My Scan Day Routine
I have a chest, abdomen, and pelvic CT scan coming up soon. My experiences over the last seven years have changed and I feel like I have witnessed a few different “scan day routines” having been treated at three different hospitals. Once you are diagnosed with lung cancer it is important to get regular CT scans and the frequency of scans is best determined between you and your care team.
I am going to talk a little bit about my day when I have scans and also when I receive my results.
From diagnosis to now...
When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I started treatment after getting biomarker testing, a bronchoscopy (three to be exact), a couple of CT scans, a brain MRI, and one PET scan. I started on a targeted therapy medication because it was found that I had the EGFR mutation. I'm not sure why but I had a CT scan very soon after starting treatment, it felt like one month but was probably a bit longer. It showed that the tumor was bigger and I started chemotherapy. Once that treatment started, I was put onto a three-month CT scan schedule and have been on that ever since. I did have one year where the scans were a bit more frequent because I was in a clinical trial. I have recently, with a little push from myself, have gone to six-month scans.
How does my support team help on scan days?
I feel like I have a wonderful support team. Just about every one of my immediate family members has gone to one or more appointments with me. My sister would come with me in the beginning because she would decipher the medical lingo and that helped out a lot. As time went on, my sister was not able to go with me due to work obligations and her family was growing. My mom stepped up and she would drive to each scan day with me and stay when the oncologist gave me the results. In 2020, it all changed when the pandemic rolled in. My mom would still go with me to appointments but due to restrictions, she would stay in the car. With the rise in covid cases, I went to appointments alone.
Scans can become an all-day affair
Scan day is an all-day affair. I like to get early appointments for the scan and then mid-afternoon appointments to see the doctor and get results. It takes me a little over an hour to get to the hospital from my house so we leave about two hours before the appointment to give us time to make it there and not get stuck in traffic. Once we are there I check in with the receptionist and fill out any needed paperwork. I patiently wait to be called back. Once it is my time to go back, I change into the hospital gown. I wear leggings and a sports bra so that I only have to change from the waist up. They have us double gown, so one gown in the back and then the other goes in the front so we are fully covered. There is a little bit more waiting and this is when I am given the drink that helps them read the scan. It is not a very pleasant drink but it helps! After that, it is scan time. The scan itself is only a few minutes. One scan is done without contrast and then they plug into the IV and the second scan is done.
I do consider myself lucky that I am able to get my scan results on the same day. My oncologist always comes in and gives the news right away as to not make me any more nervous than I already am. As of recent, I have been getting good news for scans but in the beginning, it was a bumpy ride.
Let me know in the comments how your scan day routine goes and what you think of barium!
Do you considered yourself to be a well-informed lung cancer patient?