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"Mrs Killeya, what a beautiful brain you have" Scans, anxiety and keeping fingers crossed.

Tomorrow is ‘Scan Day’. I know that I am not alone in my anxiety. For many people going for a scan is a stressful experience – it brings back memories of what has gone before and worries about what might happen in the future.

I remember the first CT and MRI scan I had. I’d recently found out that I had stage 2 melanoma. My husband and I had an appointment with the plastic surgeon and one of the skin cancer nurses. It was one of the very few occasions – if not the only one – that my husband could come into an appointment with me due to the Covid pandemic. My husband and I had been talking about scans before that appointment and were wanting to make sure that I would be offered them. The reality that this cancer could have spread beyond the lesion on my arm was starting to sink in. The plastic surgeon and cancer nurse were lovely and very reassuring, and a scan was booked in for me before the next surgery.

I don’t remember a great deal about those initial scans. I suppose I tried to comfort myself in the idea that I thought it was unlikely they would find melanoma in distant places. I wasn’t as optimistic about the idea that the melanoma hadn’t travelled to nearby lymph nodes. What I do remember about those first scans is that the one for my brain took place within the cancer hospital. It was the first time that I’d visited there. It shook me to think that I was in there – a place that I had driven past so many times and had at the back of my mind always thought to myself “I hope I never end up in there..” My only memory of my first CT scan was that they told me that sometimes when the contrast is injected it feels like you are wetting yourself – and wow does it!

Those first scans were clear. I later found out after a biopsy that I had stage 3 melanoma and would start treatment. Throughout those months of receiving targeted treatment, I didn’t ever feel overly nervous because I hoped that the treatment was keeping things at bay. On one occasion, I was so relaxed in the MRI scanner that I fell asleep.

Now, I am in a different place: my melanoma spread to my lungs, neck and brain. Just before the scan that showed that I had lesions on my brain, I remember chatting with one of the radiographers. I said how I daydreamed that one day they would look at my brain and tell me how ‘beautiful’ and ‘extraordinary’ it was. When I came out of the scanner they did tell me the thing I had been daydreaming about – I had a beautiful brain. We laughed and I said I expected a mention about the beautiful structure of my brain in The Lancet. A few days later, I was sat in my hospital bed, and was told that they had found ‘white lines’ on my scan that they wanted to investigate further… I kept thinking why did I tempt fate? Why did I go into that scan all jokey because all along there was the possibility that a tiny amount of melanoma nestling on my brain.

My last set of scans a few months ago showed that the gamma-knife surgery I’d had on my brain had worked, they could only see scar tissue on my lungs and my lymph node in my neck was ‘insignificant.’ So, immunotherapy was working. Those particular scans in the hospital weren’t pleasant. I was in the middle of being hospitalised for colitis. I remember lying on a hospital trolley outside the MRI scanning room, feeling completely out of it. The anti-sickness tablets I was on were making me unable to communicate properly and every time I opened my eyes, the world spun. I overheard people in the corridor asking if “that lady on the trolley ok” – that lady was me, I was mortified! The scanning team were wonderful. I felt like a fragile old lady being moved from the trolley to the scanner. I was also padded up with ‘big girl pants’ to avoid any accidents – I was so scared about that, that I honestly couldn’t think about much else.

Tomorrow is the first time that I have been scanned for a few months. I’m going in early – the hospital asked if I could go in for just turned 7am and I jumped at the chance – get the scans done early, get them out of the way. I’ve then booked a hair appointment for the afternoon.

I am anxious. It’s not just going in and having the scans, it’s also the waiting for the results. It’s the feeling that we are searching for melanoma that is deeply unsettling – is it in the same places as before or has it found a new home? If they find it, what will happen with my treatment? I doubt that my scans will be NED (No evidence of disease) as my little lymph node in my neck is still swollen – perhaps not as much – but it isn’t completely ‘normal.’ I’ll be chuffed to bits if that is all they can see. Then it will be another three months until the next one. Three months of feeling kind of reassured, but not completely.

So, tomorrow my plan is to be organised – yes, my clothes will be all laid out ready tonight – I’ll go and get these scans done! I know that I will probably end up having a laugh because I always do with the lovely team in the hospital. I’ll then try and put the results out of my mind for a little while because it’s my son’s 15th birthday next week and that is something to truly celebrate!

I’ll let you know the results – please keep your fingers crossed for me x

1 commento

06 nov 2023

Keeping everything crossed for you Charlotte and praying all will be reassuringly well.

Mi piace
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