• Chemo brain

    Asked by Jalemans on Thursday, August 14, 2014

    Chemo brain

    Yesterday, I discussed some of my side affects with my onc. One was tremors in my hands as I am a bit nervous about this because I draw for a living (design). She didn't really know about this side effect, apparently uncommon. She thought it could be related to my thyroid & not directly to the chemo. Anyone else experiencing tremors?

    The other item we discussed was the..." I can't concentrate, I forget words, I lose my train of thought, & I have to write things down or I lose track..." Basically my brain isn't functioning correctly. I presumed I would go back to normal after chemo completes & I was shocked to learn that this my not be the case! My onc says they are just starting to study "chemo brain" & don't know a lot about it, but she has patients who have not regained everything & have to make accommodations in their lives - YIKES! This scares me a lot! Does anyone have additional info on chemo brain & how long it lasts?

    13 Answers from the Community

    13 answers
    • cam32505's Avatar

      I went back to work 3 weeks after my last chemo session. I am a computer programmer, so I need to know what I'm doing. I can't really compare my before/after brain, but I can still do my job. Sometimes I'm real nervous when I have appts 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. It might get better for you. You can try some brain exercises, puzzles, etc.

      about 5 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      https://www.whatnext.com/content/blog/posts/blame-it-on-the-chemo-brain-tips-and-tricks-for-coping Here is an article we posted on our blog page a year or so ago about chemo brain and it's problems. Take a look at some tips for coping with it there.

      about 5 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar

      It was at least 18 months after treatment that I regained most of my mental facilities. It occurred one day when my daughter was taking me to visit my mother. She pulled the car over and said "Do you realize that this is the first adult conversation we have had in a year and a half"
      I was 11 years older than you are now at the time I had chemo. Also I was very sick when I was diagnosed. Those two things might have helped to make my recovery from chemo brain longer.
      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.

      about 5 years ago
    • FreeBird's Avatar

      There are strange side effects to everything. My dad had a tremor that was worsened by certain medications like gabapentin. Maybe you could go through your meds list and take a look at side effects to bring up with the doctor.

      about 5 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      I don't know much about chemo brain except that I got it and it is very frustrating! I don't remember events (past or future), dates, words ... my short-term memory is bad but so is my long term memory. I have read that chemo brain may hang around for years :(

      about 5 years ago
    • azsuper's Avatar

      Hi Jalemans

      Here is a link from American cancer Society concerning chemo brain. It will help worry less.

      Hang in there. Stay strong.
      And smile

      about 5 years ago
    • azsuper's Avatar
    • djy's Avatar

      i found when i had side effects the common answers was deny, deny, deny. No one offered any solutions just that it wasn't because of chemo. Do you own research and then go to your family doctor for help

      about 5 years ago
    • Ivy's Avatar

      Chemo brain does affect people differently. 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. Some studies say it comes from the stress more than the chemo, but it hasn't been studied much. I couldn't concentrate enough to actually read a book for about 2 years. Pushing yourself intellectually is probably one thing that helps you to get all your functioning back. As a designed much of your work is intellectual but non-verbal. Do find an outlet for practicing the verbal, too. 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.

      about 5 years ago
    • HOBO's Avatar

      I could never get any of my doctors to admit the tremors were caused by the chemo. But I had them. I had them so bad I could hardly write or use silverware. Once chemo was stopped as I was only able to complete four of six treatments due to nerve damage. Unfortunately, between surgery and chemo I had a horrible gouty Arthritis attack and was on huge doses of prednisone. I am happy to report almost ten months post chemo I no longer have tremors. I finally did my own research and surprise tremors can be a side effects of chemo. Most folks don't have the kind of side effect issues I do. My body does not like lots of things including many foods. I still have chemo brain. My memory is shot and I struggle with finding words every day but I have now returned to work part time. I wish you well. Please concentrate on the fact this is all temporary. It too shall pass.


      about 5 years ago
    • Estherj's Avatar

      I also have chemo brain but my family and friends understand and when it happens I just say chemo brain again. My hands are getting better but they still give me shaky writing at times. It has been 7 months since my last chemo.

      about 5 years ago
    • rasmitty's Avatar

      I had tremors for several months, but they have mostly gone away. I get frustrated when people try to explain away symptoms and attribute them to "just aging." There are many things that are different about my mind and body, and I know they are results of chemo, stress, surgeries, and meds. I just seem to need to be able to talk about these differences once in awhile and just have someone affirm that these things are not all just aging! I don't know why it's so important to me, but it seems that I occasionally want validation that cancer has changed me.
      On a much more positive note, I would have to say that cancer has also given me many blessings. God has been with me step by step, and He has blessed me far beyond what I deserve. I try to live my life with gratitude, intention, and purpose. My perspective is so different from two years ago when this all began. I definitely enjoy the beauty and blessings of every day.
      I'm a full year out from chemo, and I can see improvements in many areas. Some things may just take time, and I may have to just live with other things…with LIVE being the key word!

      about 5 years ago
    • Lauraandmary's Avatar

      I think chemo brain is much more common than the medical community communicates to patients. I believe they should counsel people STRONGLY before treatment begins (for example, my mom forgot passwords to bank accounts, email accounts, etc. and is incapable of handling many aspects of daily life anymore). Unfortunately, we had a hard time getting help on the other end. When we identified memory issues, our former oncologist stated (and I quote) "well, you're of the age to be senile". Yikes! It would be nice if Post-treatment evaluations are performed, the problem is accurately identified and strategies/coping mechanisms are clearly reviewed. Cancer rehabilitation would be good. Why go through all this only to live a shell of a life?

      about 5 years ago

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