Chemo Brain

I have wanted to write a post so many times in the last couple of weeks.  I kept thinking that my brain cloudiness would go away and I would catch you up on everything.  It didn’t go away and it actually got worse.

They call this side effect ‘chemo brain’.  Here is a brief list of what patients experience

  • Forgetting things that they usually have no trouble recalling (memory lapses)
  • Trouble concentrating (they can’t focus on what they’re doing, have a short attention span, may “space out”)
  • Trouble remembering details like names, dates, and sometimes larger events
  • Trouble multi-tasking, like answering the phone while cooking, without losing track of one task (they are less able to do more than one thing at a time)
  • Taking longer to finish things (disorganized, slower thinking and processing)
  • Trouble remembering common words (unable to find the right words to finish a sentence)

I am not quite a grandma calling my friends by seven names before I get to theirs but I am fast approaching.  I had to ask Lauren to get me the thing in the fridge on the top shelf, that is round and red.  She looked at me with a surprised face and held up a tomato.   That was when I knew that I wasn’t going to keep this brain fogginess to myself.   Since then I have forgotten important peoples names, done half introductions, talked for 20 minutes on the phone to the a completely different person than I thought I was talking to and had to be reminded constantly during conversations of what had just been said, even with my more fascinating friends.

My oncologist said intelligent people have a much harder time with this side effect.  I am going to take the compliment in there.

I haven’t written because I was embarrassed.  There is so much I want to say, so much I think is important to say clearly and I wanted to do that to the best that I could, even when I was stressed, or overwhelmed or confused.  Chemo brain added a whole new element that I wasn’t really ready for.  These last couple of weeks I freaked out, usually at 3am, about not being able to write as coherently as I wanted.  I was terrified that I was losing memories and details of events that I would never ever know that I lost.

I’ve always appreciated when others have written about their embarrassing, vulnerable and human moments, so I feel like I should karmically give back and share mine.  So here it goes, chemo brain and all…..more posts to come.



About tatumderoeck1111

Welcome to my new blog. When I found out I had breast cancer I threw a 'Drinks and Positivity' party. I wanted to keep the drinking (although my drink of choice in the future might be a healthy smoothie) and Positivity going, so I started this blog to keep everyone in the loop.
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2 Responses to Chemo Brain

  1. Karma says:

    Beloved, thank you for your courage in sharing this. It sounds very difficult and very scary.

    Looking forward to reading as much confused, incoherent rambling that you would care to post….

  2. Julie says:

    OMG Tatum…..I had a notebook that I wrote down what time I took my medicine so I would not forget or take it twice……it will get better. I have more trouble with short-term memory than long-term. It’s like I cannot remember when I spoke to whom on the phone last but I could tell you when/where I was when I met them and what clothes they had on. If someone calls me and I do not return their call in the next five minutes……it is forgotten.

    Once you get acquainted with all of these things….life will be better. This truly is the life-changing experience that everyone said it would be. So glad you have such a great attitude and positive outlook….that is really more than half the battle.

    Hang in there and take care o you

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