For many years, patients receiving chemotherapy were frustrated by the mental and memory cloudiness they sometimes noticed during and after, their treatments. These vague mental changes can make people unable to go back to work, to school, or participate in social activities. Even though its exact cause is unknown and unexplained, this is commonly called Chemo Brain.
Chemo brain is a widely used term that affects everyday life for many people undergoing cancer treatment. Usually the changes that patients feel are faint, and people around them may not even notice, but they themselves will, and it can be very frustrating. Some of the main symptoms may be: being unusually disorganized, confusion, difficulty concentrating and feeling ”spaced out”, difficulty multitasking, short-term memory problems (trouble remembering details such as names, dates), taking longer than usual to complete routine tasks, trouble remembering common words, difficulty finding the right word, trouble with visual memory and more.
What Can Be Done?
What can be done? Here are some useful tips:
- Get enough sleep and rest
- Exercise your brain with puzzles, take new classes, or learn a new language
- Make lists and notes of everything you need to do
- Exercise moderately
- Don’t try to multitask. Focus on one thing at a time
- Ask for help. Friends and family can help with daily tasks and may have some helpful suggestions
- Accept the temporary situation. Laugh about it, it can help you cope. And remember, you are probably more aware of your mental difficulties than others
- Tell your physician about any changes in your thinking. Evaluations for chemo brain are considered medical procedures and are covered by health insurance