Monday, January 12, 2015

"Brain Freeze," A Poem by Susan Rubin

I'd like you to know about my friend, Susan. She's smart and funny and one of my heroes. Susan does not let go. She pushes and prods the experts until they recognize her chemo-related disabilities and provide resources for her and others.  She sends them copies of our book so they'll see the research and understand that chemo brain is real. 

But Susan continues to struggle.  See her beautiful poem, below.
Brain Freeze

By Susan Rubin
Long Island, NY

It is a homonym 
You know 
But unexpected 
The sensual taste 
Of the ice cream 
And the awakening of the freeze
Hands caressing the 
Invasion of the forehead 
That subsides so 

Brain freeze 
It is a homonym you know 
The traveling vemon 
The red toxicity 
Hammering the brain 
Exploding the fronal lobes 

I tentatively refused 
The potent 
That would increase my odds 
He called me 
The oncologist 
“If it was my wife” 
Well there you go 
Go no further

I opted for 
The odds for survival 
He did not tell me 
Nobody did 
Fighting the odds 
By a few percentage 
Was in leiu of a 
Clouded mind

The red poured in 
The brain cells flowed out 
In a free flow 
Attacking the road map 
Of my survival 
My memory 
My Attention 
My Problem solving 
My recall 
My ease 
The brutally of 
A red IV

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

For a Sharper Memory, Play Like a Kid!

This video about Stephen Jepson will inspire you to change your life. You probably have many of these items around the house already. I am a believer!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Is "Chemo Brain" a Disability Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)?

People often report debilitating cognitive issues following treatment for cancer.  I wondered, are there legal protections available to them if they can no longer work?

To find out, I spoke with Joanna Morales, an attorney and the former director of the Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC), a national, joint program of the Disability Rights Legal Center and Loyola Law School Los Angeles.
The CLRC provides free information and resources on cancer-related legal issues to cancer survivors, caregivers, health care professionals, employers, and others coping with cancer.  I hope you find the information helpful.  -- Originally published in 2010 but worth repeating.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How to Use This Blog

Idelle Davidson

Welcome. I hope you'll find the articles and stories here valuable. To begin, use the SEARCH BOX, top right.  Type in keywords like, lymphoma or breast cancer or memory or multitasking or driving, or word retrieval, or exercise, and see what articles and resources pop up. Also browse the LABELS index (right column, bottom of page) and check out reader favorites.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Erdheim-Chester Histiocytosis: An Orphan Disease With a Champion

Published 11/18/2014 in the Washington Post 

By Idelle Davidson

It wasn’t until she read her husband’s autopsy report that Kathy Brewer learned his diagnosis — a disease so rare that not one doctor had figured it out. His illness began in 1998, the year Kathy, then 38, and, Gary Brewer, then 58, got married. But Gary was busy with his job as a school superintendent in DeRidder, La., and paid little attention to his backaches and knee pain, chalking them up to overexercising. Eventually, though, those first symptoms led to constant fatigue and nausea, facial numbness, congestive heart disease and kidney failure. Three years after receiving a kidney transplant, Gary couldn’t walk or swallow. Several of his organs shut down, and he died in 2007.

The cause was Erdheim-Chester disease (ECD), one of 7,000 diseases tracked by the nonprofit National Organization for Rare Disorders. The National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration call such ailments “orphan” diseases because they each affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Can Sea Snails Fix Chemo Brain?

Aplysia Californica
It appears we have a few things in common with sea snails. In fact, neurobiolgists have long recognized the scientific possibilities of their nervous systems, using them in studies of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They are reflexive creatures, containing only about 20,000 neurons compared to the 100 billion in the typical adult brain. But the neurons are large and relay information much the same way as in humans. That simplicity helps scientists isolate how they—and we—learn.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Wanted: Chemo Brain Rehab Programs - An Open Letter to Cancer Centers

As a science writer who went through cancer and post-treatment fog and then wrote a book about the “chemo brain” phenomenon, I can tell you there is enormous frustration in the cancer community over the lack of systems to help with quality of life.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Poetry of Chemo Brain

I would like to congratulate Elise Partridge whose poem, “Chemo Side Effects: Memory,” was just posted on former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s Poetry Forum website.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Memory Problems After Cancer? Computer Games May Help

If you've been through cancer treatment and you are struggling with memory, concentration, multitasking and/or word retrieval issues, you may be hoping for that golden portal, that doorway back to your pre-cancer self.