Friday, January 06, 2012


According to the American Cancer Society:
For years cancer survivors have worried about, joked about, and been frustrated with the mental cloudiness they sometimes notice before, during, and after chemotherapy. Even though its exact cause isn’t always known, this mental fog is commonly called “chemo brain.” Patients have been aware of chemo brain for some time, but only recently have studies been done that could start to explain it.

Doctors have known for years that radiation treatment to the brain could cause problems with thinking and memory. Recently, they have found that chemo is linked to some of the same kinds of problems. (To read more about radiation and its effects, see Understanding Radiation Therapy: A Guide for Patients and Families.) Research has begun to show that some cancer drugs can cause certain kinds of changes in the brain. But it’s also showing that chemo is not the only thing that can cause problems with thinking and memory for people with cancer.

Though the brain usually recovers over time, the sometimes vague yet distressing mental changes cancer patients notice are real, not imagined. They might last a short time, or they might go on for years. These changes can make people unable to go back to their school, work, or social activities, or make it so that it takes a lot of mental effort to do so. They affect everyday life for many people, and more research is needed to help prevent and cope with them.

After my 9th chemo treatment (5a for those in the know), I experienced so much nausea, headaches, and some issues where my brain didn't seem to be functioning correctly. I was "foggy", my memory short, and even my vision blurred. This was a tough treatment session. Nevertheless, I engaged in a activity that I love to (1) Feel good doing something I love, and (2) to capture and depict some of the effects of my chemo brain.

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