from the pesky met so radiation is theoretically possible, but it’s just now waking up, so also watching that one for now.
The only thing out of left field for this PET/CT is an “opacity” in my upper right lung. It’s small (1.6 x 1.7 cm), smooth, and only has a small uptake. The uptake means that it absorbed the radiation and shows up as “bright” on the PET scan. Different things can absorb the radiation and look bright — cancer, infection, and inflammation — probably other things too, these are just the three most likely. The radiologist went on to use the term “Bibasilar atelectasis,” which is a partial collapse of the lung.
Bottom line, this just means that there’s a part of my lung that can’t fully inflate (i.e., absorb oxygen) because the opacity is blocking that space. I’m not having any symptoms and the radiologist felt that the area is most likely infection or inflammation. After consulting with a variety of doctors, the general consensus is that it’s probably inflammation, likely not related to the Covid Vaccine, likely not pneumonitis, which can be caused by the CDK4/6 inhibitors and we will just rescan in a few months.
Their sanguinity has helped me to breathe a little more easily (pun intended); at the same time, just like scanxiety, the worry that creeps into my daily life is often debilitating and once triggered, never really goes away. I start to imagine symptoms or question if a cough or hitch in my breath is related to the opacity or a lung met or is a harbinger of something horrible to come. We all have those symptoms that scare us in advance — lung and brain mets are my kryptonite right now.
And this is what living with MBC is, the scan, treat, repeat pattern that is my life now. We shall wait for the next scans in May.