Monday, July 6, 2009

Book report: ChemoBrain by Eileen Clegg

But first a little side note on this story of a mother who refused treatment for her then six year old autistic son who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma with a very high survival rate. She never took him to the doctor. Finally, she lost custody of him and he went to live with his father but by then it was too late and he had leukemia and died at age nine. She has been arrested on all sorts of charges and will face some jail time.

I am all for people getting the treatment they want to cure them. I view a doctors recommendations as suggestions and before I accept them I make sure I understand them and their impact on my body. Its my body, my choices. But if you are caring for a six year old who is autistic and not capable of making the decisions you must make the right decisions for him. If he is too young to make the decisions about his body, shouldn't you follow advice that will allow him to grow up and be able to make those decisions? Is that too much to ask?

No on to my book report.I had heard of Eileen Clegg's book on chemobrain some months ago. But then my chemo brain prevented me from remembering to purchase it, then once purchased, I kept forgetting to read it. Finally this weekend, I made it through it. Its not that the book is badly written, I found it a little technical but fairly easy to follow.

I have no medical training (merely am a professional patient) and this is what I take from it: Chemotherapy destroys fast growing cells. Brain cells are also fast growing so during chemo, new cells don't grow to replace older ones which are dying off. Those missing cells are never replaced. Hence, memory gaps, chemobrain, or cognitive deficit.

The next point is that cognitive deficit can occur as the result of stress (such as cancer diagnosis and treatment), natural aging (such as menopause - including chemo induced menopause), and other natural causes. So if a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer (stress), receives treatment (brain cells die off and menopause is induced), which factor causes the cognitive deficit? No one is rushing to call it chemo brain because it apparently occur for other reasons.

Finally, there have been small and inconclusive studies on this. The problem is a patient can have stress, chemo and menopause simultaneously so how do you separate which one is which? I am not sure that I do. I think I just claim chemo brain.

But if you want to read it for your self, please do. She also has sections on the affect of chemo brain on children and young adults. I do recommend the book.

One side note, when I purchased this book in the store, the cashier looked at the title and said something like 'hmmm Chemo brain, sounds like some weird science fiction thing.' I replied 'I only wish it was'.

So now I am through with that I am off for my nasty procedure today that I will just not think about all day. I was given the option at work to take the morning off or to work. I said 'sit around at home and stress about it or go into work and be distracted?' Thanks but I'll take distracted. See you at 8.

1 comment:

Dennis Pyritz, RN said...

Special invitation to all breast cancer bloggers. This month the Being Cancer Book Club is reading “The Adventures of Cancer Bitch” by S. L. Wisenberg, “witty and relentless, surprising and honest. Wisenberg has walked through the Valley of Cancer and she is willing to tell all; this is a cornucopia of breast cancer information as well as a very smart, funny read from an excellent writer."—Audrey Niffenegger, author, The Time Traveler’s Wife.
Book discussions are in Mondays’ posts. Take care, Dennis