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Images of my tumour

When I had my CT scan before Christmas I asked whether it would be possible to have copies of the images. I was very pleased to find that, yes, it was possible, although it might take a couple of weeks to get it onto a CD. The original plan was to hand the CD to me when I visited the hospital, but the snow intervened to prevent a physical handover. In the end I asked for the CD to be posted, and it arrived this morning.

There are a total of around 250 pictures, corresponding to slices through my body. It has been nearly a month since the consultant interpreted these images for me, so my memory of what was said may not be accurate. I’m only going to include a few images of the tumour site itself, because I’m not confident enough to be able to pinpoint the enlarged lymph nodes.

Here we can see my spine and ribs in bright white and the interior of my lungs shows black because they are full of air. Roughly in the centre of the image there is a ring of grey surrounding a black hole. The black hole is the inside of my oesophagus, while the grey ring is the wall of the oesophagus itself.

In this second image, you can see that the wall of the oesophagus is much thicker than in the previous image, and the inside is therefore much narrower. That is the reason that I’ve had difficulty swallowing. This is the upper end of the tumour.

In this final image you can see a circular grey region just above the spine, and on the other side of that there is an approximately triangular region about the same colour as the grey circle. That triangular region is the part of the tumour that is in my stomach, which is the darker grey region that contains the triangle. The dark grey is the pint of water I had to drink before they did the scan. The black at the top of my stomach is the air in it where the water didn’t quite fill my stomach.

These are just three of the images, the ones I felt reasonably confident that I remember their interpretation. I was shown the enlarged lymph nodes, both the regional ones (those near my stomach) and the others. I was also shown that my major organs appear to be unaffected so far. I hope that that state of affairs will continue. In fact, I am quite hopeful that the chemotherapy is already reducing the size and effects of the tumour, as I am feeling far better now than I was even last week.

The next CT scan will be done after the end of the third cycle of chemotherapy, in about two months. I’ll ask if I can have copies of those images too, as it will be extremely interesting to do the comparison.

{ 11 } Comments

  1. Jayne Alexander | 24 January 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Wow i find those images completely fascinating and informative. Thank you Chris for sharing those with us. I too will be very interested to see the difference after your 3rd cycle. It is amazing what chemo can achieve. I’m so glad you’re feeling better than last week and no doubt Gillian has to have some praise for cooking you those lovely meals from the book your friends gave you.

    Love Jayne x

  2. icyjumbo | 24 January 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I hoped they would be interesting rather than gross. Thanks for letting me know.

    Oh yes, Gillian deserves praise! Not some, a lot. She has been fantastic. I couldn’t have better support at home.

  3. John | 24 January 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink


    When I spoke to you on the phone, I had no idea that so much water had passed under the bridge since I bumped into you at WRH. This blog is fascinating and I am pleased to be an avid reader. Your comment about the positive thinkers rang a bell with me. A comment made to me by a church visitor, when I was at my lowest with mental depression, implied very strongly that my illness reflected a lack or weakness of (Christian) faith. Whilst that may be true, it could be construed that religious believers don’t suffer from depression – not true in my experience or that of several Christian friends.

    My love and prayers to you and Gillian. Hope to see you again before too long.


  4. icyjumbo | 24 January 2010 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I think the start of chemotherapy treatment is a time when an awful lot is happening very fast. It has made it easy for me to find interesting subjects for blog posts, which probably helps with finding new readers.

    It’s so very easy for people to pass judgement on others, isn’t it? I hate it when it happens to me, especially when the comments are unsolicited. It is because I hate it so much that I wrote in such strong terms about the “positive thinkers.” I can’t believe your visitor has ever experienced depression for him or herself, otherwise they could never have said such a thing. As I mentioned in that post, reading Learned optimism really changed how I view the world, and has given me a lot of stabilizing ballast that I now find invaluable.

    I’d love to meet up for a chat and a (soft, I’m afraid) drink sometime. I suspect I’m much less constrained than you are, so it might be best if you were to pick a time/date/place. I’m in “purdah” until the Tuesday, but I’m sure we can find a good time. I do hope so.

    Love to you and Joy, from both of us.

  5. robert hughes | 24 January 2010 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Great to read you’re feeling an improvement.

  6. icyjumbo | 25 January 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Robert. It’s quite a relief, I must say.

  7. Joan Lock | 25 January 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for commenting on my blog. I will be linking to yours – maybe you can do the same? I find one of the hardest things to deal with is the unsolicited advice that always seems to have the sub-text that somehow this is all my fault – I am overweight, my father had treatable bowel cancer and I should have been pushing for frequent colonscopies. Hey, shit happens and I intend to shovel it as hard as I can.

  8. icyjumbo | 25 January 2010 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I certainly will link to your blog. I was surprised to find how few of us there are actually blogging about the experience of having and fighting cancer, given how many people suffer from it. We need to support each other, which is why I went looking for like-minded people such as you.

    I have a friend who is extremely knowledgeable about statistics, and he says that these risk factors are usually tiny. In some people the risk factors are measurably higher, maybe two or three times normal, but 2xtiny is still pretty damned small. He is basically saying it’s just bad luck that people like us got cancer. Our raised risk factors almost certainly had very little to do with it.

    I like that view of the world. It wasn’t my fault that I got cancer. I was unlucky. Sometimes we are unlucky and sometimes we are lucky. I look out for the lucky events and celebrate them.

  9. David Allsopp | 25 January 2010 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Yes – the press often like to scream about how X or Y “doubles your risk of Z”, but neglect to mention that the original risk was one in half a million or similar.

  10. David Allsopp | 25 January 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Forgot to add: it’s the crucial difference between “statistically significant” (i.e. it’s probably a real factor not a random blip) and “significant” (likely enough that normal people should actually give a damn)!

  11. icyjumbo | 25 January 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Quite right! “Statistically significant” and “important” are orthogonal qualities, too often mistaken for each other. Especially by research scientists (!)