7 Tips on Coping With Chemo Brain

by Brittany McNabb

There are always questions on the site about that annoying thing we like to call "chemo brain." Here are a few more tips on what you can try if you are experiencing chemo brain, memory fog, or other mind-related side effects from chemotherapy or other cancer treatment. 

Tips On Coping With Chemo Brain

1. Make lists and reminders.

Something as simple as writing things down can help with forgetfulness. Many people keep lists or post-its in their planner and around their house so they have something to refer back to when they forget things.

Sticky Noteson Brain Ss 196322339

"I have found myself more forgetful after chemo. It helps to make lists when going shopping also often write down what I want to accomplish during the day. It helps to exercise and challenge my brain with puzzles,or sudoku too." - Lynne-I-Am

2. Explain your chemo brain and that you are working on it. 

If your family, friends, or coworkers are confused about your failure to remember things, jumbled words, or other effects of chemo brain, simply tell them what is going on. People seem to be a lot more understanding when they are included in what is happening. If you don't feel comfortable sharing, just ask them to bear with you as you go through and recover from cancer treatment.

"Sometimes I'm real nervous when I have appointments coming up, but I just have to ask my coworkers for help during that time. They seem to understand that it's not all the time." - cam32505

3. Repeat things to yourself throughout the day if you are performing a task or going from room to room.

It may seem elementary, but some WhatNexter’s say they must simply say what they are doing over and over again in their head or else they forget what they are doing.

Older Wmn Thinking Hard Ss 181673738

“I have found that it helps to repeat what I'm doing in my head over and over again until I complete a task, like "glass of water, glass of water, glass of water" so that when I get to the kitchen for the glass of water I don't stand there for 5 minutes wondering why I'm in the kitchen.” -Bashiemn

4. Join a class, study, or book club.

Joining some kind of intellectual group club could keep your mind stimulated as well as force you to have intellectual conversations and keep your brain moving on new topics.

"The one thing that really helped me was Bible Study at my church. But I think any group intellectual pursuit would get the same results. Our local library has a number of discussion groups for all types of interests." - BosieB

5. Keep your medications organized.

Medication is something you don't want to mess up. Organize your meds ahead of time. You can use plastic baggies or days of the week pill boxes. Ask for help from your caregiver if you forget to take them or get them mixed up.

“I keep my meds in a week long pill box to keep them sorted out on whether I remembered to take them on any given day. It even helps me to figure out what day of the week it is by leaving the "used" slots opened until time to fill it.” -moonmaiden

6. Laugh it off.

Some WhatNexters say "Blame it on the chemo brain!" As with many things with cancer that are very serious, sometimes it help to keep your sense of humor about you.

"Now I just love to laugh and say "sorry, it's chemo brain" and nobody holds it against me. It was easier to roll with it when I decided that I couldn't fix it and that it may be temporary so my stress was so much better when I switched from being upset to accepting it and moving forward. I know that is easier said than done but it worked for me." - Izzie44

7. Have hope that it will get better.

The manifestation of chemo brain is different in all patients. There is no timeline to how long it will last, however some WhatNexters say that as time goes on they notice that they get better. Keep hope that you will too and continue to do things that might help.

Caregiver Patient Relationship

"It took over a year before I noticed that the symptoms were fewer and farther between. Forgetting words in the middle of a sentence and errors in reading were among the effects I had. I would read a headline on the computer and know immediately that I had read it wrong because it absolutely made no sense. None of us want to appear to have lost our faculties when the damage is actually temporary. I'm definitely back, and I hope you will be too, although it probably will take longer than you anticipated." - Ivy

Blog Home