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2 Questions about side effects from Chemo

Mo67
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 2004

Hello

My Aunt will just be finishing her first round of Chemo treatments this week and will be going to the oncologist today to get the results from all her past treatments ( she has been going every 2 weeks since just before Xmas).In recent discussions she was wondering 2 things regarding possible side effects from the chemo so I told her I would email all of you to see if someone would be able to confirm or deny.

She has been finding her memory is not what it used to be and thought that the chemo could cause possible short term memory loss? Is this possible?

She has also been very stuffed up as of late ( stuffed up nose) and within her reading she came across something that mentioned this too was also a possible side effect from Chemo.Has anyone came across that as well?

Any insight you could provide me would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks kindly

Regards
Mo67

dorookie
Posts: 1736
Joined: Jul 2007

Hi there,

Yes alot of us going thorugh chemo experience what we call "CHEMO BRain". which has affected some short term memory loss. It hasnt affected me that much, but I have read a lot of post where it has bothered others, and I am sure they will post here to fill you in. As for being stuffed up I havent experienced that so I cant comment on it. But I sure hope your aunt is feeling better. She should ask these questions with either her ONC or the ONC nurses, I know they will be able to answer them as well.

God bless you and your aunt.
Beth

Mo67
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 2004

Thank you for your quick reply. My Aunt was concerned that with the memory loss she thought the cancer might have moved upwards....In fact her Dr. frightened her a bit with some diecrt questions however he was able to alleviate some of the fear, however this news will please her some. I have told her how wonderful this site is but she is not ready to open up herself to the internet yet. I hope that one day she will find this website as helpful as I have.

Thank you for you insight and kind words.
Cheers
Mo

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

that she needs to be in here....we cry, we share, we laugh, we love, we take great care of our own, and we are the best possible source of information she will ever get...Throughout all of us we have been through it all and we tell it like it is for the most part with kindness and understanding added.......God Bless you and your Aunt.....

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

I just finished 12 rounds of oxaliplatin/leucovorin and 5fu and yes I can't remember nothing right now.....I am really aggravated with it but I am hoping it will pass....I can walk out of the room right now to go get something specific and before I get into another room I have forgotten what I was going to get......Yes it is really aggravating but I am alive....and several say that their noses and sinus' run pretty good. so yeah, your normal....LOL...God Bless ya

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

I echo what Beth said, you might want to ask your onc nurses about them. Also, what chemo is she receiving? This can greatly affect what side effects she sees and how quickly they will resolve after finishing treatments. Avastin affects my sinus discharge greatly, and the 5FU did as well.

ETA: ummmm I can't remember what your first question was ... oh yea, chemo brain! Yep, still have it!
mary

neon356
Posts: 137
Joined: Mar 2004

Yes, very typical reactions. Just having to make life adjustments with a bag, we have to remember (if the brain freeze doesn't kill the thought) to make other adjustments as well. Assume that short term memory will probably be real. Therefore, WRITE IT DOWN!. It avoids embarrassment missing that important date or appointment, etc. I was never the kind of person that wrote lists, but I soon found that writing things down on a pad of paper that I kept on the kitchen counter was a real lifesaver many times.

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

got a pad and pen I carry in my pocket all the time....its my memory......LOL

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4906
Joined: May 2005

Definitely Chemo Brain. I can remember things from childhood, answers to many Jeopardy questions, complex XML and HTML coding for work, but I'll be damned if I can remember what I had for breakfast. I too either write things down or record them on my MP3 player/voice recorder. Plus, I don't know how old you Aunt is but I'm in my early 50's and that doesn't help either.
The nose I don't knows. Could it be that spring is in the air?

There are many side effects that we all share from taking the same medications. Then some of us are on different medications for colon cancer. It depends on the amount of Time Served doing chemo, what stage you are at, what areas are more affected, etc. There are a whole lot of different factors that can cause many side effects. A very helpful thing about this website is that it has groups for many different types of cancer. That way you can match notes with people who may have the same stage or protocols.
I wish your Aunt (and you) the best
-phil

polarprincess
Posts: 210
Joined: Aug 2008

I haven't experienced the memory loss like some of you, but rather in a different form.. i used to be an excellent speller, and i have noticed since chemo that i have a harder time spelling words.. i have to really think about it now and sometimes it won't come to me as before when it was easy and natural.

CherylHutch's picture
CherylHutch
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

You can assure your aunt... like the others have said, "Chemo Brain" is a very real, and very common side affect to the chemo. You said that she just finished her last round, so depending on what round that is, I'm going to guess it is her 12th round? By now she will really be feeling the Chemo Brain fuzzy memory... and yes, it can be very aggravating. Really stupid things like calling the dog and momentarily forgetting her name. Of course, my favourite memory of no memory ... I went to take the dog out for a quick walk around the block. It looked a little breezy outside which I wasn't expecting so made a mental note to myself "Go to the closet, get your coat and put it on NOW, before you forget!" So mission accomplished... coat got put on and zipped up, got the leash off the hook on the back of the door, got the keys, walked out, remembered to lock the door, and got down the street, almost to the end of the street before it dawned on me..."Oh poop!! I forgot the dog!!"

