Chemo Brain

This is a real thing.  I’ve read several times that doctors are not convinced that it exists and that it is hard to test.  Nearly everyone I’ve talked to who has undergone chemo experiences various cognitive affects.  It is hard to quantify at times, but it is a real thing.

A rather humorous example that happened to me not too long ago …

I arrived early to a doctor’s appointment and sat in the car for a bit beforehand since the AC inside the office is always set awfully low.  When I got out of the car and pressed the button to lock the doors, I thought it was odd that the horn didn’t beep.  I unlocked and re-locked the car, checking each time that the door locked or unlocked as expected.  When it appeared to work, I went inside. After my appointment, I walked out to my car and realized that it was still running.  Since my car has keyless entry, I was able to take my key inside my appointment, leaving my car running the entire time.

So, glad to know that my car wasn’t stolen, but this was a good example of how chemo affects your reasoning ability.  Any time under stress or a situation that causes heightened awareness, lowers my ability to think clearly or well.

Chemo brain is a real thing and it can have such far reaching effects in the long run.  My best solution has been to slow down, to take notes more often, and to give everyone around me the freedom to remind me repeatedly.  I forget a lot and have to rely on those around me to keep me on my toes.

3 thoughts on “Chemo Brain

  1. Oh I think anyone in the oncology profession realizes the true meaning of chemo brain when we completely forget appointments. I’m constantly battling the clock, forgetting about time’s hands sweeping faster than I can, across many moments of forgetten yet good intentions. And how in the face of owning up to the reality of only discovering the brain has indeed a lymphatic drainage system in 2015 can a profession deny the existence of something right in their face, day in day out. I don’t know if you see a palliative oncologist but if your team has one available to you and you’re not already seeing her, you might investigate. I’m seeing mine in about 3.5 hours. That’s after a sleepless night and sitting in a post Taxol hot bath of apple cider vinegar, baking soda, and magnesium salts. I found the recipe to make sense although I’m not one for “remedy” medicine. But I’ll be darned if it doesn’t work to pull the toxins transdermally out and let me relax until the next med time. I hope you will enjoy my blog as much as I’m enjoying reading your irreverence and seriousness, too.
    Peace out,
    Ilene
    Metastatic breast cancer de novo HR+ going on my four year cancerversary

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought I had chemo brain. I kept making mistakes at work and home, going to appointments that weren’t scheduled, feeling total exhaustion. When I was forced to take a medical leave, my oncologist finally told me I needed an MRI because 18 months after I finished treatment I wasn’t showing any improvement. There was a 4 cm mass on the right side of my brain. Not in my brain (thank God), but sitting on it. Emergency surgery came quickly and so did all the cognitive and physical abilities that I’d been missing. One doc asked “how could you even walk across the room?” I would be dead now if they had not done that MRI. I asked ALL my docs if they believe in chemo brain and their answer was telling: most women feel like crap after their treatment ends. So docs acknowledge that my calling it ‘chemo brain.’ Do, yeah, it might exist, but check everything out to be sure it isn’t something else causing you malaise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right, Linda!! I’ve had more than 5 brain MRIs because of my migraines and these other symptoms that turned out to be chemo brain. Definitely need to be aware of what is going on and be an advocate to get your symptoms addressed. So glad you found the mass.

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