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  • Writer's pictureZoe

Zoe's Story: Scanning for Cancer (Week 2)

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

I welcomed week two thinking I will get all the answers I want. Man was I wrong. Who knew cancer was so complicated? One answer or test leads to another series of questions. The week does result in some good and some bad news.

My doctor Ronald requested a Bilateral Breast MRI, with and without contrast. Just before 7:00 pm the night prior to my Breast MRI, Diagnostics Center of America (DCA) West Boca called me to cancel, stating my insurance company had not approved my MRI. I called Kenia at my doctor’s office and she told me "leave it with me to handle." I knew a breast MRI tells a lot; I really wanted this procedure and they made it happen. They got DCA to discount the procedure down to $600 and I arrived at DCA, as planned, for my procedure.

Check in happened online and the text message process was much the same as DCA Delray. When I arrived, I changed into a gown, sat in a little room, and a technologist arrived to insert the intravenous catheter (IV) into the back of my right hand. The MRI machine is huge and the bed (a hard, clinical plank) has two perfect holes in it. You are supposed to lie face down with your breasts in the holes, and I laughed quietly under my breath that I am fast losing my dignity!

Your arms go superman-style above your head. I did not feel much like a super-woman, and the claustrophobia started to kick-in, ever so slightly. The technologist put earphones on my ears and relaxing music began to play. It certainly helped me to relax.

The plank moved through the large magnet, into the tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, the technologist connected the IV into the line in the back of my hand, so at they can inject the contrast (gadolinium). This contrast helps them to see any abnormalities more clearly.

Before beginning the procedure, she checked the line with saline, to make sure I felt no pain. Then she left the room and off we went! The music was drowned out by a sound resembling a jack hammer I closed my eyes and tried to stay as calm as I could for the 20 minutes it took. Towards the end of the procedure, my body felt oddly cold, from the injected contrast.

After the process was complete, I left the center and returned to work for my last appointment of the day. I arrived home just after 5:00 pm and Ronald’s office called to schedule a tele-appointment with me for 6:00 pm (after his last patient). I knew nothing good comes of a late call from a doctor and I certainly felt an elevated level of anxiety waiting for him to arrive.

The news was not good. The MRI had identified three significant masses and cortical thickening of my lymph nodes. Ronald discussed the results with me and asked me what pain I was experiencing. Apart from my breast pain, my lower back and hips were usually painful.

He said he was scheduling a chest, abdomen and pelvis CT and needed me to go to my OBGYN for an annual and had referred me to a well known doctor Dr. Eli Avisar from the University of Miami Health System. Ronald reassured me his team was the best and Kenia would personally handle all the appointment scheduling. The reminded me to stay calm and relax, as much as I could.

Kenia sent a script to DCA Boynton Beach and scheduled my Chest, Abdomen and Pelvis CT scan, with and without contrast (CT scan uses X-Rays to create detailed pictures of the organs, bones, and tissue). Yet again, the insurance company was moving slower than my medical team, and my amazing boss told me go get whatever I needed; he would personally handle the out of pocket!

The next day I sat at my desk, taking calls and drinking vanilla flavored contrast. Anyone who has had the pleasure of a liquid lunch of 2 x 450 ml of flavored contrast will know, it is all lies. Vanilla, Berry, Banana... it is all chalk-flavored and horrid.

I drove to DCA Boynton Beach feeling quite squeezy, but anxious to get it done. It was a busy center and I had a relatively long wait - as they were all desperately trying to get my insurance approval. It turns out, 48-hours is not sufficient time to turn around approval. I paid for two of the three procedures, as they did manage to get approval on one!

When it was time, I entered a little changing room, put on my gown, and waited for the IV to be put in my right arm. I went into the room and the radiologist explained he would inject the contrast at the end of the procedure. At this stage, I felt like I had to pee. It's an expected sensation when going through this process. I laid on my back, on a hard plank-like bed, with my arms overhead; then my IV was connected. I started moving into a donut-shaped tunnel, much more open than the MRI, and every now and again a voice would say "do not breathe." It was quiet, pleasant, and over in no time at all. The images collected would be used to form three-dimensional images which reveal abnormalities.

MRI - Diagnostic Centers of the Americas

Afterwards, I headed back to the Addison. I was not even back to the office when Kenia and Ronald phoned me with some exceptional news. All three tests were normal! That night was the first night in well over two weeks that I rested easy.

To wrap up this series of appointments, I visited Dr. Schey, who I absolutely love. I am subjected to more tests, which details I will not share for the sake of the weak-hearted. Most women I know are not comfortable visiting their OBGYN. Dignity, what is that?

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