Friday, February 12, 2010

Combating Chemo Brain

Many people going through cancer treatment notice changes in their memory and thinking abilities. "Chemo brain." It's a term that I use often. It's that... well, how to describe it to someone who hasn't had it? It's a fuzzy feeling, like trying to think through a fog. Throw in a little bit of fatigue and it doesn't leave you at your cognitive best. I don't get it all that often. But when I do, it's hard to concentrate. It's hard to focus. It's a little hard to write this blog sometimes and have it make sense. It's a little bit like the feeling you get when you've had one drink too many, and you don't want to be drunk. You try to will yourself into clarity, but it doesn't always work. Coping with symptoms of chemo brain involves finding ways to remember things better and doing activities that keep your memory sharp. Below is a list of tips for combating chemo brain:
  • Make lists
  • Use a portable planner or personal organizer
  • Get a wall calendar
  • Keep a "memory notebook"
  • Leave a message on your answering machine to remind yourself of something important
  • Organize your environment
  • Avoid distractions
  • Have conversations in quiet places
  • Repeat information aloud after someone gives it to you, and write down important points
  • Keep your mind active
  • Proofread
  • Train yourself to focus
  • Exercise, eat well and get plenty of rest and sleep
Chemo brain is extremely frustrating so I spend time doing all sorts of puzzles to try to keep my mind sharp. I'm also doing yoga and skating with Roller Derby. Have I said how much I'm enjoying Roller Derby? Keeping active really does seem to help.

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