Friday, March 14, 2014

How to Use This Blog

By
Idelle Davidson

Welcome. I hope you'll find the articles and stories here valuable. To begin, browse the LABELS index (right column, bottom of page) and check out reader favorites such as:

1) How Chemotherapy Changes the Way You Think
There you'll find my four-part series on how treatment affects your mind, including an introduction and a discussion of issues with executive functioning (planning ahead, multitasking, solving problems, etc.), information processing and word retrieval.

2) Research
You may be surprised to learn that scientists are finally beginning to connect the dots between chemotherapy and cognitive dysfunction.  Read about advances at the University of
Rochester, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Stanford, Indiana University and other institutions.


3) Ask the Experts
Doctors and others answer readers' questions about brain fog.

4) New York Times Consults Blog With Dr. Silverman
Dan Silverman responded to readers' questions in the New York Times about "chemo brain.'  Read a sampling of the questions and answers here or click on the link to the actual New York Times blog.

5) Is "Chemo Brain" A Disability Under the Americans With Disabilities Act?
Read my Q & A with attorney Joanna Morales of the Cancer Legal Resource Center and learn how you can protect yourself in the workplace.

6) Stories
For those of us who have traveled through cancer or are experiencing it now, how does sharing our stories help us find our way?  The answer lies in connection, in community.

My favorite story is from Lori. Find it in the LABELS index under "I Appreciate Your Book." The first line of her note to us is what made the two years it took to write our book all worth it.  She begins: "I would like to tell you how much I appreciate your book - I bought it yesterday, read it all night, with a highlighter, crying...."

If you read all the stories submitted to this blog, you'll come away with a pretty good idea of the toll "chemo brain" takes on cancer survivors and their families.  Michelle writes about trying to be loving and patient with her husband who went through chemo for Hodgkin's and is now chronically forgetful.  Susan M. tells us about her breast cancer diagnosis at age 38 and how she is still dealing with fog and depression.  Lois wonders if she has Alzheimer's.  Bruce Lantry was treated for leukemia.  He has found ways to cope with his loss of mental focus.

These stories are here to validate that each of us matters.

Also, make use of the SEARCH BOX at the top right of the page.  Put in keywords like lymphoma or breast cancer or memory or multitasking or driving, or word retrieval, or exercise, and see what articles and resources come up.

And finally, to really learn about "chemo brain," to understand what causes it and what you can do about it,  get a copy of our book: "Your Brain After Chemo: A Practical Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus" by Dan Silverman, MD, PhD and Idelle Davidson.  See the reviews on Amazon.

11 comments:

  1. A great and complete medical resource site here. Thank you for putting this up and making things very available for those who need it.

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  2. Thanks, Bobby! Please feel free to share the link to our blog with others.

    All the best.

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  3. The mental anguish and suffering that results from chemotherapy is really the worst part of the entire treatment. Medical researchers should spend more time trying to address these side effects.

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  4. Casey, the number of researchers taking treatment-related cognitive impairment seriously is growing, but bottom line, there is nothing concrete yet that fixes -- or even better -- prevents chemo brain.

    It may make you feel better to know that there's a group called, "The International Cognition and Cancer Task Force" that convenes periodically to review the latest science in the field. The ICCTF is made up of neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, and imaging and other experts from medical/research institutions all over the world.

    Next year, ICCTF will meet in Paris. Here's the link: http://www.icctf.com/index.php?4

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  5. Brain Cancer is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration.

    As a matter of fact the SSA has expedited all claims that have to do with brain cancer under it's compassionate allowances act.

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  6. Hi, I see that your sign-in name is "Disability Help." I would like to learn more about what you do. Would you mind sending me your email address so that I can reach you? I'm at IdelleDavidson@gmail.com.

    Thanks for posting.

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  7. Dear Idelle,

    I've just picked up the book, "Your Brain After Chemotherapy", and even though it's been hard to read I'm so grateful. I am a 4 year survivor of triple negative breast cancer. I had 14 rounds weekly of Adriamycin & Cytoxin followed by 12 rounds of Pacilitaxol.

    Tried returning to work in accounting but have been unable to sustain what I used to do 25 years prior to cancer. I worked so hard to overcome the physical disabilities but the cognitive deficits caused by chemotherapy are yet another mountain to climb.

    I'm currently enrolled in a pilot study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA.

    WA.http://depts.washington.edu/wellness/

    I'm so grateful for your book with Dr. Silverman!

    Thank you,

    Diane

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  8. Hi Diane,

    It sounds like it's difficult for you to read books right now in general, but stick with it if you can as ours is one of the easiest books out there to read. The information you'll learn will be worth the effort.

    I would appreciate hearing more about your experience in the pilot program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Does it seem to be helping you? I think others would like to know as well.

    Wishing you all the best.

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  9. I can deal with the nassua ,fatige,weekness,stiff joints & muscles, ect... but what is left after all is done,is your foggie brain for life. It makes it difficult to work & have a normal conversation.I really wish the doctores would acknowledge it & there was something I can do to bring my mind back.

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  10. Hi, Is there such a thing as extreme chemo brain? My friends 22 year old nephew has non hodgkins lymphoma and after his 2nd round of chemo he has complete memory loss. It is as if he has regressed to a child. The cancer was gone after the first round of chemo but they insisted he finish the protocol. Shortly after the 2nd round of chemo he was unable to use his arms or legs and unable to speak. He regained the use of his arms and legs and is able to speak but now has the memory loss ..

    Any info is appreciated. Thank you!

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  11. I'm not a doctor and I have no knowledge as to why your nephew lost and then regained the use of his voice and limbs. How frightening that experience must have been! That combined with the memory loss makes me think that he should be evaluated by a neuropsychologist (which I would suggest even without the physical symptoms).

    There could be more going on here than chemo-related cognitive impairment.

    It's kind of you to be looking out for your friend's nephew. Good luck to him!

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