“So, it won’t be as bad as last time, will it, since the cancer wasn’t even in the skin on my left side?” I say. Am at the hospital, talking to my radiologist about upcoming radiotherapy.
He stares at me. “On the contrary, we didn’t zap all the cancer in your skin on your right side, and so the cancer came back. So, this time, I’m going to make absolutely sure that we kill every cancer cell and…”
“So, last time,” I say. “I got these terrible burns and Mum had to dress them and…”
“It’s OK darling,” Mum says, squeezing my hand. “I don’t mind.”
“The thing is,” I say, fighting back tears. “Everyone says ‘oh, radiotherapy, it’s nothing, I didn’t feel anything,’ but for me it has been by far the worst part of the treatment. I got those terrible burns and I couldn’t do anything except sleep and…”
“I’m sorry about that,” he says, pulling out a form. “Let’s go through this. Ah, here we go: so, you understand there’s an extra risk to the heart – on your left side.”
“Oh,” I say. “Um, is there anything I can do about that?”
“There are breathing exercises that we’ll practise in the planning meeting,” he says. “Holding your breath to move your chest wall away from your heart.”
“So what damage will it do to my heart,” I say, taking off my long-sleeved top: it’s too hot in here. “My brother’s friend died of Sudden Adult Death and…”
“You’re far too old for that,” Mum says: helpfully. “He was twenty one.”
“Look: you’re young and fit,” he says. “It won’t damage your heart, or not for years: twenty years or…”
“Oh OK,” I say.
“There’s something very calming about making a cocktail,” I say to Mum as I squeeze a lime into the glass. “Have just had this horrible doctor’s appointment, but in a few minutes am going to consume this lovely drink that have created. Am so glad that am doing Ginuary.”
“That’s lovely, darling,” Mum says.
Happy Wednesday everyone!
*2014. By Marsali Taylor. Book 2 in the Cass Lynch detective series set on Shetland. Written whilst the author was undergoing radiotherapy for bowel cancer. Cuddle to her. Isn’t the Internet amazing!