Sunday, July 10, 2005
Thanks for the Memories

This is your brain. This is your brain on chemo. Any questions?


I have noticed that I struggle with my short-term memory just a bit and I have noticed this especially since I was midway through chemo last fall. It could be associated with a mild case of chemo brain; however, there are a number of reasons for the memory issues such as fatigue, poor sleep patterns, stress, estrogen suppression, chemo-induced menopause, etc. And while I feel fabulous, energetic, and generally healthy, the poor sleep patterns persist, I still find myself in stressful situations, and my hormone levels have not returned to pre-treatment levels. As you would expect, the things I’d like to forget are permanently etched in my mind. The things I struggle to remember drive me crazy.

On a typical work day I first have difficulty figuring out what to wear because I can’t remember what I wore last week. Granted, it is not the end of the world, but if I don’t’ have my fashion sense, what do I have? What. do. I. have?

My favorite moment is when I get up from my desk to make the short jaunt to the neighboring office to ask my boss something very important and stand in front of him and forget why I am there. I will look at him, pause, smile, and say, “Be back when I remember.” I’m so lucky that he doesn’t think I am a dork for doing this. He, unfortunately, thinks I am a dork for a whole host of other reasons.

It is also fun to pick up the phone with urgency to call a friend and forget why I called. It eventually comes back to me, so I use the opportunity to catch up until I remember why I called. Of course when I remember why I called, I don’t want to forget again so I concentrate on remembering and ignore what is being said at the moment waiting for a pause. I am the best friend ever. After reading this you are clearly trying to figure out how to become my friend, right?

Of course, once one becomes cognizant of a memory problem, one begins to doubt everything memory related. Did I turn off the iron before I left? Did I take the trash out? Did I have an appointment? I have this funny feeling I am supposed to be somewhere right now. Did he say to meet him there or was he going to pick me up? Did I put my deodorant on? It makes for hours of endless fun trying to remember (or trying to find a concealable way to check my armpits).

I went to church this morning with my family. As I was listening to the priest, tears welled up in my eyes as I was having one of those “God Moments.” I remember thinking, “This is why I am here. I needed to hear this today.” For the life of me, I can no longer remember even remotely the life changing message I received today. Since I cannot remember this moment of epiphany, I guess I still go about my regular sinful life until I can actually remember the message and how I am supposed to change my life.

Ah yes. I have forgotten something else. Apparently age plays a factor as well. Hmmmm. I keep forgetting that I keep aging!
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
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Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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    "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12