But I'm not really sorry either.
Early last month, I had blood drawn for what was to be my very last CEA level. Hopefully ever. Yes, that's Carcinoembryonic antigen. It was 4.9 when I was diagnosed with colon cancer 5.5 years ago. The highest it's been since then was in the range of 0.7. Until last month. It hit a whopping 1.9. Normal, but still enough to worry me a little, considering that for the last 4 years, it's been < 0.5. All I really wanted was to repeat the test, but my internist referred me to the oncologist who, for reasons unknown to me, did not return my phone calls. For 3 weeks.
I dropped by his office on Monday and asked the secretary whether he'd gotten the messages. She said she'd see if he had a minute to speak to me. Half an hour later, she returned, chart in hand, to inform me that the doctor said I had nothing to be concerned about. The result was normal. Wrong answer. Even from him it would have been the wrong answer. I can read lab reports and I've been very much aware of the normal values for this particular test for more than 5 years.
"Probably nothing to worry about, but if you'd like we can repeat it in a couple of months just to be sure" would have been OK, but by the time a patient, or in this case former patient, calls 4 times and drops by twice, with no response from the doc, sending out a secretary to pat her on the head is definitely NOT the best approach.
I don't remember everything I said, but the gist of it was that I didn't plan to bet my life that he was guessing correctly. Pretty much what I'd told the internist who thought I didn't need that first colonoscopy. I also remember demanding a copy of my chart. The secretary said she'd have to talk to her manager and 20 minutes later ushered me back to speak to the oncologist.
That's how I ended up in the PET/CT scanner this morning. Overkill, I know but I hope the doctor was right.
Update, 12/13: The doc called today. He was right. Now I just have to worry whether the insurance company will consider this medically necessary. If I have to pay for it myself, it will be worth it for the peace of mind - but don't tell them.