Chemo is Mean

Written by Ann Morris.

I was suffering from Chemo Brain

It invades your body thoroughly, including your brain where it remains long after the treatments have stopped. That was the worst part. I couldn’t think clearly or make critical decisions. My memory was affected as were my higher level thinking skills. Getting ready for work was a challenge every morning. It took twice as long. I’d cry because I couldn’t remember what I decided to wear, where my shoes were, where I had just placed a blouse.

Jerry would help. At work I feared not having someone around to answer questions about my own department. I sat in administrative meetings and I was very insecure about everything. Some days were worse than others. For example, one day I could work at my computer on the website with a fairly clear mind. The very next day I would stare at the computer monitor trying desperately to remember how to do what I had done the day before. I was in trouble. I cried easily. I didn’t understand why everything was falling apart.

One afternoon Dr. Cook was talking to me about things and told me that I was very vulnerable. I can’t remember everything she said, but it helped me realize that I had to get help. My oncologist said there was no scientific evidence to support the “chemo brain” theory, but he set me up with a neurologist in Dallas for a battery of tests. The neurologist concluded that I was indeed suffering from chemo brain. He believed in chemo brain and that chemo can reside in the frontal lobe of the brain for two or three years and affect critical thinking skills and the ability to make administrative decisions. He said I needed time, or at least another year to reach full potential, or at least as close to it as I would get. He also advised me to share this with my colleagues at work. I refused. I had too much pride. It was a very difficult thing for me to admit. Finally, many months later, I felt I had to tell our new Vice President, but I didn’t tell anyone else on campus. I didn’t think they would understand and I abhor pity. It was the worse two-and-a-half years of my career.