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Chemo brain.

(37 Posts)
mrsmopp Tue 14-Jan-20 17:15:07

After several operations for gynae cancer, I was treated in October 2018 with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
I’ve noticed memory lapses and lack of concentration and I frequently feel very muddled. It could be my age (75) or it could be heredity ad my dad and grandfather both had dementia. I ought to get it checked, but I’m scares.
Anyone else been through this?

kittylester Tue 14-Jan-20 17:17:34

I think you should see your gp - there are lots of other things that can cause these symptoms. And worrying about it wont help.

GagaJo Tue 14-Jan-20 17:33:48

Ooooo yes. Chemo brain IS a definite thing. One of the five chemo drugs I had one was known to cross the blood / brain barrier.

My memory is shocking. Also I have a mental twitch where I substitute an incorrect word for the word I intended to use. I know it happens so it isn't tragic, until the substituted work is rude!

I have a friend who was forced to give up work from the amount of damage caused by her chemo. She had numerous tests to be able to justify the amount of damage to her employer to enable her to retire for medical reasons.

BradfordLass72 Tue 14-Jan-20 20:39:16

My dear friend Kathy is currently starting radiotherapy after 4 bouts of chemo.

She was warned it could affect her memory and advised to take good quality Vitamin B Complex as soon as the treatment finished.

Framilode Tue 14-Jan-20 20:52:30

There is a cancer thread on Mumsnet for those that are undergoing treatment. They nearly all talk about chemo brain, and a lot of them are young women, so it does seem as if it definitely exists.

It is a very supportive thread located under General Health.

trisher Tue 14-Jan-20 20:53:40

When I was volunteering for CRUK this was discussed a lot by people having treatment. Some doctors think it is also caused by the actual cancer. You can read more here
Hope it helps. CRUK also have a Cancer Chat forum where you can talk to others who are in treatment.
Hope you find ways to cope and. everything goes well.

Moth62 Wed 15-Jan-20 10:13:06

I’m a year on from finishing radiotherapy and have since retired through ill health. My memory is very slowly coming back, but the long-term medication is also to blame for this. I was always good at local quizzes and family games of Trivial Pursuit, but alas no more. I struggle to recall facts, names, pop song titles, etc and it is soooo frustrating, I cannot begin to tell you how much. It probably is partly age, but I have noticed a big change since my radiotherapy (for breast cancer). It’s a hard road and i do everything I can to help with mental agility, but I really don’t like it. My very best wishes to you and all fellow sufferers.

Tamayra Wed 15-Jan-20 10:14:30

I have my husband homeopathic remedy to clear chemo @ anesthetic from his system
His memory came back as did his sense of smell & taste
I’d recommend you give it a try
Ainsworths in London will do a phone consultation for free & mail remedy to you smile

harrigran Wed 15-Jan-20 10:25:19

Yes it does exist, I had chemo brain. I still have lapses where I can not think of the word I want and out comes the first word I think of.
I start conversations but before I can get my point across my brain goes blank.
I used to pride myself on my photographic memory but now it is poor.
All the other chemotherapy side effects were visible and people understood but not the memory thing.

teabagwoman Wed 15-Jan-20 10:35:01

Sorry to hear that you're going through this MrsMop. Have had chemo and agree with everyone who says that chemo brain definitely exists. However would strongly advise you to see your GP because anaemia and other conditions can cause memory problems too. Ask for tests and do not be fobbed off. If you're not already part of a support group can I recommend Maggie's. If they don't have a centre near you they have an excellent on-line group which I found very helpful.

Lupin Wed 15-Jan-20 11:20:49

Chemo brain does exist. My mental faculties have slowed up and it's so easy to blame it on age. As time goes by and with effort to stimulate my brain with puzzles and crosswords, quizzes I am improving.
I've been left with sciatica like pain - which again could be from another cause, but scans rule these out.
Do keep telling your doctors what your experience is when you attend clinic. Don't let them fob you off. Wishing you well.

CBBL Wed 15-Jan-20 11:31:10

My hubby has Skin Cancer and takes Methotrexate (Oral chemo) weekly. Chemo brain is accepted as a fact by many Doctors.
Hubby's memory problems lead him to worry that he is developing Alzheimer's - but several doctors have checked him and ruled this out.

