chemo brain?

i have always heard about chemo brain.
that being said, iv never been told about any possible "foggie-ness" or other mental processing whatever you want to call it issues or problems from my doctors.
i have only head of chemo brain and its effects from the internet and people i have had casual encounters with.
10...almost 11 years later and in my 3rd year of college i am finally feeling the effects, idk if it really is chemo brain because it has been so long since my original surgery or just general mental laziness but i have thee absolute worst short term memory and it is driving me absolutely crazy
i will log onto the internet and literally in 5 seconds forget what i was looking for
walk into the kitchen to eat something specific and forget what in particular i wanted to eat
and even call a friend on the phone and forget what i wanted to tell them
it is the absolutely most annoying thing in the world and i am so aggravated and mad.
going off on a tangent i have also not gone to any of my yearly annual checkups/mri's etc in 2 years and refuse to have anything to do with my oncology program
my parents nag me so hard about not keeping in touch with oncology and mri's etc and next to that i have been in school and have absolutely no friends and no social life at all.....which im constantly given a hard time for (i still live at home)
i am just sooo tired of all of these stupid after effects i have to deal with...especially this new memory loss thing


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  • I very much know what you are going through, though I don't know if mine is from the chemo or the surgery itself. I had a cranial resection to remove a tumor from my right frontal lobe about a year and a half ago. The subsequent radiation and chemo probably did not help matters much.
    I definitely have noticed a depreciation in my recall and that infuriating situation of having a word on the tip of my tongue and not being able to spit it out or starting to do something and almost immediately forget what it was.
    Ritalin has helped a bit, and I am honestly not sure if I could continue my job without it. This might be something you may want to look into.
  • It is difficult to determine how much mental deterioration comes from chemobrain. Chemobrain specifically is more of a short term issue related to certain chemotherapy drugs, that I have heard as lasting up to 5 years after treatment ends. I definitely had it while undergoing chemotherapy treatments on a regular basis for 9 months. My memory of that time is seriously foggy. Long periods of time I just don't remember...especially right after a treatment cycle.

    It also affected my concentration in a bad way. I started back at school right after my treatments ended and I was cleared physically. I had to take it slow for about a year after that. Really slow. At first, one class. Then, two, and I nearly failed those two. I had to re-learn how to learn and study because things were different. It was hard for me to enumerate, so disability services at school turned out to be pretty useless. Thankfully, I had professors who cared and made an effort to help me out after I went to them concerned with my performance. I have found that exercising my brain is helpful and I do see improvements over time. My memory is better. I forget things less often, and I find myself remembering things again that I used to be able to remember before treatment. My concentration is slowly improving, but I have to work at it. It's hard work.

    Long term effects of treatment are different. Generally, they get worse over time and mental exercise only slows the deterioration. You could say that when it comes to cognitive long-term effects, many of them are similar to what folks go through as they age. My sister experienced similar cognitive issues during her pregnancy and after the birth of her first daughter. She's always been kinda scatterbrained (moreso than me, even - I had an "absentminded professor" streak going, too), and it got exaggerated, maybe due to the hormonal changes she endured, I dunno.

    My oncologists told me that the best way to fight cognitive decline due to long term effects was to exercise my brain. Studying, crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, reading, problem-solving, etc. That's not been too tough for me...I just finished grad school about a year ago, and that was some serious mental challenge there. For me, the absentmindedness comes out when I'm stressed or preoccupied. I had it bad as an undergrad (pre-diagnosis). I once forgot to register for classes for the following year for about a week after my official registration day because I had a looming deadline and I was busting tail so hard on a project. When I'm working on something, I am the type of person who will forget to eat. I have always been that way. Treatment did not change that.
  • Caligal, Did you have radiation to the brain? That could be it. There is nothing nice about radiation and having it to the brain be devastating. Effects of it can come 10+ years down the road. I have that short term memory problem, too. I constantly don't remember where I placed my keys, glasses, etc.. and can't remember where I placed them and then go around frantically searching for them. I also do have that "forgetting what I'm about to do or say" occasionally, but misplacing thing seems to be my big problem. I also had Medulloblastoma, so I know some of the things you're going through.

  • Hi caligal,
    I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I hope things get better.
    I have breast ca stage 2 & am currently getting chemo once every three wks. I feel the effects of chemo brain the worst 2 wks right after chemo. I forget what words I want to say, talk slowly & have misplaced things or left things in places. It gets a little better my third wk but I still forget things & am misplacing things, just not as bad as the 1st 2 wks. Although I read that chemo shouldn't cross the blood brain barrier, I feel that it still affects my mind & I have heard others say the same. I am doing mind exercises and trying to read more while on my treatment regimen to make sure It doesn't get worse. I'm not sure what other options are out there other than exercising your brain. I also make a lot of lists and write myself notes on my phone to help remind myself what I need to do.

    Good luck to everyone!
  • So I was told about chemo brain, though I don't remember whether it was from my doctors or while in the apartment I lived in while undergoing treatment (it was specifically for kids undergoing cancer or BMT treatment), but it wasn't told to the full extent of what I'm dealing with, or maybe I'm dealing with something else, I'm not sure. I'm almost 23, but was diagnosed when I was 17 with Ewing's Sarcoma. The tumor was in my left sinus and was about the size of a grapefruit, fitting right below my eye (not damaging it) and was beginning to push through my palette coming out of the hole left by my wisdom tooth that it popped out. Anyways I had 3 days of emergency radiation to the area, 8 rounds of chemo alternating between two groups of them every two weeks or so, then surgery to remove what was left along with bone and nerves and soft tissues, the 5 weeks of radiation (25 days in total) and finally 6 more rounds of chemo. Every time I had one of the two sets of chemo, I would forget a whole week, I'm not sure if it was caused by the chemo or by other drugs they were giving me, but apparently I would be fully functional during these periods, having conversations with people and being active but would wake up one day not knowing anything that had occurred, which became quite frustrating when I'd find presents in my room and not know who they were from, or having someone be offended that I didn't remember anything we did. Anyways, years have passed and I am 5 years out of treatment and in remission, but still struggle with memory. I'll forget full conversations I had with people just minutes before, I once called my mom 3 times within an hour to ask her the same question not remembering that I called her at all that day. Originally, I was told it was just chemo brain, and when ever it happened I would just laugh and joke about it. But I feel like it has been getting progressively worse over time and I'm honestly scared. My roommate, who was a friend since before my diagnosis has been very patient when it happens, but I can tell she's starting to get more frustrated, saying things like "you already told me twice" or "I'm not going to answer the same question 3 times". And I've tried making notes or lists on my phone to help remind me of things, but I'll forget that I did and often find it days later and not understand why it's there. I feel like I'm losing my mind, and my friends and I all joke that I've got Alzheimer's and what not, but internally I wonder if it's partially true or if it's worse. I know a lot of the people on here are worried about relapse, and I am a little too. Sometimes I wonder if I'm developing a brain tumor or something, but because of where my initial tumor was, I get follow up scans of my head at least twice a year, and always come back as clear. I'm not sure if others are dealing with chemo brain to the same severity (there most likely is) but I'm truly terrified of getting worse, even more so than relapsing honestly. I'm not sure what to do or if there is anything I could do to help outside of just waiting for my mind to slip away.