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Is She Crazy, or is it Chemo Brain?

Posted Jan 29 2010 7:28pm

©Survivorship Media Network, LLC.  All rights reserved.

If the old adage “a picture’s worth a thousand words” is true, I have several photos that are worthy of a book.  One of my favorite photos my friend Linda took of me the day after my last chemotherapy. There I am in all my chemo splendor, bald and glassy-eyed with 25 heart-shaped red foil balloons stuffed down the back of matching red foil pants.  If that isn’t strange enough I am naked from the waist up except for a giant pair of red silk lips duct taped to my mastectomy scar.  Plus I am wearing silver lamé tennis shoes with orange stripes.  If you think the photo is odd you should see the attached ‘Thank You’ card I made to go with it.  It's at least worth a referral to a good shrink.

On the front of each card I stamped red balloons then used a heat gun to emboss them with red glitter and wrote “Bubbles was the daughter of a famous circus clown.  But Bubbles didn’t want to join the circus…” When you opened the card there was the photo of “Bubbles” in her best chemo cheerleader pose, and at the bottom it said “Bubbles didn’t want to join the circus.  She wanted to be a Las Vegas showgirl!”


At the time I thought the card was the highlight of my creative endeavors.  Now I wonder what my friend Linda must have thought when I opened the door dressed as Bubbles.  She must have stifled the urge to scream, run down the driveway and holler for help.  If she thought I’d lost my mind, she didn’t let on a thing, acting as if this was a commonplace occurrence when you knocked on a sick friend’s door.  To make matters worse, I tried to explain…  But where does one start, especially when you have had eight rounds of chemotherapy under your belt--or lips?


As “Bubbles” babbled on, Linda may have pieced together balloons, an end of chemo party the night before, shoes bought under the influence of chemo brain and "they’ll look great with the right outfit.” 


I have the most wonderful friends.  When faced with a crazy lady, they smiled and took me in stride, ignoring that I paid $500 for shoes that are so not me.  (If you assume that’s true you must be wondering how I just happened to have those red foil pants. Another story.)  My friends did not look at me askance when I found “the right outfit,” but instead, lovingly supported and cheered me on.  Chemo brain is frightening, annoying and funny, all at the same time, and not just for those of us who have it, but for everyone who loves us.

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