Helpful tips on dealing with chemo brain
Looking for help on how to deal with chemo brain? Going through cancer treatment can be a harrowing experience. Rachael Hayes is an oncology nurse based in Melbourne Australia, and she has a heart for people going through cancer treatment. She has many years of experience in this field and we love that she is sharing her wisdom and offering helpful tips on chemo brain and how to deal with it.
We love…that there are people in this world who try and make things just a little bit better for those going through a difficult time.
Brain fogginess otherwise known as ‘Chemo Brain’ is an unfortunate side effect of chemotherapy. Chemo Brain is definitely Real.
A post by Rachael Hayes, Oncology Nurse.
What does having chemo brain or brain fog mean?
It is essentially problems with memory and thinking. You may have some short-term memory loss or find it difficult to concentrate. Probably feel vague, slow, confused and unable to do more than one thing at a time.
Chemo-Brain is usually a short-term effect but for a few people it can last a long time after all cancer treatment has finished. You lose that ‘Sharpness’!!…You need an extra time-on period to allow your thoughts to rise to the surface!
Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?? It doesn’t need to be…
Think of it this way….now you have a legitimate excuse for when you forget to be somewhere or for why you have forgotten your first-born’s name!!
In all seriousness, for those who experience chemo brain it can be a difficult side effect to manage. Particularly if you are a younger person, someone who is very active, a person still trying to hold down a job or who has a busy household to run. It is also one of those side effects patients don’t generally talk about or mention to their doctors, they just put up with it. Not sure why many just put up with it or don’t really mention it. Maybe because they aren’t sure whether its a side-effect worth mentioning or that they think there isn’t really anything you can do about it.
Well chemo brain is definitely worth mentioning and there is plenty you can do about it….!
Have them all around your house…..for writing lists, taking notes, listing tasks & reminders!! Using Notepads is one of the biggest tips for dealing with Chemo Brain that I can give you.
Chemo brain is not one of those side effects that you can fix rather you have to learn to manage it. You are dealing with the brain, so using some tips from the experts in brain function & memory is a good start.
Six Helpful Tips For Dealing With Chemo Brain
The following are my top six tips for dealing with chemo brain. Remember ‘my most NOTEworthy tip’ …….The use of NOTEpads!!
1. First of all get some organisation into your life – Keep yourself organised and make sure everything has a place because it will make it so much easier to find things. Another suggestion is to keep a Diary or Journal to keep all your appointments, tests & health-related info in rather than in 10 different places. The Grace Files have a beautiful Journal especially designed to help people with cancer get organized and its called Care + Notes.
My Biggest Tip…2. Write everything down… and that’s where the Notepads come in. Don’t expect yourself to remember everything, even the smallest of things…so in order that you don’t forget the important stuff write everything down…..on Notepads! Lists are great. Reminders and tasks written on brightly coloured sticky notes all over the house, may look silly, but it’s going to keep you sane!! Fridges and mirrors are great spots to put them and also the front door. Remember…It’s only a short-term fix as you probably wont need to do it forever!!
3. Don’t multi-task – Do one task at a time because multi-tasking isn’t something you will be good at… at this point.
4. Exercise, eat well and get enough sleep – All these things will improve brain function. Some foods are also known to increase brain power. Therefore eating well, sleeping well, and moving that body will do wonders to improve the functioning of your brain.
5. Mind games – Do puzzles, or games that involve thinking to keep your mind active so that you keep the brain working. Another brain activity could be Crosswords if that is something you enjoy doing. Maybe even Sudoku if the other suggestions don’t impress you.
6. Get help – Ask others to help you with everyday tasks because the less energy and time you need to spend on these tasks the better. Tell your friends and family what you are experiencing so it helps others understand what you are going through…… so as to make light of it. It makes it so much easier when you see someone you know and you can’t remember their name!!
Chemo Brain is not a visible side effect
Chemo brain is not a side effect that you can visibly see like hair loss, so by telling others what’s going on will put you more at ease. Even if you are working whilst having chemo I would suggest you talk to your employers briefly about what chemo brain is, how it is affecting you and how they can help. Simple adjustments in the workplace may need to be made so that you can continue working.
Finally …Chemo Brain is very Real……
Therefore be open to talking & laughing about the fact that you appear to be losing your marbles!!
I hope that you find these tips for how to deal with chemo brain helpful.
Written & contributed by: Rachel www.cancerhealthnurserach.com
If you are about to start your first chemo go ahead and read my blog on tips for coping with your first chemo in order to prepare you better.
The Grace Files came into being when our founder Janelle Ruthven saw a young mother being interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey show many years ago. She was a woman with terminal cancer who was determined to leave her daughters a legacy of her love and wisdom – all the advice she imagined her daughters would need as they grew up. She wrote letters for her children about dating, heartbreak, friendship, work, marriage and motherhood.
Janelle’s two boys were very young at the time and she couldn’t help but ask herself ”˜what if that was me?’ Janelle decided in that moment to create a beautiful book for mothers and fathers to write love letters to their children – for none of us knows how long we’ll have together.
The idea for Love Letters to My Child was the seed that eventually grew to be The Grace Files.