Sunday, 6 July 2014

The NHS and Chemo Fog

It's one of those odd phenomena that things that are on your mind suddenly pop up everywhere even though you never noticed them before.

There are two Cancer related articles in the news this morning.

The first is the tragic story of a British woman who had pancreatic cancer that was missed by the NHS nineteen times.  Nineteen times!  I know this probably isn't a representative story - the poor old NHS is bashed every time a bad news story hits the press and no-one wants to hear about all the women who had their cancer picked up and successfully treated.  

Nevertheless, I cannot help thinking that I would have had a very different experience if all this had happened back home in London.  Everyone wants to share their Cancer stories with me these days so I  hear all about people back in the UK who had to push to get their diagnosis.  After that, it seems to be quite routine to have to wait several weeks to begin the tests to determine how bad it is.  That might not sound that bad.  It probably wouldn't have sounded too bad to me either before entering the agony of Not Knowing.  

If all goes to plan, I will have done all the tests and be ready to start treatment just five and half weeks after the very first visit to the doctor with a lump.  Keep in mind that my type of Cancer is difficult to diagnose and the doctor was pretty sure that there wasn't a problem but suggested a mammogram anyway.  Way to go, Belgium.  

The other article is about something called Chemo Fog.  First reported by women with breast cancer, this is a condition caused by chemotherapy that results in forgetfulness, difficulty remembering the right word and following the flow of conversation, trouble concentrating and feelings of confusion and mental fogginess.

There's a quote from a poor sixteen year old, struggling to finish her education, who says 'The memory problems were a bit of a shock.  I thought it was just hair loss and sickness I had to worry about."  

Me too.  At least I don't have any exams to take.  But I'm really worried because chemo brain will severely affect someone like me with a razor sharp mind.   It is yet another one of those life-changing, scary things know, what's the word again?  I mean, it's a real whatsitsname.   Where was I?  

Oh yes, time to go and make a cup of tea.

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