Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chemobrain without the chemo

Shortly after I entered Cancerland, I was asked to be on a study that monitors brain activity, before, during, and after chemo. There would be three groups of people: age matched controls, people with BC but did not need chemo and finally my group, women who had BC who needed chemo. To qualify for the study, I couldn't be depressed or left-handed. The latter apparently process memory tasks differently than right handed people. About the depression, who wouldn't be depressed right after receiving a cancer diagnosis? I was told that it was OK to be sad but did I still derive pleasure from something?  I guessed I did. Well then you aren't depressed.

I agreed to this on the condition that I get to see my individual results. The powers that were had to be consulted on this. Yes they would at some point review my own results with me. This hasn't happened; on my list of things to do. My brain activity would be monitored while I was in a fMRI which monitors blood flow to different areas of the brain. I wore special glasses that flashed questions at me and I had a joystick to answer. I was stuffed in a narrow tube for an hour with jack hammer noises all around me. Good thing I wasn't claustrophobic. I did get to see my brain in the static views (never got to see my brain in action). I looked carefully for tumors, my biggest fear though this is not the type of MRI used to detect them. But if there was a large tumor, I would be able to see it. I was also told that my brain had plenty of folds so it didn't look like I had Alzheimer's.

They finally shared the results at the recent San Antonio BC symposium.
Bottom line: Deficits in memory tasks were noted in both sets of BC patients even before chemo started. The chemo group showed the most deficits. All of this seemed to reverse itself when the scans were repeated a year after chemo.

I do want to see my individual results. My suspicion is that I process things differently.

We are having a warm spell. Yay! But since it snowed again, it was slushy and slippery when I went out this morning.

The next 2 days will have big changes in store for a few of my friends and family.  Can't elaborate.

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