I now have CT scans about every six months to see if there are any signs of the cancer returning. These are at The Royal Marsden Hospital and I do my usual walk from the tube station listening to music and turn right onto Fulham Road, cross over and head towards the hospital. On the left are some shops and I always look at the street corner where I used to vomit before going into the radiotherapy sessions. My experiences there are drilled into my brain. But I take reassurance from how far I have come since those times.
In the CT scan waiting room, I complete a form and drink a few cups of cold water to remain hydrated. I am called into the preparation area and the nurse inserts an intravenous cannula into a vein in my left wrist. As it is flushed through with saline fluid, I answer questions about allergies and date of birth. Once called into the scanning room, the operators unroll some paper onto the bench and I lay down, putting the back of my head on a foam head rest.
The scanner whirs into life and the inner cylinder spins clockwise for the initial scans of my chest. Then I’m injected with iodine so the contrast enhances the image. A warm sensation flows into my bladder and a chemical taste hits the back of my throat. I feel dizzy for the final scans of my head and neck. The machine hums as the bench moves in and out of the doughnut-shaped scanner. The operators tell me in a tinny voice through a telecom to either hold my breath for a few seconds or breathe normally. When the scan is complete, I leave the scanning room to have a blood test and then the cannula is removed. I am told to wait around the hospital for half an hour, in case I have a bad turn.