After finally completing extensive chemotherapy treatment and enduring the many complications as a result of that treatment, I found that I was physically and mentally exhausted. I wasn’t too surprised at that. After all, I went through a lot in my battle with cancer. One of my hospital stays lasted 32 consecutive days during which I lost 60 lbs. I
I was more concerned with my mental deterioration than with my physical exhaustion. For almost two years after my treatment my mind was constantly in a fog I had great difficulty concentrating, focusing and remembering things. I honestly thought I had Alzheimer’s disease. I jokingly used to say, “I have chemobrain”. I don’t know where I picked up that term but I thought it was a non-medical vernacular term.
Some time later, I discovered it is a real medical condition. A recent UCLA study shows that chemotherapy causes changes to the brain’s metabolism and blood flow that can linger at least 10 years after treatment. According to that study, chemotherapy patients experience disrupted thought processes and confusion.
Hospitals and cancer organizations are unanimous in recognizing chemobrain as a very real medical condition. Recently oncologist Dr Patricia Ganz received a grant from the National Cancer Institute to conduct a five year study on chemo brain.
Researchers from New York’s University of Rochester found several types of key brain cells were highly vulnerable to the drugs used in chemotherapy. According to Dr Mark Noble of the University of Rochester, “This is the first study that puts chemo brain on a sound scientific footing.”
From the Science Daily, “Cancer survivors, take note. The mental fog and forgetfulness of “chemo brain” are no figment of your imagination.”
Now that we recognize that chemobrain is very real medical condition, what can we do about it? Here are some suggestions:
Use a daily planner
Exercise your brain. Read, get a hobby, do volunteer work Take some courses.,
Get sufficient rest and sleep.
Don’t dwell on your chemobrain symptoms.
Be absolutely certain that you are getting a sufficient amount of oxygen.
Talk about it to family, friends, and your healthcare team about your chemobrain symptoms..
Remember, you are not dim-witted or nuts; you have a real side-effect to chemotherapy.
Researchers are also looking at different medications as possible treatments for chemobrain.
Personally, I’m not waiting for them to come up with a medicine to treat the side effects of another medicine. From my research and personal experience in overcoming chemobrain, I discovered the following things are working for me:
Living my life based on spiritual principles.
Getting out of myself and helping others
Exercise. Its a known fact that exercise can improve you mood, increase your energy and help your concentration.
A healthy diet. (I’m still working on that)