Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chemo brain

I had my screening from the chemobrain people yesterday. They will evaluate my ability to perform certain tasks while I am in a MRI before, right after, and a year after chemo. I had told them that I wouldn't do this unless I got my results, which made them pause but that has been since cleared. I would be excluded if I were left-handed as they think differently, have metal embedded in my body, or was depressed. Depressed huh. How many recently diagnosed cancer patients facing imminent chemo are happy about it? Well it is normal to be sad about it. Let's see if you are truly depressed or just sad. Do you enjoy doing anything anymore? Well yeah but I'd enjoy them a lot more if I didn't have cancer.

Once it was determined that I wasn't 'truly' depressed, we went on to determine my cognitive abilities. Can I balance a checkbook? What else can I do? I said I could do the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzles and recently went to college getting the highest grades despite much younger classmates while learning a new language. We'll see what happens to these cognitive abilities. I really hate the idea that my brain might turn to mush even more than losing my hair.

My Uncle Mel died Sunday at 93. Just a few years ago, he was dancing at my son's wedding.

Despite the nasty wind and snow flakes, I was able to run-even easier than usual. Naomi spent a good part of the evening crying about some guy then being on the phone with him forever. Need to get this story soon.

I do spend a lot of time on the computer trying to research things. I had read somewhere than Nigerian women, especially the Yoruba sub-group, have more breast cancer than other groups. I worked with a Yoruba man and we have discussed their 'twin culture'. This sub-group has the highest rate of fraternal twinning than any other group. Indeed, Augustine had 2 sets in his family. (They also had an interesting take on the primogeniture rule-the 2nd boy to be born in a set was considered legally to be the 'first-born' as he was thought to be more clever for having his brother scope out the situation first). Why are these Yoruba women prone to super-ovulating? Is it because they eat alot of estrogen filled yams? (These tropical yams are completely different from the American sweet potato variety-they are almost 50 lbs and white and are a major source of food) Many Yorubans ended up slaves. In Brazil, their ancestors still speak Yoruban though American slaves were purposely split up so they would not speak their original languages. Many African Americans do have Yoruban roots and as a group, have higher rates of twinning and have a higher rate of getting TNBC. They are probably not eatting tropical yams. (the original birth control pills were synthesized from estrogens derived from Mexican yams). Another strange fact is that fraternal twin girls have a high concordance in getting breast cancer meaning if one twin gets it, the other has a good chance of it too. Fraternal twins are no more genetically similar than their singleton sisters but they are sharing the same environment. Of course if an identical twin gets breast cancer, the other one will probably too. The one who hit puberty first gets the cancer first-no other factor has any relevance (like number of children, menopause age, age of first child). How do all these factoids relate? I'll figure it all with my few remaining neurons.

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