The story so far in the West Wing of the Churchill Hospital...last July I was diagnosed with leukaemia and told I had 12 to 18 months to live. For the last year I’ve been on a world-wide trial searching for a new drug to treat my cancer. Last week the trial was ‘paused’ in order for me to have a brain scan to see if the treatment was causing any brain damage.

I’VE BEEN twiddling my thumbs – first waiting for the brain scan appointment (“We are very busy, you know”) and now waiting for the results of the MRI scan.

For the benefit of those who have not had their brains sliced into hundreds of pieces by a digital camera in a Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine, this is my experience.

The hospital rang me on the Friday before England played Sweden in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final and asked if I could be available for a scan the net day during the game.

This seemed an odd request, but I jumped at the opportunity because I knew there was a long queue.

On the day in the waiting room I found out all the other patients having a scan were also phoned and offered a special appointment the day before – either the hospital had a lot of cancellations or they were using the World Cup to catch up on their backlog.

The MRI equipment is basically a large and very powerful magnet that takes up a large room in the hospital X-ray department and reveals every crack and crevice in your brain on a digital camera.

According to the technician: “There’s no place to hide. This machine will find out everything about your brain, except your thoughts.”

I had to fill in a questionaire before the scan and found the questions so strange I took my time. The technician was a bit impatient and took back the paper to fill it in for me and expressed surprise that I had not had a hip replacement, a knee replacement or an artificial heart or any body piercings.

“Nothing at all? No metal in your body?” he asked with an incredulous smile.

He changed that soon enough by inserting a metal needle in my arm for an injection halfway through the scan. Apparently the fluid he would give me “was harmless, would go to the brain and allow the medical team to see certain parts more clearly”.

Now I was ready. He led me to what looked like a large drawer or trolley on coasters with a special place for my head that almost grabbed it and keep it immobile in one space during the scan.

I hopped on the machine and he tucked a blanket around me warning me that on one of the hottest days of the year I would need protection from the icy atmosphere inside the machine.

Then he gave me an emergency button to push if I had any problems and shoved me into the magnet.

This is not a place for people who don’t like confined spaces. Fortunately I wasn’t able to think about my incipient claustrophobia very long because of the noise.

It was like I had been shoved into a blacksmith’s forge with stereophonic clanking or hammer striking metal.

The machine was moving me forwards and backwards to get the best view of my brain, accompanied by the scraping and pounding of metal which went on for the full 24 minutes of the first session of the scan.

Then I was pulled out for the injection and pushed back in for another 18 minutes.

During this second session the banging and clanging were even louder but I could hear another noise that grew distinctly more and more pronounced until it drowned out the whir of the magnet and the banging of the metal.

Suddenly I realised I was hearing a key moment in the World Cup. That must have been when England scored against Sweden, because above the clamour and din I could hear the cheers coming from the technician’s room.

Obviously the technician was multi-skilled and found it possible to run an MRI scan and watch or listen to the football match at the same time.

Clearly there was no escaping football mania, not even locked into the jaws of an MRI scanner and surrounded by one of the most powerful magnets in the entire NHS.

This Friday the 13th, must be my lucky day…