But some areas of the brain may not return 100 percent. Despite that, the brain is adaptable, and most cancer survivors learn to adjust to the cognitive losses.(4)
About 30 percent of patients have long-term effects that hinder their ability to manage the tasks of daily living.(4)
What Can I Do for My Foggy Brain?
If your brain is suffering the assault of cancer and chemotherapy, there are some strategies you can use to cope:(2),(4)
- Get adequate sleep.
- Keep exercising to manage moods and reduce worry and frustration.
- Use verbal repetition to remember important things, e.g., Feed the dog, Feed the dog, Feed the dog.
- Use strategically placed sticky notes to remind you of your to-do list.
- Form consistent habits, like placing your car keys in the same spot and checking that the stove is off before sitting down to a meal.
- Don’t try to multi-task. Just don’t.(2)
- Ask for help. A friend or family member at your side can assist in whittling away chores and responsibilities, and can help keep you focused on the task at hand.
Finally, share this article with close family and friends so they understand what you're up against. If they understand, they’re more likely to be patient and offer support.
Reviewed September 27, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
1) Ahles, TA and Saykin, A. Cognitive effects of standard-dose chemotherapy in patients with cancer. NIH.gov. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
2) Chemo Brain. cancer.org. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
3) Syrjala, Karen L. et al. Prospective Neurocognitive Function Over 5 Years After Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for Cancer Survivors Compared With Matched Controls at 5 Years. ascopubs.org. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
4) Syrjala, Karen L. Chemobrain. FredHutch.org. Retrieved September 26, 2016.