Monday, October 4, 2010

4th - Intro. to Nuclear Medicine

Today was my introduction to the wonderful world of nuclear medicine.  From what I understand, I will become more than familiar with the science, as these scans are repeated throughout chemotherapy.  As I mentioned, Dr. Hellner ordered a PET scan to be completed, essentially to see how far the cancer had spread and to what regions.  The results of the scan help in determining the stage of the disease (I-IV).

According to Harvard Medical School, PET stands for positron emission tomography, which is an imaging technique that uses positively charged particles (radioactive positrons) to detect subtle changes in the body's metabolism and chemical activities. A PET scan provides a color-coded image of the body's function, which when combined with a CT scan can show detail on where cancer is active.  For the PET scan to be effective a substance called a tracer that produces radioactive positrons either is injected into a vein or inhaled as a gas.

In my case a nice gentleman named Bill, from Chicago he told me, injected me with radioactive material from a syringe sheathed by Tungsten.  Bill was a giant man and one of my favorites in this journey so far.  In addition to the radioactive material injected, you must drink two 16-ounce servings of a high-sugar solution.  Back in the day, this had to be some type of flavored Barium.  Bill is a magician and offered me a high-octane version of Dr. Pepper, which many of you know I love, although not as much as red wine.  Stuart was asked to leave to the waiting room as soon as I was injected as "I was radiating pretty good" and not safe to be near.

After two hours of allowing my body to absorb these materials, I was ready for the PET/CT combination scan.  It took 20 minutes and I was out of there with Stuart, who was nice enough to wait for me all day.  Results tomorrow...

Oh, I should mention that Bill told me to stay away from my children until the next day, as I was "no-joke radioactive."  Apparently he wasn't worried about my wife or mother-in-law (who did have me ask Bill if it was okay for "old people" to be near me).