I went for a PET/CT scan a few days ago to see how my lymphoma was progressing. I’m used to the process now, as it’s the fourth time I’ve had one since my diagnosis in 2014.
After I’d checked in and the formalities were over, I was given an injection of a radiotracer. This contains glucose, and as cancerous cells use sugar more quickly than normal cells the radiotracer concentrates in them, enabling the scanner to detect abnormalities. The scan takes place an hour after the injection and I enjoy saying that being scanned is like being on a slowly moving photocopier.
PET/CT scanners work by detecting the radiotracer at multiple levels (slices) through the body, which are then combined into a false colour 3D image. Affected lymph nodes show up in a lurid green colour. It looks a little bit like the colour of Spiderman’s blood.
Afterwards, you remain slightly radioactive for a few hours. I was glad that I didn’t turn into Spiderman (I hate heights), but I was disappointed that the process didn’t confer me with crime-fighting superpowers.
Today was results day. The scan showed that while the disease has progressed over the last year – more lymph nodes in my neck are abnormal and the ones that were already affected have become larger – everything else is remaining stable enough for me to stay on watch and wait until the New Year at the very least. Which is excellent news.
My consultant tells me that I’m in the bottom 10 percent when it comes to progression speed for MCL.
I’ve spent my whole life trying to be in the top 10 percent of things – and preferably, as Brian Clough once put it, being in the top 1.
But for MCL I’ll happily make an exception. I’ve never been so pleased to be told that I’m in the bottom 10 percent for anything.