Russian Roulette

“Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘do I feel lucky?'” (Dirty Harry)

And, welcome to my world.

It’s the Friday evening before Christmas and I find myself in A&E, with sudden and extreme back pain, because of a reaction to an injection which boosts white cell production, during chemotherapy. This is unusual, I hasten to add, but those who are close to me know that I’m prone to pulling stunts, like this. My body doesn’t seem to discriminate between what’s good for it and what’s deadly; it’s foreign and that’s enough! During the course of this evening, a spinal X ray reveals a large, white spot on one of my lumbar vertebrae, causing a degree of concern to the consultant looking after me. “Vanessa, I’m concerned about this!” Pointing at aforementioned X ray. I can’t remember what I said but I do remember what I thought….not printable. I’m thoroughly checked, Velindre Cancer Centre are informed and an MRI scan is duly booked.

You can get many things, that you don’t want, with breast cancer: the interruption that chemotherapy brings to your life (I can take six months off work, no problem!). The loss of a breast or two (who’s counting?). The depletion of any remaining oestrogen (Didn’t want a sex life, anyway!) and so on and so on. Top of the list, however, is white spots on a spine (Could this be secondaries?) Well, my lymph nodes are clear so this cannot be. Not so fast! I discover, online, (and, yes, I am aware that, in the world of online medicine, anything and everything will kill you) that breast cancer can metastasize through the blood without showing in the lymph nodes. So, why do we all get so excited about clear lymph nodes? That’s one to ask my oncologist when I get the results of the MRI scan.

On the plus side, I’ve had an X ray that I wouldn’t have had, if my body had reacted like most everyone else and I’ve experienced the best of the NHS. The staff in A&E, at UHW Cardiff, were professional, kind and efficient and I’m grateful for their concern and prompt response.

I’m feeling lucky…..I think.

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