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chemo brain

Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Everyone,
I hope you're all doing well.

I have been off chemo for almost 5 months now and I swear my chemo brain is getting worse, not better, especially when it comes to spelling and memory. It's almost like I have no brain left in my head!!
Has anyone experienced this?
I am concerned because I will be going back on chemo in a few weeks. I usually blow it off, but not being able to spell when I used to be a fairly decent speller is really annoying. This is really frustrating!!!!!!!!!
Take care,

Posts: 768
Joined: Aug 2004

Hi Jamie.

I was never a great speller, so when my chemo brain hit, I was really in for it!!!

Actually, my memory has suffered tremendously. Names, events, places, everything.

It is very annoying as I used to be right on top of things. Could juggle a million things at once. Now I need Post-It notes to remind me where I put my lists of things I have to do.

I'm not kidding, either.

Barb 3years NED Rectal CA stage 3

jgomez's picture
Posts: 25
Joined: Nov 2003

I like to tell you that I had a great memory, but after chemo I began to lose my memory for things I have to do in the moment, in other words if I had to make a telephone call to somebody I will pickup the phone and at that moment I forgot who I should call.

I know that this is a frustating moment but I began to cope the situation and understand that this is the price for living a bit longer.

Another problem that I encontered was the way to express my words, I started to have problems to say the right words. But I feel great to stay alive and live every moment.

Have faith.

Jose, 6 years

goldfinch's picture
Posts: 737
Joined: Oct 2003

My memory has never been great anyway. Bugs the heck out of my sister when she tries to bring up old memories and I say I don't remember.
I guess I should be happy. Chemo beain hasn't affected me much yet. Amazing after 4 years of chemo~
Wish I had some words of wisdom for you. I like Jose's take on it.

sladich's picture
Posts: 430
Joined: May 2007


I definitely had "chemo brain" and still do. My family noticed it before I did. I've been off systemic chemo for over a year and I still struggle with getting the right words out and I say the wrong names of people. Very frustrating!!


shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

I think I had a smidge of it while I was on chemo, but the only thing I notice now is that I forget what I was going to say mid stream. Like I'll say, Hey Stephen....then I forget what the heck I was going to say. That is rather annoying, but as for remembering things, I don't really have a problem with that. Which leads me to think some of the newer drugs might be worse? I was on Camptosar, but never Oxy. Do you think the Oxy is the problem?

BTW, where is your cruise going in Alaska??

shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

check your previous message

Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2005

Hi Jamie -
I had an older form of chemo 9 years ago (5-FU and levamisol) in my 40's and I had and still have chemo brain, though it's not as bad as it used to be. I haven't had spelling problems but I have the same "pick the right word" problem others have mentioned. Jose is right - I think it's a tax on surviving!

I have found a few things that have helped my memory a little
- do one thing at a time, for me, multi-tasking has become a thing of the past
- write down hints to jog your memory when you decide to do something, even 1 word will help
- relax when it happens
- if you can, go back to the place you were sitting or standing when you had the thought the first time. For example, if I'm in the living room and head for the sun room to get a magazine, I forget sometimes why I'm there, but if I walk back to the living room, it's enough of a cue that I can get back on track

I think as time goes on you develop strategies to remember things in a different way. We all developed memory strategies when we were young, now we just need to be flexible enough (young enough!) to do it again.

good luck,

alta29's picture
Posts: 435
Joined: Mar 2005

mine was pretty bad ( even though ny family was used to it...it only got worst ), but I have been out of chemo for 3 months now and I am now back to "normal"

Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Thanks for all your responses. I can relate to everything everyone said. I guess it's just one more thing to deal with in having cancer. As Jose said, we are still alive and that's what's important!
Take care,

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