Nothing to see here

Readers following my kidney cancer story may recall from my previous post that my urologist recommended we see an oncologist, Dr Pokharel at St Andrew’s Hospital, when we returned from Europe. Before we left for Europe, I called his office to seek an appointment but the referral had not yet gone through. However, while we were away I had a missed call from Dr Pokharel’s office. Rather than try calling, I emailed a response and an appointment was arranged for Friday, 30 June, a week after our return.

When Majella and I met with Dr Pokharel he noted that the recommended window of 3 or 4 months post-operation for chemotherapy or immunotherapy had passed. We had a brief discussion about the pros and cons of chemotherapy. That would make me sick for periods of time and might have long-lasting effects such as loss of feeling in my fingers. It had to be set against the uncertainties about whether I had any remaining cancer cells to be killed and whether, if there were any, the chemotherapy would kill them. Having heard a similar prognosis from Dr Desai, Majella and I had been thinking that there was little value in chemotherapy unless there was reason to believe there was cancer there.

Dr Pokharel recommended a PET scan with Queensland X-ray at St Andrew’s. He gave me a referral for that and we made an appointment for a followup to see him for the results. From his office we walked to the Queensland X-ray office, presented the referral, and booked me in for a PET scan on the following Tuesday (last week).

A PET scan involves injecting radioactive sugar and looking for tissues that take it up more rapidly than usual because they are cancerous. That requires a very low, essentially zero, sugar diet the night before and fasting for some hours. Grilled steak with mushrooms and asparagus was a fair enough dinner but missing breakfast was less fun.

On Monday afternoon I had a phone call and what had been scheduled as an afternoon scan was moved to the morning which made missing breakfast a little less problematic. I managed to sit or lie around for the necessary couple of hours and the scan went smoothly. Majella collected me from the exit reserved for radioactive patients.

This morning we went back to see Dr Pokharel for the results. There was no sign of cancer in the PET scan. That may not mean there is nothing there but if there is it is too small to show up. Hopefully there is nothing or, if there is, it takes a long time to grow.

Next week I go back to see Dr Desai and I’m already booked in for my next bladder scan early in September.