In the basement of St Vincent’s is a white room lit with fluorescent lighting. It gives the feeling of being sterile but there’s a horrid starkness – it feels void of all emotion. As if what goes on in the room is of no importance. It is a room that delivers facts. Cold, clinical facts. There is no filtering. It’s as if humanity has no place in this room. It just happens that these facts have the potential to have a massive impact on my life. “It doesn’t mean anything,” I discipline myself for the umpteenth time. I look back at the trolley full of syringes and then at the piece of plumbing sticking out of my arm. The staff have just finished preparing me for the next procedure in a chair that resembles one in which you would receive a lethal injection.
This particular moment in the cold, sterile room happens to be the moment for my latest MRI. These MRIs are to check if the tumour has grown and where it has grown. This scan marks just under four years since I was diagnosed. I have had a rough few months; that’s probably an understatement. I’ve pushed through ongoing pain, nausea and fatigue. All of these are possible signs that things have become worse. I am aware of it, and I can see in the eyes of the people around me that they too are aware of the possibility. This is why this time is particularly stressful. My life literally rides on these results. I need to distract myself.
Randomly a song jumps into my head. It must be because of the socks. The floors are smooth vinyl. I have a rule: if it’s a slippery floor and I’m wearing socks, the only suitable form of transport is sliding. It is during the sliding that the song hits me. Happy for the distraction, I decide to create a little video while trying not to be busted by the staff. Distraction is a great way of getting through the stress of the event. This also has the extra benefit of adding humour. I’ve found humour to be a great way of dealing with moments and events that are difficult to comprehend.
Life’s too serious to take seriously so here is the video:
Going into the MRI is an experience that always reminds me of radiotherapy. It’s not as bad, but the reminder is enough! I am not a big person, but even I feel big on the hard table I am to lie on. My head is locked into a plastic prison, a mirror positioned above my eyes so I can see out. I think it is supposed to allow you to see the staff, which would be a great idea if they approached somewhere within the limited visual span. It’s intimidating having someone inject contrast into your body without being able to see them or what they are injecting. I do get a good view of my toes though.
Lying there, the MRI sounds like a dance party with irregular bass drops. There’s no beat, so no chance of dancing, and I couldn’t move anyway. But there is a huge amount of time to think. As if I needed more time to think. I won’t find out the results of these tests for another five days yet. This is just another way that cancer eats away at you.
The constant reminder that life is short is exhausting. Will this test show I need to have more treatment? Will these results show that I have run out of time? Is it my turn now to become one of the statistics?
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