Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008 -- CAT scan and RFA appointment

Hiya Bloggy,

Well, it is late (2am) and I'm torn between being tired and insomnia. I have lots of information twirling around in my brain and it's going to take me awhile to absorb it and put it all on it's appropriate shelf.

I went to Royal Columbian Hospital today for a CAT scan and then a consultation appt. with Dr. Brad Halkier, interventional radiologist. It was a long day in that they could not find a vein, which they needed to set up an IV because Dr. Halkier wanted a CAT scan without contrasting dye and then one with contrasting dye. They put the dye in via an IV. Wouldn't you know that today my veins were not cooperating.

So, I had to go to be put on a stretcher and have both arms wrapped in hot towels and covered in heated blankets.. for almost an hour! Even with all of that, the IV nurse FINALLY found a small vein... and my right arm is going to be pretty black and blue in the next couple of days.

But, we got the two Scans done, and then it was off to get dressed then meet with Dr. Halkier for the consult appt. My friend, Nancie, came with me to the appt.

Well, this is a good news/bad news session, I think. This is where my head is just spinning around with the information. Dr. Halkier said that many, many people are referred to him to see about having the RFA procedure done on nodules/tumours that have been found in their lungs... but he has to turn away 50% of them. The reason being, he will only do the procedure if there's a possibility of a cure or prolonging a good quality of life that the patient currently has.

He then explained that when colon cancer has spread, this means that there are cancer cells in the body that have either settled and are now growing or are still looking for a place to settle... and there is no way of knowing how many of these cells are around. But the fact that nodules are popping up in the lungs, then there have been SOME cells that have taken root, with potentially many more to pop up. If there are multiple nodules showing up on a CAT scan, then surgery or even RFA are not necessarily in the best interests of anyone, because more nodules will pop up and there is always some risk of surgery or RFA. He says there are at least 7 nodules in my scan, that he can see.

So, I thought he was taking me through all of this to explain why he was going to turn me down for the procedure, the fact I have more than one or two nodules, puts me in the 50% bracket that he is going to turn me down.

But he didn't. He said that he would be willing to do RFA on the two larger ones (19mm and 7mm)... or for my American friends reading this blog entry (approx. 3/4" and 1/4")... but the others are too small to even be trying to find with the probe. Soooo, this is the good news... we are going to get rid of the two!

Now, the next hurdle will actually be at the time of the procedure. As most of you know, I am a full-figured gal. Now, that is not a problem with the equipment, as far as the CAT scan machine goes (I've had many CAT scans!)... but now to do the procedure, he will be inserting the probe and I have to be able to be put through the machine with this probe and his hand, able to get between me and the machine... so there has to be enough room for this to happen. We won't know until the actual day since he won't know how to best do this... from the back, the front or the side. He is going to do the largest one first and if that goes well, and I'm feeling fine, then he will try and do the second one at the same session.

If you are interested, click here to go to the Society Of Interventional Radiology Website (which Dr. Halkier is a member of) and scroll down to Thermal Ablation.

So, the next step is for his office to schedule me an appt. to have the procedure done, as well, I will need to go ahead of time for a pre-admission appt. with the hospital. He figures that I'll probably be scheduled for the procedure after Christmas, in early January, unless an opening comes up before Christmas.

In the meantime, I will be having an appt. with Sharlene, my oncologist, in the next week or two.

The one thing I just can't get my head around is this whole Stage IV and "incurable" and "procedure for better quality of life" terminology. As far as I'm concerned, I am fighting tooth and nail and am going to be around for many years to come... so when I hear a doctor talking in terms like I might not be eligible for a procedure.. that's when I have my moments.

But, I just need to absorb the information, categorize it, and then onwards we go!

Ok... it is now 2:30am, so I am heading to bed. But I did want to put these thoughts and today in writing so I don't have to send the same info over and over again in email, or talk it over and over on the phone. I can just send folk here :)




Bonnie said...

I think this is FABULOUS news!!!! I know it's scary, having them keep telling you it's stage IV, it's progressing, yada yada yada - but that is their job, to prepare you for the worst. That doesn't mean they expect it to happen, and if they knew you - they'd know it isn't gonna happen! You are one amazing woman, you do have a big fight on your hands but I know you are up for it. Go Cheryl!!!!

Bannod said...

Yeah, I'm not going for that "incurable" and "better quality of life" BS either. You'll show 'em!

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, I feel deep in my heart, this doctor would NOT bother doing the surgery if he didn't think there was still hope. Keep fighting!!

Hugs, Maryann

Kathy said...


Doctors don't like failing. If he thought it wouldn't work, he wouldn't try. This will work and you will come out of it! I know it's tough, but keep hanging in there! Bri and Ed send their best to you, too!