I felt like writing today. It is something I was not sure I would be doing for awhile. Chemo brain takes a lot out of me and often makes me feel like a shell of who I once was. This week, it has gotten a little better.
If you don’t know what chemo brain is, I hope you never have to experience it. It is terrible brain fog that affects my ability in just about everything. It affects my communication skills. It affects me in ways that make me currently believe I could never go back to a traditional job.
Prior to going through several months of aggressive chemotherapy, I considered myself to be pretty sharp. I thought I was funny, and often witty. I had a way with words and could write things that I thought were meaningful and made a difference. I also knew APA like the back of my hand and enjoyed formatting all of my research papers to meet the guidelines. I could read research articles and remember them all and could easily incorporate their ideas with citations into my papers for what would have been my pre-proposal to begin my dissertation for my doctorate. I’ll probably never be able to finish my Ph.D now. That will forever break my heart, though I have found ways to accept it.
Losing my mind was the thing I was most concerned about. I was fine with losing my long hair. I accepted that my body would be cut into and parts of me may no longer look the same. I knew I would no longer be considered beautiful by many. I would be scarred in ways both physically and unimaginable.
It didn’t take long for chemo brain to take its hold. There were days I didn’t even remember my name. There were days I knew my name and forgot how to say it. That may have been chemo brain at its absolute worst. At the time, I fully believed that would be temporary. If you fast forward to today, almost seven months later after finishing chemo – I still have brain fog. Though admittedly, it has gotten better.
Reinventing myself after chemo was a necessity to move on as I grieve the person I was before cancer. I now use different techniques to keep myself on track and getting my work done. I am thankful to be able to work mostly from home so I can take breaks when I need them. I think every day gets a little better and I hope that some day my mind will work closer to what it once did.