#ChemoBrain IS real!

You know that foggy feeling that comes after you’ve had chemo? The fumbling for the right words, the memory loss and the super-short attention span?

And multitasking? You can forget all about that!

If you are one of the lucky 30% of cancer patients who don’t experience chemo brain, then this blog is not for you. Otherwise, read on.

Chemo Brain IS Real!

The good news is that for most people the symptoms are what the doctors describe as mild to moderate (even if they may not feel that way). Usually things get better gradually, and within nine months of your last treatment, the fog would usually have cleared.

For some people, though, the symptoms can last for years

If that is what you are experiencing, the good news is that chemo brain is not a progressive dement­ing condition. In other words, it is unlikely to get worse. And the really excellent news is that chemotherapy may be associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

The best advice we can give if you are experiencing chemo brain is to allow yourself a little time. Try not to get anxious. Let people know what you are experiencing so they can help you. And most of all, take a deep breath and try to relax.

This too shall pass.

 

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Preparing for Treatment: The Long & the Short of It!

It is absolutely imperative that you thoroughly understand the particular treatment recommended for you. Make very sure you know both the benefits and the side-effects.

The initial anxiety surrounding the immediate effects of treatment can often distract us from properly listening to and understanding the long-term effects of the treatment being explained to us. Two examples, used by The Cancer Lifeline Programme, are:

  1. One woman was thinking about what the chemotherapy would do to her nails, hair and energy levels. “Will I still be able to work? Will I be able to properly care for my children?” And amidst this hurricane of worries, she may miss the fact that chemotherapy could potentially cause sterility.
  2. Another woman was worried about the Tamoxifen causing possible weight-gain – and didn’t take in the fact that Tamoxifen also carries a 5 – 10% risk of triggering endometrial cancer.

Though knowing each and every postive AND negative of one’s recommended treatment is daunting (understatement?), it is still infinitely more positive and empowering in the long run. Knowing the flip-side of the coin gives you time to mentally, practically and physically prepare for a worst case scenario — instead of it catching you off-guard and unprepared!

TREATMENT TIP #1: schedule two separate chats with your doctor:

  • one about the short-term effects, and describing – step by step – what it will be like for you to progress through the treatment
  • the other about the possible long-term side-effects of treatment

TREATMENT TIP #2: Google with caution!

 

TAKEAWAY:

Article: Knowledge is Key, Says Breast Cancer Survivor

 

 

 

{ adapted by kind courtesy of the Cancer Lifeline Programme, Dr Rosy Daniel of Health Creation }

 

Advocates for Breast Cancer - Dr Rosy Daniel - Integrated Medicine

Treatment: What Questions Should I Ask About My Treatment?

In order to make an informed decision about your own cancer treatment, you need to (and have a right to!) ask every question that arises in your head (and heart).

 


 

Advocates For Breast Cancer - Treatment Advice


It may be very useful for you to keep a diary/notebook to chart your treatment journey – like noting down questions to ask at your next appointment, and then writing down the answers during the appointment itself; or writing down side-effects etc.

Besides writing down the facts and medical nitty-gritties, journaling is also wonderfully therapeutic. Read more here, here and here if this tickles your fancy!


Here are the key questions you should ask your doctors about your specific treatment plan:

 

  • What treatments are recommended for my cancer?
  • What are the short-terms risks of this treatment?
  • What are the possible long-terms risks of this treatment?
  • Is this hospital able to give me access to the most up-to-date treatment for this kind of cancer — or should I be look further afield?
  • Which are the medical centres of excellence for my particular kind of cancer?
  • Are there an adjuvant (‘extra’ or ‘additional’) treatments which will further improve my chances of survival or well-being?
  • Are there any ‘medical frontier’ treatments for my kind of cancer available? Are they only available privately – and if so, at what sort of cost?
  • Are there any promising research trials going on for my kind of cancer?
  • Are there other types of cancer specialists who may be able to help me? e.g. a surgeon, medical oncologist, GP, palliative care physician, anaesthetist.)

Also, in terms of the timing of your treatment, these are  important questions to ask yourself:

 

  • Do I want to go straight into medical treatment of my cancer or do I need time to prepare myself mentally, physically and practically (eg. lifestyle, work etc.)?
  • Do I want to put medical treatment on hold as an option, while I work only with a holistic approach in improving my health? Do I want to try alternative cancer treatments?
  • If I do wish to defer medical treatment while trying to use natural methods, am I sure I’m not putting myself at undue risk?

TAKEAWAY:

 

Top Breast Cancer Apps (for Android and iPhone!)

 

Cancer Guide App (only for iPhone…)

 

And, for those you with an old-fashioned passion for stationery: click here for some gorgeous (and effective!) journey-journaling ideas!

 


 

{ Questions kind courtesy of the Cancer Lifeline Programme, Dr Rosy Daniel of Health Creation }

 

Advocates for Breast Cancer - Dr Rosy Daniel - Integrated Medicine