Follow-up PET scan news

It is Thursday, July 9th. Please accept my apologies for the long delay in updating this blog.

After a three-month healing period following my radiation and chemo treatments, I went back to Georgetown University Hospital yesterday for a follow-up PET (positron emission tomography) scan. This scan was exactly the same as the scan I had had on February 9th, at the beginning of this whole ordeal. PET technology allows the radiologist to see everything inside my body in slices 1mm thick, in my case starting halfway down my scull and running all the way down to my hips. Metabolically active areas in the body (including the brain, the heart and, yes, cancer cells) absorb a glucose-based radioactive solution administered intravenously one hour before the scan, and the radiologist can then see the active areas as fluorescent colored blobs.

I spoke with Dr. Davidson (my lead doctor) this afternoon, and he shared with me the radiologist’s findings: the primary tumor at the base of my tongue appears to be fully inactive (i.e. the tissue in that region is healthy and normal), and the secondary tumor on the left side of my neck continues to show some cancer-related activity, albeit greatly diminished activity from what the radiologist saw there following the initial PET scan in February. This was good news, and essentially what we had been hoping for. For some weeks, I have had surgery scheduled to remove the secondary tumor on my neck, as the treatment protocol calls for removal of lymph nodes and other non-essential tissue to eliminate the possibility that even one cancer cell remains. So I will go under the knife on Monday, but the procedure will be relatively straight-forward as Dr. Davidson will not need to do anything at the site of the primary tumor in my throat.

The last three months have been great. My physical and mental health recovered to 100% within a month of the end of treatments, and my sense of taste has returned almost completely (I’m at about 90% now). I’m back to swimming my normal distance (50 lengths) 2-4 times per week and my tempo has recovered. I’ve gone on a handful of bike rides, and even went out for a run recently. After school let out, the kids and I traveled to California for 12 days, and had a great time together. We did a couple of nice hikes in Yosemite National Park, did a horse trail ride in Sequoia, saw La Jolla, Venice Beach, San Luis Obispo, Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Santa Cruz, and of course beautiful San Francisco. Plenty to celebrate!

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6 Responses to Follow-up PET scan news

  1. Kim Fitzpatrick says:

    So happy to hear the good news!! So happy that it worked!! Glad the surgery will be over soon and you sound like you are doing great!

  2. Mike says:

    May the 4 winds blow you safely home my friend!

  3. Vicki says:

    So glad to hear your good news.

  4. Jan Ellison says:

    So glad to hear you’ve come out of this well. I hope the surgery goes well Monday. So glad you’re back to feeling good, and that the treatment was so successful.

  5. connie swymeler says:

    Great news. I’ll be praying for you Monday. You have a great spirit of adventure. Keep it up. Love you Aunt Connie

  6. John C says:

    Great to hear, Sean! Keep at it.