I made a birthday cake this weekend and I’m chuffed. Because although it’s something I’ve been doing for years, these days completing such a task it’s quite the feat.
Pre cancer, the task of deciding what to cook, shopping for the ingredients, following the recipe, and being able to read my oven and decide how to decorate it would just happen in a “click-of-the-fingers” kind of fashion.
Post chemotherapy, not so much.
So WTF has happened to my brain?
According to a study published in the journal Clinical Neurophysiology and summarised here, when some individuals undergo chemotherapy, they notice changes in their memory, concentration and the way they think. Scientists had previously found evidence of Chemo Brain by looking at scans of the brain. In this recent study, researchers have finally been able to demonstrate that “CB” is in fact GENUINE and not “Complete Bullshit”. Through a series of EEG tests that detects electrical activity in the brain, they monitored the brain activity of breast cancer patients while they completed a series of tasks. They discovered that the breast cancer survivors were “less likely to maintain sustained attention” compared to healthy individuals—this was true even up to three years after treatment.
It’s another example of how the effects of cancer treatment persist long after it’s over and these effects can really impact a person’s life.
God help you if you suffered from a big dose of baby brain and then had the misfortune of chemo brain as well!
So dear friends and family. It’s not that I am hard of hearing or not listening when you tell me something. It’s not that I am sleep deprived. It’s not that I am drunk. It’s not that I am not organised. It is through having had an intense course of chemo, that my brain tends to “chronically wander” rather than engaging when it should. This explains why post treatment, unless I write things down and keep tasks as simple as possible I get into trouble.
Take for example this cake I baked. I wrote three versions of the same list and went to the shops. I left the lists at home. Without a shopping list I am completely lost. But even with a list of just a few items, I have forgotten the layout of the supermarket so I have to go up and down every aisle in case I miss something. The process of shopping takes twice as long as it used to. All those bright lights and signs at the supermarket. Too many decisions and distractions.
When I’m just about to complete the “list”, the friendly green grocer says something that reminds me that I have left some oranges simmering in a deep pot on the stove at home.
THE STOVE IS ON! SHIT!!! THE STOVE IS ON!!!!
So I hastily make my way home to see if my house is still intact. Pleased with myself that the fire brigade hasn’t visited my street this morning, I commence the process of making a Chemo Brain Cake which involves reading every sentence of the recipe a thousand times. Just one simple step looks a bit like this…
<Get’s out all ingredients so that they are ready to go>
Mix eggs and sugar until well combined.
How many eggs? Six eggs. Oh yeah. <Put’s eggs into bowl>
Okay, what am I mixing with the eggs?
How much sugar. Oh yeah 250grams of sugar?
Did I put the oven on already?
Yes the oven is on.
Right what am I doing?
Righto. Eggs, and what?
Okay eggs and sugar beaten together.
Okay now what?
This goes on and on until I slowly edge my way through. But get there I somehow do.
Thanks to my awesome friends for their recipe suggestion advice and help with this cake. I finally got there in the end, my house did not burn down, my kids were not left at the supermarket and the cake was thoroughly enjoyed at a special family occasion.
And for the record, my friend said…”OMG, that was the very BEST cake I’ve ever eaten!”
Chuffed. I. am.
The cake recipe can be found at http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/orange-and-almond-cake?cid=trending.