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spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

The past few months I have been thinking about "chemo brain" and wanted to open a discussion on it and see what others think...

I know that several noted physicians have said "yes; chemo brain really does exist". I believe it does, too. Lately, however, I have been beginning to wonder if "chemo brain" might not be adult attention deficite disorder. I seriously think I have it - all kidding aside. My kids both had ADD and my oldest had ADHD. I, too, had ADD and maybe ADHD when I was a kid - but back then they called it "BRAT" instead of "ADD".

So, that said, I know what ADD looks like. I also know what chemo brain looks like. I am seeing a number of similarities between the two. I know I have seen what looks like ADD in other survivors as well (and I don't mean anything negative by that statement).

I know I have had a lot on my plate lately which may be the cause, but I am thinking it isn't - this is a long-term thing. Please pass the Ritalin!

Anyone have any thoughts?

vinny3's picture
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

You have a good point. There is a high correlation of kids with ADHD and their parents with alcoholism. That's not saying that all kids with ADHD have alcoholic parents, be clear on that. It's not known if the alcohol use causes the ADHD or if the parents are treating their own ADHD with alcohol. But it seems clear that there is some chemical process involved. Not sure what chemical process is involved in chemo brain but it certainly could be similar.


spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

I'll drink to that, Dick!

Seriously, though...i wonder if anyone has done any studies on this.

Posts: 757
Joined: Jul 2004

Hey Bob,
What were we talking about ???. Sorry I forgot
I have a 24 year old son who has add and is autistic(like). he has some qualities of autisum but not all as drs have told us. I had chemo brain and still do. My son charlie's mind is unbelieveable so sharp and doesn't forget a thing even from years ago. As far as saying add kids have parents that drink alot, I might have a drink 3-4 a year. There might be a link, my wife thinks it is from all the ultra sounds that women get done. Who knows, I am just glad the whole add-autisum thing is coming out and being addressed.
Be well
never,ever give up!!

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

Ahoy, Bruce -

I don't drink much either, despite what I say when I post (it's my avatar, not the "real" me!), and my ex- didn't drink much either (that all started when the kids got older, UGH). I don't think Dick meant to say that all ADD parents drink, but he was tryiong to point out that ADD may be a chemical process which could maybe demonstrate a link to chemo having the same/similar effect on us resulting in "chemo brain".

Speaking of drinking, though, you better tap into some of that Caribbean rum when you're on your cruise. The best rum down there, as far as I'm concerned, is Cruzan. They have a single barrel estate reserve that is excellent.

(same guy who told me about Orient Beach mentioned the rum to me...)


- Bob

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

I'm an old woman, so I think that my 'chemo brain' is partly age. But, if I focus, I can usually combat it. And, I let it go if it doesn't come right away...usually within 5 minutes I remember the thing I was trying to...

Stress is a nasty thing...does many bad no-no's...managing it is the key...

Hugs, Kathi

(We lost another family memeber last Wednesday...sigh...I'm surprised I have any brain left at all....lol)

lfondots63's picture
Posts: 822
Joined: Jan 2006


I think the "chemo brain" is a long term thing even though I heard it may get better. I think the problem is that as you get older this just compounds the chemo brain. I'm coping but at 44 it is very annoying when I can't remember words or names and things. My kids think I'm nuts but I'm not playing as most of you know. It may be a attention deficit problem too because I will be thinking of something and get distracted and entirely forget what I was trying to do until later. Like Kathi I tend to write things down to help me remember. If I loose the calendar on my computer, I would be lost big time. They should do a study on this. I'm wondering as I type if ginko would help the memory/brain functions of chemo brain? I don't think I would want to try any thing like Ritalin but would rather go natural since chemicals made me this way to start. Tell us if you find any thing out.

Lisa F

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

Lisa -

I've been taking ginko for 2 months now and it hasn't helped a bit.

msccolon's picture
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

I have had the advantage (did i really call it an advantage?!!) of going through 2 completely different forms of chemotherapy, and can attest to chemo-brain both being real, and being recoverable. The first time around i did FOLFOX, but had to stop the Oxaliplatin after 3 treatments due to adverse affects. We continued with 5FU and Leucovorin 6 weeks on 2 weeks off for the remainder of the 6 month treatment. I had BAD chemo-brain. However, my brain function returned to normal within 2 months of completing those treatments. The beast came back a year later, and after additional surgery and completing 6 months of FOLFIR, i had NO chemo-brain. So definitely, the chemo-brain was related to the drugs being used, and was temporary. It was really nice to not have the memory problems on top of all the other bummer effects from the chemo.

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