Have you ever seen the movie called Silkwood?
Silkwood is a 1983 film starring Meryl Streep, Cher and Kurt Russell. It was inspired by the life of Karen Silkwood. She worked at a nuclear plant or something like that. In the film the employees would have to walk through a detector to make sure they weren’t exposed to radiation due to the materials they handled in the plants.
Meryl Streep’s character walks through and the sirens go off. She is brought into a shower area and is stripped, scrubbed and hosed down by other staff in hazmat suits. I watched this movie when I was younger and I’ve always been haunted by it, it was such a powerful true story.
As a cancer patient, exposure to radiation is part of the detection and treatment of your disease. This is scary on it’s own.
January ignited my memories of Silkwood.
As I’ve mentioned, recently I’ve been telling you about my back/ass pain….well…I know what it is now but of course it wasn’t a straight forward diagnosis.
I was sent by my radiation oncologist for an MRI of my back. The results showed that I have a protruding disc in the L5 S1 area of my lower back.
Okay so now I know why I’m in so much pain, but the test revealed something else… in my T1 T2 area of my back they found a 5mm x 3mm bleeding area or something else.
HOLD THE PHONE!
They told me the radiologist said they weren’t sure what it was…in medical terms they say ‘inconclusive’.
What does this mean? It meant I had to go back for a second MRI with contrast of my full spine and brain for a better reading.
They said best case scenario it’s nothing, worst case scenario it’s cancer…metastasis…aka my breast cancer would have spread.
They did say not to worry because they were pretty sure it wasn’t cancer but given my history they have to make sure.
Alright, let’s do this. So I went for a second MRI with contrast. I was in the machine for 120 minutes. That’s a long time given that it’s like being in a coffin. Ridiculously claustrophobic.
What freaked me out the most was the cage they put over my face.
Good news though, the spot they found was nothing. Brain and spine are clear of metastatic disease.
In between the MRI’s I had a full body bone scan. This involves going to the nuclear medicine department in the morning to get injected with a radiopharmaceutical, only to return a few hours later for the scan.
All this to say, I’m grateful for the pass on the cancer front, but the upheaval that all these tests and anxiety causes me is exhausting.
I think I might hit a wall soon…three years later and the cancer emotional rollercoaster ride is still going.
I also think if I walked through a machine to detect the radiation levels in my body, the sirens would ring and I’d be scrubbed down until I bled just like Maryl Streep’s character.