Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I beg to differ...

This morning as I was scanning my homepage for all that is newsworthy, I found this little tidbit waiting for me. As someone who has "been there, done that" , had the bad memory and (still have) the battle scars to prove it, I take exception to this.

There were two studies done. The first went a little something like this...

Here are 30 women just diagnosed with breast cancer and also 30 healthy women. Let's give them a "cognitive test." Now let's give them another after each and every round of chemo. In the results, "the breast cancer patients had slight problems in attention and learning skills before chemotherapy even started. After treatments, they showed a minor slowing in thinking speed. Three women, or 10 percent, did develop cognitive problems during chemotherapy."

Are they implying that women who get breast cancer are naturally slower than healthy women - or just shell shocked after diagnosis?

"We also found that the women who reported that they had problems with memory, concentration and other cognitive skills were not actually the ones who developed problems as determined by the tests."

Are they liars or whiners... or perhaps the other women were not bright enough to realize they were suffering conginitively?

The second study was a bit more in depth.

"The second study tested the cognitive abilities of three groups of women -- pre-treatment breast cancer patients, recent post-benign biopsy patients and breast cancer survivors who were one year past completed treatment. They were also evaluated for anxiety, depression, their overall quality of life and the amount of social support they had.

The recently diagnosed women and those who recently had benign biopsies scored about the same on tests of working memory and spatial learning. However, both groups were slower and less accurate than the breast cancer survivors. In addition, memory and learning scores for the breast cancer patients did not dip significantly during the initial stages of treatment, the study found.

The recently diagnosed women who had better overall quality of life also had better scores on the cognitive tests."

I don't mean to doubt the validity of their research, however, have any of them ever gone through chemo? What kind of cognitive test was given? Was it math and reading comprehension? Or was it a "real life" test with questions like "where are your car keys right now?" or "what is your son's first grade teacher's name?"

My favorite part of all, though, is how the article not only takes a very real side effect and makes it imaginary or stress related and then rests the blame squarely on the woman's doorstep by tying it to her quality of life. Chemo Brain? Hmmmm... perhaps you should have thought about that before you let your quality of life deteriorate...


Sarah S. said...

This makes me mad. I didn't have any problems with my memory until after I started chemo. It started right away. Now I never know where my keys are or what I did with my grocery list.
Toxic chemicals are pulsing through my veins. There are going to be side effects from that duh!

sarah said...

While I do believe there may be something to the idea that the stress of diagnosis could be an influence (all sorts of things went wonky for me at that time - i.e. I developed back problems that still bother me to this day any time I get stressed), it seems silly to think that the chemicals themselves wouldn't have an effect. Even more than 1 year after chemo I get surprised at the days when words just refuse to come to me and it's completely different than a "normal" person's occasional word block.

Cameron Ingalls said...

thanks for checking in... you have a great outlook on the trials of life that daily surround you. keep the faith and hope alive! you will inspire countless others.