Cancer Covered Blog

What Can I Do For Chemobrain?

Marcy Godlewski, MSA, FNP-BC

Chemotherapy can cause many patients to have difficulty concentrating, remembering certain things, or  finishing brain-intensive tasks.  This is commonly called chemobrain. It can sometimes last for weeks, months, or years after treatment for cancer is completed. It’s often a very upsetting experience, even if it’s so slight that no one but the patient notices it.

It is not fully understood how or why chemobrain happens.  Is it caused by the cancer itself or the drugs given during chemotherapy (such as steroids or pain medication)? Is it the effect of chemotherapy on the blood? Is is due to the stress and emotional issues that cancer patients experience?  We have more questions than answers, unfortunately. We also don’t know how to prevent chemobrain from happening. Some patients respond to medications, but the results are very mixed.

If you think chemobrain is happening to you, try tracking the symptoms to see if anything in particular makes the problem worse. There are ways to cope with these memory changes without taking medication.  Some things to try include:

  • Write things down-Use a detailed daily planner, make “to do” lists, and make lists of important information.  Sticky notes are very handy.
  • Exercise your brain-Take a class to learn something new or do puzzles (such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku).
  • Get enough rest/sleep.
  • Exercise-Something as simple as a daily walk can improve your mood, make you more alert and can decrease tiredness.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Set and follow a routine. 
  • Focus on one task at a time.
  • Ask for help when you need it!

Each individual is different and it is always helpful to speak with the nurse, nurse practitioner or doctor regarding your symptoms and what can be done to help.

Green Bay Oncology

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