Thursday, November 29, 2012


I suffer from chemo brain.

Chemo brain has been very difficult at times for me. It has brought me to tears. Sometimes it is knowing there is something, like a specific word,  you want to say but your are unable to find that particular word. It is like writing out a recipe and not being able to list the ingredients. You know you need to add flour but the word is not there. So frustrating . I can usually find words to describe what the term or thing is. For flour I would use white fluffy wheat stuff.  But the word escapes me.

Sometimes when I am in a hurry I will say or  type a sentence that includes a word that makes no sense. Just the other day I texted my niece about Christmas but ended up putting down the word birthday. Weird huh. I didn't catch it. She did. Good thing she understands.

I can be in a conversation and my husband will ask me if I meant to use a word.  Many times that is not at all what I wanted to say. At other times my husband or children will graciously finish or find the word for me. Thank goodness. I write notes to myself all the time and will check and double check and triple check what I write here or in e-mails I send out because sometimes the letters are all there but they sure aren't in the correct order. I mix up numbers too. I taught math and computer science before chemotherapy and never made the errors I make now.

I was very happy yesterday to watch a video and read about research on chemo brain at the University of West Virginia that included before, during and after PET-CTs of 115  breast cancer patients brains. The study found that there was significant metabolic changes in the superior medial frontal gyrus and the temporal operculum of the brain. The superior medial frontal gyrus is associated with mental agility, problem solving, sequencing  and decision making and the temporal operculum is long term memory.

The researchers are not sure of the mechanics of the metabolic changes but it could be a cytokine response or nerve demyelination.Now all we need are researchers to discover how to reduce this metabolic change for those undergoing chemotherapy.

Sources :
Radiological Society of North America meeting Source reference:
Lagos R, et al "Towards diagnostic imaging of ChemoBrain phenomenon" RSNA 2012; Abstract LL-MIS-TU2A.

Medpage 'Chemo Brain' a Real Thing


Every Day is a Blessing!


Anonymous said...

Great synopsis, Dee, of a very frustrating symptom in many people! Glad to see the research is starting!


Facing Cancer Together said...

More often as I look at news feeds chemo brain is coming up as an area being researched. That’s good news, I think, though who knows where their conclusions will lead. In the meanwhile, I’m glad to hear your family is so supportive. ~Catherine

Obsessedwithlife said...

I can relate!

Nancy's Point said...

Chemobrain is frustrating at times isn't it? I seem to have no trouble remembering stuff from long ago, but ask me what movie I saw last week... And now remember numbers of any kind is really hard for me. I am so happy to see this side effect of treatment being taken more seriously. It's about time. Thanks for writing about it.