It’s been a traumatic couple of weeks to say the least and today was bizarrely amazing.
I had a call first thing this morning to say that my consultant needs to see me this afternoon to discuss my PET and MRI scan results (which took place last Tuesday and Thursday respectively). So, filled with dread, I went back to Watford General, accompanied by my wife. In we went once more to a room with a consultant, a Macmillan cancer nurse and a staff nurse. Expecting more bad news we were dumbstruck when my consultant opened with an apology and went on to explain that my PET and MRI scans had come back completely clear and that they could only conclude that there had been a highly unusual error on my CT scan.
To help us understand the situation, we gathered around a computer screen and my consultant showed me and my wife the images from the CT scan with a clear dark patch on my liver, apparently measuring “a few centimetres”. A team had looked at this scan and all concluded that, considering my bowel cancer, it was most likely to be a secondary tumour. Apparently the contrast dye that is injected into the body during a CT scan is processed differently by healthy and cancerous cells, leading to tumours showing as darker patches.
Then we were shown the images from the PET scan (similar to a CT scan, but this scan used a radioactive glucose tracer that was injected into my body – apparently cancerous cells take up glucose more quickly than healthy cells and this faster activity shows up brightly on the scan). There was no sign of a tumour on the liver, or anywhere else in my body.
We weren’t shown the MRI images of my liver (apparently they’re much more complicated to interpret), but two hospital teams had looked at them and concluded that they were clear too.
So… now I feel a bit embarrassed because I realise this all sounds so unbelievable. I’m struggling to come to terms with it myself after two weeks of trying to come to terms with Stage IV cancer.
I’m told that this sort of ‘mistake’ is extremely rare, but can happen when the timing of the dye being injected is misaligned with the timing of the CT images being taken. The other explanation is that it is a miracle.
I’ve asked for copies of the images, so that I can post them on here.
Thank you all so much for the messages and prayers – every one has meant loads to me and I will reply to those I haven’t replied to already! Thank you thank you.
Next steps are another precautionary CT scan in three months (oh joy). But, before that I have a polyposis check with an endoscopy (camera to check my stomach and duodenum – the bit between the stomach and small intestine) and another colonoscopy (first post-operation camera check of my rectum). That’s in a couple of weeks.
Shortly before my CT scan in August my six-year-old daughter said to me “Dad, do you know what CT stands for?” I gave her the ‘Computed Tomography’ answer and she said “No, it’s Celebration Time!” A few weeks later I had to tell her that it wasn’t great news and it broke me when she said with sadness “I guess it’s not celebration time then”. So, today I picked the kids up from school on a lovely sunny autumn afternoon and we had a nice paddle down the Grand Union. Then I was able to tell my daughter that she was right all along – it is celebration time! Here we are (photo courtesy of my trusty support crew – aka my wife!):