• Next month will be my one year anniversary for end of treatment, Chemo & Radiation. Surgery one month prior. Non-small cell, stage 3.

    Asked by Lillylung on Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Next month will be my one year anniversary for end of treatment, Chemo & Radiation. Surgery one month prior. Non-small cell, stage 3.

    At first Chemo-brain seemed funny and I would joke about my forgetfulness. Now I'm very angry about the whole thing and want to be my old self again. Is there actually something called Chemo-brain. What can I do to help with the short term memory, or lack thereof.

    9 Answers from the Community

    9 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Most definitely there is and it is real and tangible. Chemo is a systemic treatment that kills cells. Not just cancer cells but healthy cells as well including brain cells.

      If you aren't already, become a list maker. Write down everything you need to remember. Stuff you need to do, appointments, etc. I even write myself a note when I am doing laundry so I won't forget to put it in the dryer for 2 days. I've even had to make myself a tickler file with when each monthly bill is due. I did that after the second time I ended up paying a late fee because I just forgot I hadn't paid it. And of course, always keep your lists in the same place. Doesn't do any good to make a list if you don't remember where you put the list.

      over 8 years ago
    • JMS's Avatar

      I too have suffered from "chemobrain". Very quickly, I learned to take someone with me to the doctor and jot down what he/she said. I also wrote out my questions in advance, and kept a notepad handy to write down appointments or other things I needed to do. This did help (except if I forgot where I'd placed the notepad - so put it somewhere prominent and noticeable!). Hope your chemobrain improves, but I suspect it will be a gradual process.

      over 8 years ago
    • Ivy's Avatar
      Ivy (Best Answer!)

      The ideas already posted are excellent, but I'd like to add a little more. After working in business for many years, I learned to depend on my computer calendar and address book. I make an "appointment" for every major "to-do" that needs to happen on a certain date or schedule. If there's a doctor appointment on Wednesday, I put the appointment with the time for that day. Then to drill it into my head, when making the original appointment on the calendar, I make reminders for the night before, two days before, and two hours before. This makes it almost impossible for the event to be overlooked. So the reminders come up automatically on my computer and on my smart phone. This process can work for almost anything except most household chores. There are even apps for shopping lists--those that you check-off or those that you "write down" on the smart phone.

      Every doctor and location that I visit is given an individual address in my contacts file. So the name, street location, phone numbers, etc., are always with me. This helps immensely, especially with those that you don't visit often. Memorial Sloan-Kettering has so many different locations, and one goes to different locations for different purposes. All are in my contacts file, so when in the car headed into NYC, we just look it up as a reminder of where we're driving. Setting up a system like this takes some time, but it pays off handsomely.

      I even use this system to remind me when it is time to call a doctor's office and make an appointment. When the dermatologist tells you to come back next year but doesn't send out reminders, just put in an "appointment" about a month before that date that says "call Dr. Cooper." That shorthand tells me it's time to make a new appointment with that doctor.

      My husband tries to avoid doctors and especially doesn't want to keep up with when he should get himself to a doctor's office, so I use the same system for him. To distinguish which of us is involved, I just add our initials to the appointment name, as in "Dentist--HA." However, my husband likes to be in charge of paying most of the bills, so he has a set-up similar to this as a reminder when the mortgage is due, and so on.

      If you're interested in trying this, it's not necessary to make it a big deal--just get started. Eventually everything will be collected and accessible, and it will make your life so much easier.

      over 8 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar

      I was just about to post this same question. Only, I was going to ask if chemo-therapy brought on early Alzheimer's disease. Friday I was having a conversation and I came to a point in that conversation and I coould not remember a word that I had used frequently in my profession. This terrified me. It has been two years since my last treatment. During my first year I was entirely dependent on my daughter, she still has "Power of Attorney" However when I look back there were two things that have helped me. The first was computer games. I had "Civilization III" but you can find one that interests you. The second thing was I joined a Bible Study group. Memorization of Bible verses is encouraged. For those who are not interested in religion there are similar groups of other interests (Book clubs, Card Playing groups, Political Action Groups anything that requires an active mind) Thank you Lillylung for asking this question I hope my two cents helped.

      over 8 years ago
    • Crash's Avatar

      Yes! Chemo brain is real. I only know about me, my memory stinks, but I was also knocked unconscious, which may have also contributed. And I'm 58 now, word retrieval stinks, but I work around it. Name retrieval is much more difficult.
      Forget about getting your old self back. We're aging, we can't be teenagers again. Aging does give us perspective. As I gain age I see from a higher vantage point. I'm less bothered with things. I hope you feel that way soon. Your anger only hurts you. I've carried anger for a long time and now I'm looking for a job again. Could there be a cause/effect relationship?
      I'm making a conscious effort to be nice.
      Best wishes.

      over 8 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar

      You need to nourish and accept yourself as you are. If the docs told us half the things which could be expected as after effects, a good many of us would (would have sought) seek other treatments and different answers to our problems. I often feel as though I was had.

      Anger is but one stage of grief (over the loss of your health). There are empty spaces in my brain where there used to be cabinets of information. At first I thought the cabinets were simply locked when I reached for a familiar word or concept and could not touch it but, in many cases, there is simply a void when learned information used to be. I don't understand things as well or as quickly as I once was able.

      I can't keep lists from getting lost. I put things down in the very same place and some gremlim moves them. Sometimes, a thing I am holding will simply disappear from my hand. I have begun to learn to better relax (most times) until the item or concept reappears. I sigh at the waste of time in duplicating motions and items and re explaining myself.

      Just do the best you can and seek help where and when it is needed. It will get better with time but there may or may not be 100% recovery. There has not been for me although I do think more clearly now then when I was first recovering. I eat whole foods, use whole turmeric, and do what extra things I can to try to make myself more well.

      I'm very sorry for each and all of our losses.

      over 8 years ago
    • mgm48's Avatar

      I've found that exercise helps - do puzzles and brain teasers. They help exercise your brain and you'd be amazed at how the exercise helps.

      Keep it positive and smile :)

      over 8 years ago
    • rsheridan's Avatar

      Yes, there is chemo brain....it's more like being in a fog...everything is in slow motion for a couple of days after treatment. It eventually goes away...Just roll with it....

      over 8 years ago
    • LisaLathrop's Avatar

      A product called ViSalus (maybe you know it as Body by Vi) was a godsend to me! I began it as a weight loss meal-replacement shake to lose the 55 lbs I had gained during cancer treatment and my BMT. However, the added benefits were amazing! Within 2 weeks, my chemo brain was extremely improved...as well as my energy level. I pair this with daily brain games (Luminosity.com or my Nintendo DS games or Soduko) and before you know it, I was almost totally back to my old self. I am still on ViSalus....almost 1 year later and have become a distributor, not to earn a BMW, but for the health & wellness total nutritional aspects of the shakes. To check it out, go to my website: http://lisalathrop.bodybyvi.com/

      over 8 years ago

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