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Chemo Brain

Difficulty with Memory and Thinking - Known as 'Chemo Brain'

What it is and How to Help

Know someone who is going through cancer treatment? Did you know they can sometimes experience 'Chemo Brain' (also known as Chemo Fog)?

Understanding some of the symptoms of Chemo Brain may help you in supporting your loved one going through cancer treatments.

Chemo Brain can be caused by:

  • the stress of a cancer diagnosis

  • some cancer treatments such as chemotherapy

  • radiation therapy

  • or surgery etc.

Symptoms of Chemo Brain:

According to the Mayo Clinic (USA) symptoms can include:

  • difficulty finding the right word or doing simple math

  • short term memory problems

  • confusion

  • being disorganised

  • fatigue

  • feeling of mental fogginess

  • short attention span

  • trouble remembering a conversation

  • trouble with visual memory

How to help someone suffering from Chemo Brain:

  • take them for a short walk, even if it's only 5 minutes a day

  • offer to pick up their kids from school or daycare, do a grocery shop, pick up a prescription etc so they can have a rest

  • exercise the brain - drop off some puzzle books (crosswords, word-search etc), jigsaw puzzle, play a game with them such as Connect Four, or cards. The idea is to challenge the brain, but not to frustrate - so don't make it too hard

  • Always be patient. It won't help your friend if you become impatient with their mental fogginess

  • remind them that you care; sit with them, watch a funny movie together, send a text message, if you live far away send a card or gift hamper.

For more tips on supporting someone with cancer and practical gift ideas, click on this link:

gift hamper containing; relaxing wheattie bag, healing balm, body lotion, word-search puzzle book, neck pillow, energy snack

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