Today I did two tests to evaluate my cardiac and pulmonary functions. Both are kind of fun. The echo cardiogram is kind of like an ultrasound, but instead of looking at a fetus it looks at your heart. The technician moves around the transducer on your chest with one hand and works the echo cardiogram machine with the other. Periodically the tech turned on the sound and I could hear the whoosh-thump of my heart doing its thing. Apparently my ejection rate is ok (measures how much blood I push through my heart with each beat; this is what can be affected by the adriamycin) so that's A Good Thing.
Equal fun with the pulmonary function test. The technician puts a clamp on your nose and you chomp down on a mouthpiece (similar to a scuba regulator). Then you do various exercises - take a deep breadth and exhale as hard and long as you can (measure lung volume), do rapid breathing (measure lung flexibility), measure the time it takes your lungs to purge themselves of Nitrogen (gas exchange capability).
I've had some exercise induced asthma in the past so they repeated some of the tests after giving me some albuterol. The numbers weren't significantly different, indicating that my airways were already pretty open (i.e I'm not suffering from low grade chronic asthma).
The pulmonary tech said my lung function was good - better than predicted for someone my weight and height.
Both the echocardiogram and PFT results will go to some central departments for a more complete review but the initial assessments on both of these is that I'm fine in terms of starting my chemo.
Tomorrow is the last big test, the PET scan. In this procedure you get injected with a short-lifed radioactive sugar that binds to fast growing cells (like cancer cells). The scanner then detects the decay of the particles and displays areas where there may be malignant cells. I'm a bit apprehensive about this test, since it can show other areas of cancer that haven't been detected by other means. It's important to know this obviously since the goal is to completely get rid of all the malignant cells. But it's still a bit scary to know that this test result could deliver some bad news. We'll see - hopefully no big surprise from this test. Thinking positive thoughts!!!!