What is chemo brain? How to face the symptoms of chemotherapy
Chemotherapy, while often necessary to treat different types of cancer, is harsh on our bodies and can cause adverse effects. Chemo brain, or chemo fog, is what happens when our cognitive functions are damaged by chemotherapy, causing problems with abilities like memory and concentration, which may show signs of damage up to 10 years after finishing chemo. There is still no way to prevent chemo brain, but there are many studies currently working to find a solution.
For now, there are exercise programs that may help improve memory and prevent deterioration, like the cognitive training program by CogniFit, which adapts to each patient and analyzes which areas of the brain show the most damage and works to improve those specific areas.
What is Chemo Brain: Support Groups
Mental changes due to chemotherapy are usually quite mild, but patients that experience the change notice the difference right away. These secondary effects bring about significant changes in the patient’s life that may lead them to depression and anxiety. In order to to prevent these feelings, the patient can turn to their medical team to get information about mental health professions that will be able to help them on their journey. Friends and family also play an important role in supporting and helping the patient, talking to them openly and honestly is extremely important. Being able to have an honest dialogue about what their going through and possible outcomes is very important. Lastly, attending support groups with other people who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment may be also a big help.
What is Chemo Brain: Advice for Living With It
-Always keep the goal in mind. Think of the side effects as just another obstacle on our way to get there.
-Eating well is very important. Our body needs energy to be able to recover.
-Resolve any questions that you may have about the treatment or illness so you feel ready and able to face the situation.
-Exercise if possible. It improves appetite and helps us sleep better.
-Start new hobbies and activities, or continue doing ones that you previously had.
-Don’t expect too much of yourself. It’s normal to not have as much energy as before.
-Rest as much as possible, and don’t worry about the mild side effects, focus on what’s important.
This post is also available in: Spanish