In reality I was still radioactive all the way through Jan and Feb 2015. It would have been impossible to do a PET scan as the radiation from radiotherapy would have overpowered the levels used in the PET. So I met the Oncologist in Feb 2015 (A year after first diagnosis) and he decided to organise an Ultrasound Fine needle aspiration in March 2015.
Now an Ultrasound Fine needle aspiration is a strange and specialised procedure, the oncologist referred me to a different hospital to have it done. The procedure was done in a breast cancer screening unit, and yes the biopsy was from my neck.. The procedure much to my surprise was preformed by one of the top breast cancer specialist in Ireland, the reason been it is so precise. Basically there is no anesthetic – they use liquid ice to freeze the area. They take x-rays to help locate the lymph nodes. Once located the surgeon with one hand will operate an ultrasound wand and with the other will push a long thin needle into the area, you can’t move during this and you are 100% awake. The needle is then guided by the ultrasound to the lymph node (Lymph nodes are the size of a pea but mine were swollen to about 50%) They then take a sample from inside the node. Now these samples are actually cells and from these cells they can tell if there is cancer present. The room next to the procedure room is a lab, that is how quick they need to examine them. So they extract the cells and basically go into the adjoining room and look at the cells under a high density computerised microscope. The first results were instant and showed cancer cells active, so they did a second then a third and then a final extraction. All four had shown the presence of cancer cells. Why am I going into so much detail here? Well because this was first of all a very different procedure for lymphoma, in 2015 it was not part of the regime and the oncologist wanted to see how it would work on a HDL person. Secondly it was the first time that I went negative, I walked out of the procedure and looked Anita straight in the face and said “I’m Fucked, I have a few weeks to live” Now from the procedure room to the car is about a five minute walk – we never said a word to each other. And just like that I turned around and said “there is no way this is going to beat me I am going to kick the shite out of this for once and for all” That was it, a few minutes of negativity in twelve months and I was back up and fighting.