My oncologist gave me a Breast Cancer Gene Test (BRCA). It was a simple blood test, but due to the complexity, it takes about 2 weeks to get the results. So we go ahead and scheduled my follow up for March 7th to get the results. He also ordered a PET scan, chest MRI, chest X-Ray and bone scan. Then, he advised me to go back and see the breast surgeon and discuss surgical options with her. I was able to get into the breast surgeon the following week and in the mean time I got all my tests scheduled.
Over the next two weeks, I had my tests. Here’s my point of view:
Chest X-Ray: Easy, non-invasive and quick, maybe 10 minutes at most.
PET Scan: You have to drink barium, I opted for the coffee flavor — YUCK! I was sick as a dog for the remainder of the day and the next day. I had the worst stomach cramps and diarrhea, not to mention the taste was horrible. Not everyone will have this side effect, but I did and was miserable, it almost felt like a mild case of food poisoning, minus the vomiting. But the test itself was pretty easy. You have to begin drinking the barium 2 hours before your scan, but the scan itself took maybe 30 minutes, and that included hooking up the IV (and my veins usually are uncooperative; this time was no exception).
Bone Scan: This was a simple, but long test, about 45 – 60 minutes. You have to lay completely still on this table while the machine slowly scans your full boy. It wasn’t invasive or loud, so you could take a nap during it. I wasn’t tired so I stared at the ceiling, thinking about everything the entire time.
Chest MRI: This was literally torture to me. I had never had an MRI before. I’ve seen them on TV, Gray’s Anatomy, anyone? They did ask if I was claustrophobic, which I said, “no, not really.” In my head, I thought I’d be laying on my back, head sticking out of the machine and they’d just be imaging my chest. That is not the case.
Here’s where my own torture began. First I had to lay on my stomach and put my breasts in these cup things that are under the mat, sort of like cup holders for your boobs. It was uncomfortable, but not painful. The technician puts my IV in and lets me know I can’t move and that it will be loud. He had me put my hands above my head and then pushes me inside. I’m not a small woman so my back touches the top of the MRI machine and he stops pushing me in – and my head is still inside! I start screaming to “GET ME OUT!” and then I push myself back, IV almost ripping out of my hand. I was crying and hyperventilating. I was so scared. I should have asked more questions or did a little homework prior to going in for the MRI, I’d have at least been mentally prepared. The technician was super friendly and calmed me down and after about 5 minutes he talked me into going back in that contraption.
It was Hell. I am face down in this big, extremely loud machine, I cannot move, but I can look in front of me and see a window … that I cannot get to because I am inside of this big, loud machine. I watch a lot of Criminal Minds and I really wanted Agent Morgan to bust through those doors and save me! It was torture. So for 45 minutes, I was thinking about all the torture methods that were worse than what I was experiencing … that killed the time, and finally, it was over.