I agree with other posters that Mrs Mopp should check with her GP.

icanhandthemback Wed 15-Jan-20 12:13:36

Definitely get checked...there is so much more they can do these days to slow it down if it is dementia. Good luck.

barbaralynne Wed 15-Jan-20 12:33:07

I had chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer which finished nearly 6 years ago but was followed by medication which killed off all oestrogen. I went on a Cancer related fatigue course run by Macmillan in Bath, and this problem of poor memory, poor concentration, fatigue etc was discussed. Many people get it and, sorry to be a real "Job's comforter", it has been documented that some people still have it up to 20 years post-treatment. I still have it and, after a busy day, I have to take it easy or I am likely to faint when stood for very long!
The side effects of the chemotherapy can be brutal but we are still here to tell the tale!

Daisyboots Wed 15-Jan-20 13:04:23

Yes Chemo brain definitely exists and is mentioned by patients on many online sites. I finished my first course chemo at the end of August 2019 and while my memory is better than it was l still forget words or even what I am talking about. Am about to go for more scans to see if it has spread or if the radio therapy has slowed it down. If the first it will be more chemo. And more chemo brain.

crimpedhalo Wed 15-Jan-20 14:10:33

My 73 yo husband has chemo brain after being diagnosed with Myeloma in 2015 and having chemo drugs and a stem cell transplant. He's back on chemo drugs now. His short term memory is bad. His haematologist says this is normal.

Caro57 Wed 15-Jan-20 15:34:36

Chemo brain quite well known but don’t let that stop you going to GP to get checked. Also ask your chemo nurses / consultant / specialist nurse

Aepgirl Wed 15-Jan-20 15:45:26

You have to overcome your fears and ask your GP. LET’s hope it’s a ‘waste of a worry’ and all is well.

kittylester Wed 15-Jan-20 15:47:20

You might even only have an infection - easily treated with antibiotics.

BladeAnnie Wed 15-Jan-20 17:30:08

Speak to your GP if only to put your mind at rest. This is not the same at all but I had sepsis 18 months ago - went into to septic shock and my family were told to expect the worst. Obviously I made and I'm so thankful I did but I'm not the same person. My brain is foggy and fuzzy, I get very muddled and my concentration is poor. All very real just as chemo brain is. Sending lots of love

Kryptonite Wed 15-Jan-20 17:38:50

It is definitely caused by the chemotherapy and is a well known side-effect. I have had this myself. You may also have suffered from fatigue which can affect cognitive skills too. If in addition you have had any hormonal treatments, this may have added to the problem. Radiotherapy can cause fatigue too. It will pass. Just be kind to yourself and rest when you need to. Information on Macmillan website. Get well soon. xx

amber22 Wed 15-Jan-20 17:45:40

as everyone says, do go to your GP, or mention it to your specialist if you're still having hospital appointments re your cancer. I had chemo and radiotherapy for breast cancer in the early 90s, had to take early retirement (age 50) because of the aftereffects of the treatment. Also, 2 girlfriends broke off any contact because I was so woollyminded and vague. Looking back, perhaps they were a bit intolerant. Anyway, it took at least 5 years before I felt near normal. But that was 30 years ago, treatment has improved, so I hope you will feel much better soon.

grannymy Wed 15-Jan-20 17:52:03

I'm sorry to hear that you had cancer and had to go through all the treatment. I hope you make an appointment with your doctor and that all is well. I definitely think that stress can cause memory problems. It's like a kind of brain fog.

hulahoop Wed 15-Jan-20 18:52:44

I still struggle to find correct words and remember people's names my chemo finished 5yrs ago but see your GP like others have said it could be caused by something else take care .

JanaNana Wed 15-Jan-20 19:25:24

I finished having chemo and radiotherapy around 18 months ago for breast cancer. I found it difficult for a while to concentrate on reading books and when having a conversation suddenly found I couldn't think of a particular word I wanted to say. Over the last 6 months it has improved a lot and I can now enjoy reading books again. I still have the odd moments when I can't think of the right word I want to use but it isn't as bad now as it first was. I also think it depends a lot on the type of chemo you have and how many sessions you have to have. Some chemotherapy is much stronger than others depending on your diagnosis and this probably contributes to "chemo brain fog". I had to have chemo first before the surgery then last of all the radiotherapy. The aftercare team at my local hospital said it is not unusual for this to happen bearing in mind everything your body has been through.