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What is “Chemo Brain”????

Do you have trouble remembering two things at once?

You walk into your house to put your car keys away and get the meat out for dinner but as soon as you put your keys away you stand there for a few minutes wondering what the other thing was that you needed to do. This might happen once in awhile to us but for people that have gone through chemotherapy this can happen more frequently. 

My wife Cindy has been working on getting her bachelors degree in nursing recently and in her psychology class she did her term Powerpoint on “Chemo Brain.” Her psychology professor gave her 100 percent. Not only did he think it was well written and researched but he was not even aware of the term. 

Chemo Brain side effects can include:

Difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly

Trouble performing more than one task at a time (difficulty multitasking)

Decrease in memory – especially visual and verbal memory, such as remembering things that were said in a conversation or an item written on a grocery list

A shortened attention span

Becoming easily confused, especially when learning new information

 Feeling disorganized

We can all relate to these symptoms once in a while, but someone who has had multiple chemo treatments will have to deal with them more regularly. Cindy mentions to me how much harder she has to work in school since her treatment, especially in keeping notes as her professors speak.

In most cases their memory will improve, but it depends on age and how many treatments they have had.

So, the next time you have a conversation with someone who has had chemo treatments be patient if they ask you to repeat something or forget something you said. They are not being rude or not paying attention. They are just trying to take it in until their brain can start functioning on all cylinders!

Carson Boss is the author of Your Wife Has Cancer, Now What?


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