Monday 9 January, 2023

A Quick Guide to Chemo Brain

This is our quick guide to chemo brain. Much like neuropathy, chemo brain is a common term used by those impacted by cancer to describe the brain fog many experience as a result of the treatment.

In this guide, we will look at what ‘chemo-brain’ is, the signs and symptoms and some of the things that can be done to combat it.  

What is chemo brain’? 

We define chemo brain as the ‘fogginess’ you experience during or after chemotherapy treatment, often making it hard to remember or concentrate on things. Some people may also get a sensation of not being able to keep up as easily as before treatment.

It may also be possible to experience chemo-brain even if you are not going through chemotherapy. Many experience the same signs and symptoms while going through other cancer treatments. 

What are the signs and symptoms?

Common signs that you are experiencing chemo-brain may be:

  • Being more forgetful than usual
  • Not being able to concentrate on tasks for as long 
  • Forgetting what you are saying mid-sentence
  • Losing your train of thought more often than usual
  • The sensation of brain-fog 
  • Tiredness 

How to combat chemo brain?

Whilst there are ways to cope with the side effects of cancer, there is no specific treatment for chemo brain. However, there are some practical things you can do to help lessen its impact. 

If you’re facing a task, try breaking it down into smaller chunks so that you have less to think about at once. The more you can avoid overwhelming yourself, the better. You might also find it helpful to try and keep life as simple as possible and stick to a similar routine every day. 

Attending a doctor’s appointment when going through cancer can be stressful enough, let alone if you’re worried about forgetting something. Keep a list of questions you want to ask and don’t be afraid of making notes throughout the appointment. You might also find it helpful to take someone else along with you so that you can ask them to help you keep track of the conversation. 

Make the most of technology. Use your phone’s calendar or reminder app to set yourself alerts for things you might otherwise forget, such as taking medication, upcoming appointments or social plans. 
Most of all, be kind to yourself. Remember that your body is working hard to get you through treatment and through cancer. Practise self-care and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you can, lean on your loved ones for their support.

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