Blog February 23, 2016
Position Emission Tomography
The hospital corridors and Nuclear Medicine signs seemed no more familiar this week than last time. This time, however, the tastefully decorated waiting room seemed less surreal. I was less taken aback by the posh, overly comfortable La-Z-boy recliners and brightly upholstered pillows. Just over two months ago, when I underwent my first PET scan, I shed my first real tears about my cancer. I was uncomfortable at how nice this waiting room was. The nurse attendant was so nice, so friendly. He brought me a heated flannel blanket. The dazzling array of magazines were all up to date. They were nice, not picked over, no old copies of Westword. Last December, I was unable to take refuge in all this overt hospitaIity because I felt frozen with fear.
They know I am sick. They feel sorry for me. I had wished this place was more ordinary.
A more resilient me arrived for my current Pet scan appointment. I was surprised to note that I did not feel intense anticipation about the results of this test, even though I now knew so much more about the test. A PET, or position emission tomography scan, examines chemical activity in the body. Radioactive sugar is injected into the veins, and organs and tissues absorb this tracer. Cancer cells show up as bright spots, due to their accelerated metabolic rates.
This is tremendously scary stuff, but I know that letting my mind think about what might be is unhelpful. I will know the results soon enough. Ruminating in anticipation robs me of living fully in the present moment. I am not unafraid. Getting the diagnosis of cancer is likely the most frightening thing that ever happened to me. I recently read a quote by Elton John, who is currently on tour. He said, “If you don’t have any fear anymore, then you have to give up.” I am not fearless, I am just learning to have less fear.