Saturday 25 July 2020

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind

Finished July 19
The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery by Barbara K. Lipska with Elaine McArdle

This memoir is a fascinating look at one experience with aggressive brain cancer that beat the odds. Lipska is the director of the Human Brain Collection Core at the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States, and spent her career studying mental illness from a neuroscience perspective. She had already survived breast cancer and melanoma, when her melanoma returned, this time in her brain. The symptoms she exhibited as she went through diagnosis and treatment were similar to those of people with dementia and schizophrenia.
Due to her career, connections, and family, she was able to call on experts and become aware of new treatments early in the process. Her husband Mirek is a computer engineer. Her daughter Kasia is an endocrinologist at the Yale School of Medicine. Her son Witek is a neuroscientist in the Brain Modulation Lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Her sister Maria is a physicist and chief of therapy in the radiation oncolology department at Brighton and Women's Hospital in Boston. The symptom that led to the discovery of her tumours was a loss of vision in one part of her visual field. She knew to get to a doctor and received an MRI the next day, which showed the tumours. Her entire family started doing the research of treatments, and she was able to get accepted into a experimental treatment program that included immunotherapy.
She was able to recover memories from her worst times with the tumours after she recovered and put those together with the observations of her family to create this book, detailing her own viewpoint as well as what others saw, giving a unique insight into the entire experience.
Some of the experiences were extremely frightening to read, including the independence she was still insistent on when she was highly impaired.
A fascinating read.

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