Like I say... totally normal... but oh soooo aggravating! I had to go back and get the dog and start all over again :) At least I didn't take my coat off when I went home :)

Hugggggs,

Cheryl

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Ah- lovely chemo brain. Sometimes I'll have a "glimpse" of a thought & think that I know I was trying to remember something but can't remember what it was- sometimes it will pop into my mind later & about half the time I absolutely never think of it again (I think, anyhow!) One time someone I knew very well called me on the phone and I must have talked for a good ten minutes while my mind was completely blanking and I had no idea who I was talking to. It wasn't until after I made an excuse to get off the phone (because I felt so stupid talking to someone who obviously knew me but I couldn't remember who she was)- that it then dawned on me who I had been talking to! I find I can't help my kids very well with their homework anymore & definitely not with the math, and I'm a teacher (who obviously isn't teaching anymore)!
I pray it gets better, but I do know that some of it can be permanent. So, your aunt is not losing it or having symptoms of cancer in the brain- chemobrain is very, very real. I'm going to start downing the Omega 3 fish oil for it, I think.

Lisa

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Cheryl,

You're so funny- I pictured you walking down the street without your dog and realizing you forgot the dog! I haven't done that one yet, but maybe that will be my next trick!

CherylHutch's picture
CherylHutch
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Well, afterwards it was very funny and a story I don't think my friends will let me forget for a long time ;) But at the time... you know how things go through your mind so fast, in no particular order? When I realized I had a leash but no dog the thoughts were crazy... "Why am I outside walking without Bridget?" "Uh, why do I have Bridget's leash but no Bridget??" "OMG! Where's Bridget???" "Oh you total idiot... tell me you didn't walk out the door and get this far away without remembering to bring the dog!"

Sure enough, when I went home, Bridget was calmly sitting in the hall by the door with that look on her little schnauzer face that said, "Uh, Mom? Is it my turn to go out now? Why did you go out the door without me and you took my walking leash!!" :D

Chemo brain... ya have to love it and just realize it's all part of what we are going through :) As long as I don't leave burners on the stove on or the oven on, there's not too much else that would be dangerous if I forgot :)

Huggggggs,

Cheryl

snommintj's picture
snommintj
Posts: 602
Joined: Mar 2009

During chemo I didn't have chemo brain, I don't think anyway. But recently I've noticed that I can't remember if I washed my hair when I'm in the shower. It's the craziest thing ever, I kind of blackout for the first few minutes. I have no recollection of washing my hair for the last two months. I had to start a new routine, I place the shampoo in a different location than where I got it from. But I found that this only work if I turn the shower off before I put it back in it's original spot. Wierd! I had to fill out multiple forms a few weeks ago. Every time I got to the line where it said date I kind of went into this trance, where not only did I not know what the term date meant, when I did figure it out I couldn't remember the date. It literally took me 3-4 minutes to fill the date out on each and every form. It was very frustrating. I had started writing notes to myself for small things but I never remembered I had written notes. I sure hope things ease up a bit, I feel sometimes like I'm getting alzheimers.

tiny one
Posts: 467
Joined: Jan 2009

The short term memory loss, also called chemo brain, chemo fog, affects alot of people for quite awhile. I am still having a little chemo brain even 17 months from my last chemo treatment. The nose stuffiness is surely a side effect also. That should get better fairly fast. God bless.

kmygil
Posts: 881
Joined: Feb 2007

Your aunt is not alone. Alas, chemo brain strikes almost everyone. The fogginess, the forgetfulness, the feeling that you have cotton balls in your head. It is sometimes amusing, often frustrating and every once in a while, scary. This will gradually improve after chemo. Post-its and a little hand-held voice recorder are helpful. Good places for post-its are the bathroom mirror, the front door, the refrigerator handle, the purse and the light switch. Also, notes on the seats of favorite chairs and on the computer screen. God bless you!

Kirsten

Mo67
Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 2004

Thank you all for your informative emails. My Aunt was thrilled to hear that she is not alone and that is a normal reaction from Chemo.

She went to her oncologist yesterday to get the results from all her treatments ( yes I think it will be 12 tomorrow) The good news is that the spots on her liver have shrunk by half....and that the tumour on the colon has not gotten bigger...and that's a relief. She now knows she will be on chemo for a lot longer than she had thought ( maybe forever) She is on 5U and they are starting her on Avastin. She was told she might have a few more side effects ( She is nervous about possible bleeding) but in my past readings I understand Avastin is the new and improved chemo treatment. I am staying with her this week just to help out where I can and to really just keep her company. She is amazing and with all the news from yesterday is quite upbeat.

Thanks again to all for your help and kind words. I am hoping that in time she will join this group as you all have been so wonderful and have continually helped me with the unknown!

Kind Regards
Mo67

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