Gotta keep on keepin' on.......

Cancer again...that's 3 times in 2 years. This time it’s not breast cancer, but a new one called squamous cell carcinoma. New cancer, same old fighting spirit! My blog is still named for one of many songs that kept me going the first time around. Driving home from an upsetting appointment, I turned on the radio just as this line from Steve Miller Band's Jet Airliner was playing: "I've got to keep on keepin' on" I did just that. And I'll do it again.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The absentminded professor

I had the best idea for a post the other day. It was brilliant! Scathingly brilliant! It really was. It had something to do with something Leah said while we were driving home from somewhere....or was it Emma....and were we driving? Or in the bathroom brushing teeth?

Oh, I don't remember. Wherever we were, I didn't have pen and paper to write it down. But it was brilliant. Scathingly, I swear.

Some people might think, poor Katie, she's got that awful "chemobrain", that fog that can affect people's cognitive skills for years after treatment ends. She's forgetful, distracted, takes forever to get to her point....chemobrain will do that to you.

But no, that's not what I have. I'm not saying that chemobrain doesn't exist. I have heard more than a few breast cancer survivors complain that they just can't find the right word anymore, they forget names, even just phase out in mid-sentence.

I'm sure chemobrain exists, a lovely parting gift from treatment. I just don't think that's what I suffer from. All those things I mentioned? Searching for words, forgetting names, zoning out? I've been doing that for years, and I'm no worse now than before I started treatment! Both John and I stumbled over the kids' names for so long, we eventually started referring to them as #1, #2, #3, and #4. I am always climbing the stairs to retrieve something, only to get to the top and wonder what I was supposed to get. And anyone who's ever had a conversation with me knows that I frequently go off on such long tangents that I often never get back to (let alone remember!) my original point.

I also have a long history of hiding things, mostly Christmas presents, and forgetting where I put them. It is awful. When I was home from college one summer, I hid these cute little nail polish remover pens I had purchased for my mother and sister, but forgot about them that Christmas....actually forgot about them for about 5 Christmases.....then found them in my closet when I was packing up my things to move south. By then they had dried out and were totally ungiftable! What a waste.

And poor Leah, last year she made the mistake of giving me two Christmas gifts (for me and for John) to hide for her. Christmas morning came, and Leah asked me where the presents were that she had made for us. I had absolutely no idea! I looked for weeks! Leah cried about it, I cried about about feeling like a horrible mother!

Unfortunately, I have always been a bit absentminded and distracted. It is hereditary. I am certain of it. My father, for as long as I can remember, has been an absentminded professor type. My brother always struck me as being a bit like this, too. We're not stupid people, just our thoughts are sometimes elsewhere.

Knowing I was naturally dippy, and thinking that perhaps treatment might tire me out (even before I heard about chemobrain), I was determined not to let my brain get all fuzzy from whatever was in store. So I made sure I kept my brain busy, doing the daily crossword puzzles and jumbles, writing letters, reading, playing Solitaire on the computer. The idea was to keep my mind sharp, like a friend of mine used to do with his grandmother: the whole family kept her playing cards and board games so she wouldn't get "dotty"! I thought that was a great idea.

Sometimes I even worked the crosswords during infusion, which was especially fun during the last 4 treatments when my head was spinning from the Benadryl.

So now, one full year after completing chemo, do I feel my brain has suffered? It's so hard to tell. I'm so busy, and the kids keep me going, that I'm still as distracted as ever. I can still multitask, although I do drop off mid-sentence a lot, but that is usually because #1, 2, 3 or 4 interrupts and/or demands my attention in some way. So I can't say that chemobrain has gotten me, at least not now. And that's great for me, because I don't like for the cancer to win.

And now, I submit this proof that absentmindedness is hereditary: The other day, Leah found the Christmas presents she had given me to hide last year. Apparently, Mommy didn't hide them and forget where she hid them! Leah did! She had stashed them in the pocket of her old bathrobe and forgot about it. Like mother, like daughter. Poor girl, she's got "mommybrain". ....Mommybrain, huh? That sounds like a great idea for a post! Excuse me while I go write this down, before it slips my mind again. You know how I get!


  • At 3/3/08, 9:54 AM, Blogger SweetAnnee said…

    I tried to tell hubby I had chemo brain the other
    day and he said

    If you hadn't been like this all along ..I might buy it...but you're no different than before chemo

    he's right.
    I've hidden presents and found them two years later also..
    what a sweet post.. I thank you for sharing...

  • At 3/3/08, 11:26 AM, Blogger Jenster said…

    It had something to do with something Leah said while we were driving home from somewhere....or was it Emma....and were we driving? Or in the bathroom brushing teeth?

    Oh, Katie!! You are cracking me up!!

    I love this post. I try to blame every cognitive misfire on chemobrain, but my family asks what was my deal before chemo. Suffice it to say I can really relate to this post! LOL

    Again, I'm so glad you're back. I missed you. :o)

  • At 3/4/08, 11:37 PM, Blogger Marsha said…

    Glad you are back from hiatus.

  • At 3/5/08, 9:02 AM, Blogger Sherry ~ Cherie ~ ms. herbes de provence said…

    As one who believes in chemo brain -- mostly during and shortly after treatment -- drugs, stress, being extremely busy, keeping so many things on the go -- I also believe that our "brain power" is hereditary (as you so comically discovered with Leah!). But I also credit lazyness (in my children -- they don't bother to try and remember) and modern technology (how many phone #s do you remember off by heart anymore when things are programmed into cell phones, etc.). And just the stress of every day many things to do, places to be, children's schedules to remember -- the brain can only retain so much!!

    You made me laugh this morning -- reading you is reading a "real" person with day to day happenings, told in a light way of "oh well, this is life, what are you gonna do??"

    Glad you are back!!!


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