I make lists. A lot of lists.
- Phone Charger
- Tooth Brush
I’ve kept lists from time to time over the years, but since having chemo, I find them essential. After chemo, I found my brain seemed sluggish, slower. I couldn’t really describe what my issue was, but I knew I wasn’t as sharp as I used to be.
It’s been 6 years to the day since I was first diagnosed with cancer. It struck me yesterday when Heather and I were in the hospital. We were visiting a friend in the same hospital that I was diagnosed in. I realized, walking through the corridor, that the anniversary of my diagnosis was only one day away. It made me think about how I have changed over that time. One of the biggest things is my memory.
When I was receiving chemo, the last thing I was concerned about was my memory. I had a lot of things going on, and to be honest, being home, sick, and on chemo is not something that required strong brain power. I was writing software for my phone to pass the time, but it was all new to me and not something I had to recall from memory. My first indication of the issue was when I discovered that I lost words mid-sentence. It was incredibly frustrating as I knew exactly what I wanted to say but was unable to produce the word verbally and unable to find a suitable synonym to get my point across. Very often I found myself stuttering in front of people for (what seemed like) minutes trying to find the word. It was almost always the simplest word too. A word I learned as a young child. A word like “desk!”
While the Mayo Clinic does not tie chemo brain to chemotherapy, it does say that one of the possible causes is cancer treatment. It also talks about cancer itself, complications to treatment, the stress of having cancer, and other medications used to treat the side effects of cancer treatments. Regardless of the reason, I have felt the effects of chemo brain. For me, the effects were worst right after I was done with chemo and have gotten better over time. I still have the occasionally lost word, and I live on lists now, but I function quite normally.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for chemo brain. As mentioned in the Mayo Clinic article, cancer-related memory problems are, for the most part, tempory. I feel like most of my issues have improved over time. I do feel like the effects still linger, but I am able to overcome them. I do this mostly, with lists.
- Hair Brush
- Notepad (for lists!)