Scans, Kids Cancer and Stress


*** Update:

We are now 6 months past this blog post and that means it is time for another set of scans. This time around I am driving down and taking my daughter. So thats a 5-6 hour drive depending on stops and traffic. I also now have a smart phone so I will be able to tweet. No Audiology appt this time. On the way back up I drop the kids off at Camp Goodtimes, a wonderful camp put on by the Canadian Cancer Society.

*** Original Post:

This week will find me and Philip in Vancouver getting his six months scans. Every six months we go down and he gets an injection of a radiopharmaceutical called mibg. This stuff attaches to Neuroblastoma cancer cells and has a radioactive tag on it that allows imagining. It will tell us very quickly if the cancer has come back. Needless to say this raises the stress level in the house.

Right now everyone is on edge and much closer to snapping at others than we usually are. Given that we have been doing this for just over 5 years now we have come to recognize the symptoms of that stress and try to deal with them in a healthier manner. Saturday found my wife and I arguing over nothing, my daughter whining and Philip quicker to anger with his siblings.

So how are we dealing with it? First is we acknowledge the source of the stress and everyone takes a step back to sort of realize that we need to be more in control of our feelings and actions. We pray a lot about this to guide our action. Our morning prayer from my last post take on more meaning. Second is we recognize that we are all going through the same stress and we may need to help each other. Third we try to do fun distracting things during this time.

We also only have Philip and one parent go down. Five personalities in one room with a pair of twin beds and that much stress is not a pretty sight. By Wednesday we will have a pretty good idea what the result are and the stress will ease off.

We’ve had 20+ of these scans so I have a good idea what to look for. First I can look over the shoulders of the techs and see what is going on and I have better that a layman’s idea of what to look for. Second I know if they add any scans that there is cause for concern.

How it works. We fly down Tuesday morning, in the afternoon he gets his injection and is mildly radioactive for the next several days. Wednesday we get the first scan while there is still a lot of the tag in his system. Next he gets a nasty pill that is guaranteed to clean out everything… Hmmm what is the best way to put this… in the #2 exit. On Thursday he gets a second scan that gives them better resolution with less of the tag in his system. On Friday we get the official results and a review/checkup with our oncologist. This time we also have an audiology appointment to check his hearing. He has some hearing loss but that is another post.

ScannerThe pictures are of the machine that does the scanning. The bed he is strapped to moves in and out and the round bit rotates around him. There are two sensor that pick up the radiation from the tag and map exactly where it is coming from. They can make a 3d map of him from head to toe. He is in the machine for about 1.5 hours. Once his head is out he can watch a movie on the screen above him as long as it doesn’t cause him to move. Last time he picked Jumanji and we had to turn it off because he was laughing to much. We watched it that evening.

I appreciate any prayers for my family particularly for clean scans and less stress. Thank you. I will have limited internet access so I can not guarantee any tweets or responses until Saturday.

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