Take THAT Chemo Brain – LET’S GO, I PASSED!!!

I may have used another choice word or two when I texted my peeps to let them know I PASSED my Series 7 exam today – LET’S GO!!!  BTW, I may have also been a little too loud in the quiet testing room when my “passed” status came across the screen, imagine that.

Oh, you didn’t know I had to take this exam??  I’ve been quiet about it, and I’ll be honest about the fact that I didn’t pass on the first time….the first go around I missed it by ONE STUPID POINT!  No joke!  I was kinda of embarrassed, upset, pissed, disappointed in myself, you name it, I felt it.  Why??  Because a year ago, I more than likely wouldn’t have failed by one point…so I was mad about the reason I failed.  However, a year ago “me” isn’t an option, so I did what was needed and the first day I was allowed to take the test again, I scheduled it and PASSED!

This is the first real challenging thing I’ve had to do post-chemo when it comes to using my brain – lots of things are different and I haven’t fully adjusted to everything.  I’m still refining my coping skills when it comes to these things.  It’s a 6 hour exam and it takes me the full 6 hours to take it – I had to re-read most of the questions at least once, if not twice, and the long ones are a nightmare…I completely forget what they’re asking.  So for the past month, I’ve been taking tests, taking notes on the ones I miss and doing whatever I thought might help to recall the information.  And let’s go back to the 6 hours – that right there is exhausting for me, like you wouldn’t believe – it’s a marathon in my world!

You see, chemo brain isn’t a made up thing, it’s real – for me, it’s names and word recognition – recalling formulas and how to do things isn’t easy, especially when it’s something I’ve never done in my 37 years.  The majority of people taking the test are able to write things down to help recall key items for the exam…for me, I tried and tried to get a cheat sheet that worked, but remembering what was on the cheat sheet was just as time consuming as studying, so I kinda ditched that route…it just wasn’t going to work. But I found what worked AND I PASSED!!!

For me, this was a HUGE WIN – if I could have, I’d have run around the room high-fiving and screaming a few phrases that aren’t the most appropriate. Instead, I said something a little more loudly than I should have, did a little fist pump and walked out of the room.  I was so excited I don’t think it finally hit me until I got on the interstate and then I started crying…because I did it, it was a victory for me against all of this that is this stupid thing called living life after cancer and chemo…it’s hard y’all, really hard and frustrating.

I share all of this so that you, reading this, going through similar struggles and battles, know that this can be done.  You can do the things that were once easy for you, that have now become extremely difficult. You can do hard things, it just takes longer than you’re used to – a significant amount of time hitting the books, a significant amount of time reading the questions, a significant time trying to determine what might work.  And then, you keep your fingers crossed that it isn’t a really bad short term memory day and you can retrieve the information (unfortunately I don’t get to pick and choose when it’s at its worst, although I have been able to determine what tends to trigger it).   And some of you reading this will never fully understand how hard taking this simple test really was, and that’s okay too – 6 months post-chemo!

Now…on to studying for the next one — I have 2 exams I need to pass, this was the hard one, next one shouldn’t be as difficult, fingers crossed!



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