From the Mayo Clinic website:
“Chemo brain is a common term used by cancer survivors to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur during and after cancer treatment. Chemo brain can also be called chemo fog, cancer-related cognitive impairment or cognitive dysfunction.”
I’ve honestly been too focused on the physical aspects of recovery that I haven’t even given much thought to my mental or cognitive well being. It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I was discussing some of my physical symptoms did I even consider that my mind might be having some difficulty as well.
I was discussing my training with the doctor and how I was feeling aggravated at my lack of progress. As we were talking he asked a question that got me to thinking. There were several times that I’d just hit a wall while working out. It wasn’t a physical wall. I still felt like I had energy. I wasn’t overly exerted. I had just suddenly lost interest. It was as if my mind suddenly said, “that’s it. We’re done.” My muscles felt fine but my ability to concentrate and finish the workout was gone.
After I started thinking about it I realized that it was a bit more than just workouts. Around 2pm in the afternoons, my mind just starts to shut down. I have difficulty staying on task and concentrating. Even watching a tv show can be tedious. I also have a very low desire to do anything.
I try to get most of my writing and/or work done in the morning because I know the afternoon will be tough. I had known this to be the case mainly due to physical exhaustion but now that I’m starting to get a grip on that, moving beyond how I feel, now I have to think about how I think.
I had heard of the phrase from other cancer survivors, so I knew about it but I never made the connection that I might be dealing with. And honestly I might not be. I am still on a load of prednisone so there could be some dealings with that. I still try to bring up odd and different things to my doctors. After having given it some thought and keeping track of a few days, I started to think that there might be something there.
Another avenue to pursue. I hope it’s nothing, but again it’s something I want to make the doctors cognizant about. Bringing it up and talking about it can help with regards to treating it, if necessary, or at the very least help us to work through it early.
For now, it’s on the back burner. It is debilitating by any means. It’s just another frustrating experience.