Dr. Curti smiled as he entered, reached for our three hands in turn, and said, “Good news: no change, nothing new, nothing growing, no new energy uptake. From a medical perspective you get an A+. There are no action items based on your scan.”
“Now then, How are you feeling?”
I paused a moment trying to savor this unexpected news. I struggled this summer with chest pains and fatigue as we worked on preparing our Hollywood house for sale. The house sold in late August and I failed to bounce back in September. Consequently, I suspected cancer progression or some other health concern — maybe pneumonia.
I asked, “Would a PET scan identify pneumonia if it were present?”
“There was no indication on your scan that you have pneumonia. What gives you that idea?”
We discussed signs and symptoms, whereupon Dr. Curti suggested a reaction to the dust, pollen, and organisms encountered in summer home renovation probably has caused “reactive airways” similar to a mild asthma. He also placed my experience of fatigue in an appropriate context, reminding me that fatigue associated with active advanced cancer is far more severe and unrelenting than my strong desires for a nap in the afternoon and early bedtime in the evening.
Attributing causes to signs and symptoms is difficult for the cancer patient, because so many of them could be caused by active cancer. While I try to think positive thoughts and remind myself that it’s unlikely cancer is recurring, that is hardly a substitute for an objective PET Scan and testimony of an experienced oncologist. Once again, I am grateful for the skills Dr. Curti brings to the challenge of living with cancer.