As you sit in a doctor's office listening to all the possible side effects, there is something important you should never forget; they NEVER tell you everything.
I don't care how friendly and open your doctor is, how long you have known him/her, there are somethings that they don't say. There are varying reasons behind this common practice of withholding, but the most prevalent is the notion that the unspoken information is 'UNIMPORTANT'.
As a patient this attitude upsets you, offends you, degrades your challenges and quite frankly pisses you off. There is nothing like hearing your trusted physician dismissing some of your concerns about upcoming treatment or brushing aside certain challenges that have arisen. I tell you, if it wasn't for the blood of Jesus...
Six years into this 'thing' and I have come to realize, for most physicians, if it doesn't affect your body or if there is a pill to 'fix' it, they are not moved to divulge the possibilities of certain challenges. Some of them defend their actions by saying 'we are trying to get you over one hurdle at a time' but my response to that is 'if I don't know another hurdle is there, I'll run straight into it or jump at the last minute, trip and land flat on my face'. GIVE ME THE FACTS.
So... there I was, treatment is finished and I am now 'cancer-free' but something doesn't feel right.
Six months later and still, something is a little off. Six years later and STILL somethings are not quite right. Chemo therapy leaves a LASTING impression. It is a poison that affects every aspect of your body, including your brain. Now, I am not dissuading the use of the treatment, it serves a very important purpose BUT there are some side effects that some people have for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. I think that is a fact you should be made aware of.
The reason I think you should know, is sometimes our ignorance of certain facts causes us to believe we are the only ones with certain challenges, which causes us to feel a deep sense of loneliness as we continue in our day to day struggles. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Chemo brain and depression are two of the subjects we do not speak of often, especially depression. Let me repeat something I said earlier, CHEMOTHERAPY AFFECTS YOUR BRAIN. That's why you have hair loss etc. However, the physical manifestations of its affect on your brain are not the only challenges it causes. Chemo brain is the term used for the tendency towards forgetfulness after being through your chemo treatment.
I realised after treatment that my short term memory went out the window. I would start to do something and forget what I was doing in the middle of executing the task. I would go to make a call, reach for the phone and forget who I was about to call. People would try to comfort me with 'that happens to everybody at some point in time' but it didn't work. You see my 'some point in time' was everyday. I repeat EVERYDAY. At age 24 I felt like I was losing my mind, these examples are just tips of the iceberg. I would become so frustrated, how could I forget what I was doing while I was doing it? On what planet does that nonsense happen?
I had yet to hear of and research chemo brain. As I said, we know chemotherapy affects our brains but we are not told the extent this 'affect' reaches. To have been warned that it would happen could have saved me a lot of psychological pain and frustration. I would have known that I had to prepare task list, that I had to develop routines in order to remember to do basic things and so on. I would also, have known that it passes with time. As time passes its severity slowly diminishes, some people say it is never truly gone but for me I am not feeling its effects anymore.
To my fellow survivors, it passes or at least gets better with time. Until then, make lists and develop daily routines, where you do the same things in the same order everyday. The development of such routines causes you to perform certain tasks 'automatically'.
To any doctors reading this; give your patients the facts, ALL of them. You like to prepare us for things such as the loss of hair but let me explain something to you, when compared to the thought or possibility that you are losing your mind, a bald head is inconsequential. To a patient NOTHING is unimportant, if you don't have the time or the facts at your disposal, direct him or her to somewhere they can gather these facts, we like to be prepared. Correction, we NEED to be prepared, being blindsided is worse than the anxiety you believe these details will cause.