I’m in the Plymouth mobile PET/CT Scan unit early morning – the nurse has gone out to get the radioactive sugar solution that they inject an hour before the scan takes place and I’m on my own in a small room looking at my hairless arm with its canula and syringe.
Modern medicine. I know where I’d be without it – I’d be twice dead. Once with peritonitis in my 20’s and now cancer in my 50’s. This is a lucky time to be alive, and I’ve been lucky within that; not everyone gets the same breaks. I’m well aware of it, going through the system and knowing what’s happening to others in my circle of family and friends.
The nurse returns and injects the marker solution which will be taken up by any fast metabolising cells, instructing me to “Keep away from small children and pregnant women for a few hours”. OK – I’ll do my best… I read for an hour and drink water.
Then I’m lying on the bed of the scanner with my arms stretched above my head, knees up slightly on a foam pad and the calm voice of the radiologist talking to me through the intercom. It’s not warm or cold, and it’s quiet except for a faint humming of equipment. I close my eyes and play a game with my senses: the mechanism is very smooth as I’m conveyed back and forth through the donut of the scanner and with my eyes shut I have to try to decide if I’m moving or not. I can’t always tell, sometimes I think I am but then I take a peek and I’m in the same spot…
And I’m thinking about my body wondering what’s happening in there, mentally following the scanner as it does its work visualising a thousand slices to create a 3D image:
And this is me from front to back like an animated Francis Bacon drawing:
These are from the pre-treatment scans and I can see the nodes of cancer there. I admit to being nervous of the results of the forthcoming scans. Cancer detection and its treatment remains an approximate science. There’s no way to determine for sure whether the cancer is gone or not, though the signs are good. The scans are a simply a visual guide, and only pick up significant growth masses. There’s no way of telling what’s happening on a cellular level, and this explains the length and severity of the chemotherapy treatment because years of experience shows that this quantity of treatment works for most people. I get my results on the 27th.