Chemo’s Impact on the Mind: Drawing a Blank on the Dish I Wanted to Describe

Chemo’s Impact on the Mind: Drawing a Blank on the Dish I Wanted to Describe
A Lump in the Road column Every morning, I get up and write three pages. It’s a habit encouraged and made somewhat famous by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, and normally I enjoy it. But since my cancer diagnosis, my morning writing has hit a speed bump. Lots of my ramblings focus on food. No surprise there – I love food. Growing it, shopping for it, cooking it, eating it. Really, I don’t even mind cleaning up after it. So in my morning pages, I often find myself musing about a dish I prepared the previous night, and celebrating little successes or chastising myself for fails. This morning I wrote about a tomato sauce I made from the produce of my desert garden where orange, yellow, black and red fruit weighs down the vines I’ve tied to the tallest stakes I can find. Last night, I could tell I had a hit on my hands because my family lapped up extra sauce with their spoons – a sweet victory for any cook. In my journal, I wrote about melting the tomatoes together, adding anise seeds, thyme from my herb patch, and a splash of vodka. Then I wanted to elaborate on the rest of my dish. That’s when I hit my speed bump, a problem I blame on chemo. I couldn’t remember the right word. When I write, I try not to interrupt my train of thought by looking up facts I can verify later. So I kept writing even though the elusiveness of that word was driving me crazy. “What is it I’m looking for?” I wrote, letting my frustration leak onto the page. Sometimes wh
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2 comments

  1. Barbara says:

    I can completely relate to this. I have undergone chemo 3 times in the last 6 years and am still on chemo. I sometimes worry that I have dementia as well as chemo brain. I take cold comfort in the fact that my cancer (metastatic Breast cancer in lungs and liver) will get me before I go completely mad!

  2. Barbara says:

    I can sooo relate to this! Been through chemo 3 times in 6 years (and still on my 3rd round of chemo) and it seems to be getting worse. I really do worry sometimes that I am developing dementia! I take cold comfort in the fact that my cancer (Stage 4 breast cancer in lungs and liver) will no doubt finish me off before I go completely mad!

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