Foggy With a Chance of Short-Term Memory Loss
By: Brandy (Korman) Haslam
What is chemo-brain?
Trouble concentrating? Forget things or have trouble remembering conversations? Have something to say, but just can't get the words out of your mouth? Did someone say, chemo-brain?
Many of you who have gone through chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment can relate to this mental fogginess now known as 'chemo-brain.'
Chemo-brain for years was thought to be a result of sleeplessness, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Researchers now say this mental fogginess may be caused by chemo treatment and can sometimes last long after treatment has ended.
"I knew what I wanted to say," says breast cancer survivor Linda Thompson, "but I could not get the words to come out of my mouth."
Doctors say that Thompsons symptoms are relatively common and can begin soon after chemotherapy treatment begins.
"I constantly felt like I was in a fog. I would forget things a lot and would even forget what day it was sometimes," said Thompson. "Once I finished chemo it was like a light in my brain switched back on."
Fortunately for most women, the effects on the brain happen quickly and don't last long. They can however, be irritating especially if you are someone who is always on top of your game!
Some common symptoms to watch out for include:
- Forgetting things that you normally have no trouble recalling (memory lapses)
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble multi-tasking
- Forgetting details like names and dates
- Trouble remembering words or being unable to complete sentences
- Difficulty with new learning
There are things you can do to help manage chemo-brain:
- Write things down - use sticky notes or keep a planner
- Be sure to get plenty of rest and eat healthy
- Exercise, even if only a few minutes a day
- Minimize distractions
- Practice stress-relief techniques
- Exercise your brain - try memory and thinking exercises
Remember, memory problems happen to everyone. Talk with other survivors to find out what has been helpful for them. If you're someone who has been through the fog of chemo-brain, share your experiences below so that other women may benefit.
To talk with a PRMA advocate, call 800-692-5565