Factor X

Questions on which to ponder and wonder, when I wander: “How much of a factor was I in my own disease? How much of a factor am I in my own survival?

Was my brain cancer the result of an over active brain, of thinking too much, thinking too long, thinking too deeply, or simply too hard. In hindsight, deep thoughts probably are best left for philosophers. Did I brainstorm too much? Was I too mindful? My mind was certainly too full with the extra growth. Perhaps a degree in chemistry and a PhD in Biochemistry was too much for my brain… perhaps it was that there was too much benzene and other nasty carcinogens being used in the practical sessions, and perhaps there was too much nuclear magnetic resonance during my PhD and too much complex thought in getting the thesis written, finally. Perhaps not, academic study would be consigned to history if using your brain caused brain cancer.

Was it that my favourite film, all time favourite, was, and still is “P.S. I love you”, a romantic comedy about the tragic loss of someone with a brain tumour? Can you catch a brain tumour from watching films about them? Perhaps not. 

Was due to my love to tuna, the easily misheard “tumour”. Tuna fish, flaked and mixed with mayo, on an oven baked spud, or tuna pasta bake, the way Mum makes it with lots of cheese and broken crisps on the top, they have to be amongst my favourite meals. After all, they do say that fish is good for your brain. Is it that too much tuna causes tumour? Perhaps not.

Was it my learning to play the saxophone from a Tune-A-Day book, easily misheard as “Tumour Day”? Was it learning the sax that did it years ago and the tumour has been sitting there waiting for it’s moment, it’s perfect moment to come and perform, take centre stage? Has Tune-A-Day finally arrived: Tumour Day, a West End Musical maybe? Perhaps not.

Was it playing rugby, in the front-row particularly, that caused it? Too many bangs on my head, too many cranial knocks and thuds? Too much concussion. Too much teamwork, too much Captaincy, too much rugby-ness, swearing, beering, dancing and touring? Perhaps not.

Was it living with too much fear? Was it being the one who tries so hard to not be afraid of failure that being afraid was just too much? Perhaps not. Was it mobile phones and the Techno’ Age? Microwaves, radio waves, wireless and hands-free? Perhaps not. If it were, then I would not be one in a hundred thousand. Or was it that I had a faulty gene or genes? Was it that I became a mutant, and my brain cells went out of control? Was it the environment, am I environ-mental, or just mental? Or just unlucky? Who knows.

How much was I a factor in my own survival? How much of my survival is due to the careful handiwork of the craftsman and master neurosurgeon Mr Nigel Suttner, the careful brain frying of the physicists and radiotherapists, and the clever chemistry of my Neuro-oncologist Allan James? How much of it is down to my grit, and fight, determination to get better and positive thought? How much of my survival is down to me having a crystal, sometimes in my bra? How much is due to blueberries, acaia juice, superfoods and Hemp on my breakfast, and having a Guinness before bed time? How much was due to prayers being said, blessings being given, candles being lit, vibes being sent, the thoughts being thought about me, from both near and far?

Who knows what the Factors were, it might just be that I have the X Factor.

Factor X

Vicky Galbraith, November 2011

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