Monday, 7 September 2009

The mental journey

I’m not sleeping at the best of times at the moment but at some point in the middle of the night I remembered something my oncologist had told me about my mantle cell lymphoma. It was that changes had occurred to my chromosomes. I looked this up on the internet and found that about 85% of mantle cell lymphoma patients had translocation of chromosomes 11 and 14. This might be one of the reasons why I can’t match my DNA with possible half siblings on UKDonor Link. I’m going to have to find out about this.

I am both amazed and horrified at my lack of knowledge about DNA but if I am honest, I have had a steep learning curve about a number of things over the past few months. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as ‘chemo brain”. When I first had chemo in 2007 I was very tentative about asking my oncologist whether the brain and memory were affected by the chemicals. However, he told me that a number of patients reported changes in their short term memory. With me it affected my recall of names and vocabulary which, when I was teaching, I found embarrassing. The chemicals have such an effect physically that I suppose it is not surprising to learn that there is a mental effect too.

Tomorrow I have my blood taken and tested to see if the proposed chemo can go ahead. As I have been having chemo now for 9 months, my blood count has fallen considerably and I am prone to infections. I shall be pleased if it can go ahead as planned because it brings me ever nearer to my goal which is to go into The Bubble to have the bone marrow transplant.

I am very lucky in that I have chemotherapy at home and it is invariably administered by the same nurse who has become a good friend to our family. He has the time answer my questions and give us extra information which is invaluable. As a family, we can do with all the help we can get at the moment and we really appreciate the practical things which people do and the messages we receive.

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