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What is Chemo Brain

Cancer survivors describe chemo brain or Chemo fog as memory problems during and after treatment.  As many as 3 out of 4 people with cancer say they're not as mentally sharp.  Even though chemo brain is a widely used term,  it is not well understood, and research are only starting to understand chemo brain. 
Signs and symptoms of chemo brain may include the following:
  • Being unusually disorganized
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty finding the right word
  • Difficulty learning new skills
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Feeling of mental fogginess
  • Short attention span
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Taking longer than usual to complete routine tasks
  • Trouble with verbal memory, such as remembering a conversation
  • Trouble with visual memory, such as recalling an image or list of words
 Suffering from Chemobrain 
You will get frustrated, you will have good days, and you will have bad days. You will become aggravated more easily with yourself and those around you. Just remember that nothing is permanent, you can and you will get passed this, even your worst days will pass. Also, if you are a family member, friend, or acquaintance of someone going through chemo brain, make sure you are nothing but patient, kind, and understanding. Not feeling like yourself mentally is extremely challenging, and if they lash out at you do not take it personally, (unless you deserve it) they are likely not mad at you, but are upset with themselves or frustrated with their memory.

The most important thing you can do, whether you are a caregiver, a friend, a family member, or a patient, is to relax! Stressing about this issue will only make it worse. Take some time, do some research, and make changes to help this side effect affect you as little as possible! Chemo brain doesn’t have to slow you down as much if you take the steps to adjust and make your life as stress free as possible.

How  Long Dose Chemo Brain Last
A majority of the time chemo brain only lasts several months after treatment, but in some cases it can last for several years, or it may never gp away.  

It is of the utmost importance that you disclose all symptoms with your doctor so they can determine what is causing these symptoms and possibly give you medication to reduce these problems and figure out if chemo brain is the cause and that the cause of these symptoms is not something more serious. There are, however, natural ways of reducing chemo brain which you can find under the 

Caregiver and Chemo Brain
Are you a caregiver, family member, or friend of someone currently facing the symptoms of chemo brain? The first thing you can do to help someone going through this is to make sure that they have told their doctor about their symptoms, and if they haven’t, help them come to the decision that telling their doctor about these symptoms is the right thing to do. Chemo brain is extremely common and is able to be lessened through various methods, but it could be something more serious so it is important to get it checked out. Other than that, just be as helpful and as patient as possible. Sometimes they will get frustrated, sometimes they will be late, be kind, and maybe send them a reminder before you’re supposed to meet. Help them make a calendar, have them set an alarm on their phone for important things you know they have coming up. Ask them if they need or want help. 

Tips and Tricks on How to Manage Chemo Brain

Manage Chemo Brain by Reducing Your Stress and Controlling Your Emotions
Chemo brain effects you more when you are stressed and not in control of your emotions. Learning to control your mind and not allowing yourself to get stress can help.  Going to counseling to learning tips on how to control your emotions is very helpful. When you manage your emotional stress,  your effects of chemo brain can be reduced significantly.   Read the article from Psychology Today  on some tips on coping and manging emotions.  
Exercise frequently!
Just a few minutes of exercise a day can help lift the fog of chemo brain. It is said that aerobic exercise is better for clearing the mind, but any form of exercise is helpful. Even if it’s just walking your dog, or using an elliptical while watching T.V., getting your blood pumping is incredibly important! Try to find something that you enjoy doing so it does not even feel like you are working out, make sure it is something safe, and try and get your friends involved. Exercising with a friend or family member will always make it more fun and make time pass quicker!

Sleep and Rest

Make sure you are getting enough sleep! Sleep is extremely important when fighting chemo brain. When you sleep your brain clarifies the memories absorbed during the day for people not going through chemotherapy. Which makes it EVEN MORE important if you are going through chemo, so get your sleep!  Rest is important to recharge your body so while you are fighting cancer your body needs to be as rested as possible.

Stay Organized!

Using a calendar or planner is a great way to keep track of everything you need to do while experiencing chemo brain. Set alarms on your watch or phone with names specific to what you need to be doing to keep yourself on task, that way if you forget what you’re doing, or you get distracted, the alarm and it’s name should remind you what you are doing, and that you need to be doing it at that time. Make everything simple for yourself so you don’t get stressed out by the forgetfulness. Today’s technology can make life so simple, try and find apps that can help you stay organized such as Timeful, Evernote, or Trello, and if all else fails, write reminders on you hands or post it notes, take it old school.

Follow A Routine!

Along with staying organized comes following a routine. By following a routine, it makes your day so much simpler. You will get used to your everyday routine and soon there will be less for you to remember on a daily basis. Once your routine becomes a habit, days will flow so much easier. You must try and take things one step at a time, and not overwhelm yourself, things will get better.

Memory Games! With today’s technology it is ridiculously easy to find apps such as Sudoku or Words with Friends to keep your mind sharp. Mental exercises just as important as physical exercise, and it can be fun! The Telegraph wrote an article on “The top brain-training apps to keep your mind sharp” and here is the link so you can decide which ones you want to try for yourself:

Ask for Help! Family members, coworkers, neighbors, and roommates are all good options for people you can ask for help. There are many people that can help you relieve the stress of not remembering. If you’re worrying about missing an appointment ask someone to go with you or to remind you beforehand! You aren’t alone. Accommodations can be made at work or school to allow you to continue these things without putting you too far behind, such as a lighter workload, or extensions on deadlines.

Eat Well, Take Your Vitamins, and Stay Hydrated! 

Keeping your body healthy is one of the easiest ways to keep your mind healthy as well. Making sure you drink enough water and take the necessary vitamins that keep your brain functioning correctly (CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING ANY VITAMINS, vitamin C, and other vitamins can inhibit chemo treatment).
Vitamin D and B can help with chemo brain.  
Dehydration and lack of nutrients can cause fatigue and mood shifts, so to avoid adding to the symptoms of chemo brain it’s important to stay on top of your health. Create a water bottle that has the time on the side so you remember to drink enough, and set an alarm to take vitamins or put post it notes around the house.

Try and Relax!
Giving your mind time to rest and recharge allows you to relax. Try yoga or meditation to allow yourself to clear your mind for a little bit each day. If yoga and meditation are not your thing, grab a good book, if you live near the ocean go to the beach, make sure you are taking time out of your day to focus on yourself. Do things that you enjoy and make yourself a priority. Trying to remember things, and worrying about forgetting them is stressful, and stressing about it just makes it harder to remember! Take a break, recharge, and remember that you're not the only one going through this and that there are people who can help you.
Overall, the most important thing to do is to use the tools you have at your disposal to reduce your stress and keep things simple. Calendars and reminders are your best friends, and staying as healthy as possible through diet and exercise should help your mind stay as sharp as possible during this not so clear time. If you have any question about whether or not you should be doing something, ALWAYS ask your doctor. They are the experts and will know whether or not you should be doing something. So again, relax and just do the best you can.

The information from this article came from these sites:

Causes of Chemo Brain

Chemo Brain Tips from Cancer Survivors  

Emotions Effect Chemo Brain   

Reduce Stress Reduce Chemo Brain

Natural Ways to Reduce Chemo Brain