Hives & Cognative Rehab

I know it’s been a very long time since I’ve written an update here, sorry. I’ve been so busy I’ve hardly had time to scratch myself. No, actually quite the opposite! I’ve been scratching all winter due to a series of skin rashes – now settled down, thankfully. I tried various different treatments and management and I don’t really know what was the true cause or what cured it. The overriding spreading itchiness probably could be called ‘hives’. By the time I saw the hospital dermatologist the itchiness had mostly gone and I showed her a new painful rash. She did a biopsy and pronounced ‘shingles’, but that too has now cleared up I’m pleased to say. The medical team says my rashes were quite unrelated to my treatment and definitely not a side effect of farletuzumab.

Otherwise I’m very fit and healthy and
still in Brisbane taking weekly intravenous farletuzumab.

Unfortunately, my last scans (a couple
of weeks’ ago) showed my 4 tumours had grown a little. It’s the first
time they haven’t reduced in size. However, this could possibly be a
sampling error, so I’ll wait to hear the result next time (in 2
months) before I get concerned.

As you know, I’m hopeful I’m on the
active trial drug (not placebo) and that it is helping my white blood
cells to keep the cancer at bay. From the outset the specialists have
explained that ovarian cancer is a chronic disease and realistically
their goal is only to maximise the time between recurrences. I will
admit I choose to forget this most of the time and I imagine myself
with a miracle cure. It is easy to be hopeful when I feel so happy
and well!

My other news is I’ve joined a research
trial of a mind rehabilitation program for adults recovering from
“chemo brain” after cancer. Many cancer patients notice a little
cognitive impairment after treatment, and studies have measured a
small decrease in brain processing speed, either as a side effect of
the medication or possibly due to stress, or both. This affects
attention and concentration as well as memory and problem-solving.

For myself, I haven’t really felt
troubled by any of these symptoms although I have definitely been
taking it easy, ie cut back on work requiring complicated
decision-making and processing. The only times I’ve felt worried have
been when I’ve got lost (geographically), but then I am in new
territory. It’s not like forgetting my way to somewhere familiar,
which would be a more serious symptom.

Anyway, it sounded like fun to
volunteer, and I was selected for the ‘intervention’ group receiving
4 workshop sessions. (The ‘control’ group gets no training.)

It has been really interesting and
inspiring. It was also valuable to share in the group sessions with
other people in similar circumstances. We learnt a bit about how
brains work, and were taught some ways for greater effectiveness. I
have realised I don’t always pay good attention (eg to geography)
when I have lots on my mind. I think my memory is fine when I
actually take in the information in the first place! I find it
helpful to be more aware of the interplay between emotions, fatigue,
attention and memory. We guinea pigs are still going for a couple
more follow-up assessments – if we remember the appointments and
can find our way! 🙂

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