i just wanted to make a remark or two concerning chemo brain/fog etc..(by the way...i was thrilled, though saddened, to hear of others who experienced the same crazy symptoms!)....the facts about me: breast cancer IIIA diagnosed 12/07 at yearly mammogram..call-backs etc. finally resulted in ultrasounds, etc...large-core needle biopsy diagnosis of tubular carcinoma tumor...invasive ductal carcinoma as well as some lobular invasive and lobular in situ etc. etc. ..anyhow, lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy..all nodes taken were positive.. oncotype test showed high hormone responsiveness and her2-. ...oncologist called for conservative treatment. he didn't think it was prudent to use "broad"-scale" assault of chemotherapy. i wasn't comfortable. my husband (who accompanied me to that visit ...his only visit to doctor with me during the initial stuff - men can be "chicken" sometimes!- suggested that we go to UAMS in little rock for second opinion.
second opinion: chemotherapy right away!!! mastectomy to follow. (cancer found in all axilllary lymph nodes which were removed with surgery..stil watching spot on my lung).
so..TAC every 3 weeks for 6 months. (i was very lucky. chemo sapped my energy and i struggled with reactions to zofran, etc., but i did very well during chemo.)
i chose double mastectomy, followed 3 weeks later by initial reconstruction/expander placement. (september 08).
all i know is that hallowe'en 08 is a totally forgotten day for me. the chemo brain/fog was very obvious to me at the time. blamed it on anesthesia/surgeries. also, stress related due to problems with marriage. (extreme problems!!! with husband and what i allowed and encouraged during that time! wish i could go back and change the things that i allowed and encouraged!! i effectively cut off my closest support system thinking it would help him to "deal with" the cancer!).
so..brain fog: darn it!!! i have been declared "cancer free"! whoo hoo! in the meantime, i have had to work, very hard, on restoring my marriage and my family relationships. the stress of all that, plus the depression, plus the physical trauma were easily blamed for the "chemo brain"
also, took lyrica for neuropathy in my feet and on my scalp. (it helped! ). i spent several months on lyrica (post chemo/mastectomy etc) thinking that anesthesia and lyrica were to blame for the nutty things happening to me.
most signifigant: the loss of concentration, the inability to focus, confusion over time/day/date/year, and complete loss of memory in many categories.
oh! i should mention that, pre-cancer, i was one of those "lucky/blessed" people who always remembered everything!!! including names of everyone i meet, even those random introductions at cocktail parties etc. we have a small cafe, and i used to feel such pride in recognizing our "regulars"!
now, i carry sharpie-pens in my pocket at all times, and i write stuff on my wrist or arm so i can remember what i am doing. i have two watches. i carry two cell phones-both of which have alarms set to alert/ring on the hour, every hour, during the day. the alarms help me to remember to look at the clock and ensure that i pick up kids from school or remember to go to work, etc.
yikes! makes me insane (and depressed!!) to deal with the loss of short term memory and the confusion over time/dates etc.
enough rambling...i just wanted to let someone know that i experienced soooooooooo many symptoms that i have found in this site! i am so pleased to hear uplifting stories!
yes, i have seen psychiatrists. yes, my oncologist is very aware of chemo brain (prescribed provigil to help that and to help the insomnia/sleepiness cycles - which does help, by the way, despite being very expensive~!)
long term prognosis?: maybe i am being too impatient. i have been finished with chemo for 15 months now. scary to imagine living like this forever. my former mental sharpness is gone forever, i fear.
however, glad to be alive (yada! yada! yada!). but, i cannot wait for the return of my former mental acuity. or at least the return of my ability to know what day it is or what month it is, etc. hee-hee!
i think i'll keep the insomnia! it gives me lots of time to do laundry late at night and to read things like this on the internet!
anyone struggling with lack of focus , etc...? consider asking doctor for provigil. and take those b vitamins!
in a depressing post-script: i have never posted any sort of blogs/comments on sites before tonight. it is liberating! i can freely say that i hate breast cancer and that it has done nothing to make me "stronger" and it has destroyed my marriage and it has both scared and scarred my kids and it has harmed our business and it has been a horrible thing for us!! i am looking forward to having this in the rear view mirror! it is good to know, in some sort of warped way, that i have to wait a long time for the chemo-brain/fog effects to be a memory rather than an everyday challenge.
thanks for all who shared!