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Tamoxifen Brain - true or made up

4slurpee's picture
Posts: 41
Joined: Jul 2009

I used to be able to remember everything, multitask and keep my entire schedule in my head. It was easy to keep track of life. Now I feel as if I am falling apart. I have whiteboards on the back door to see what I am doing that day before I walk out of the door. I have forgotten appointments, etc. You get the drift. I have read something about Tamoxifen brain - similar along the lines of chemo. brain. I am short of a year out from chemo. and into Tamoxifen. Has anyone heard of this or experiencing this? It wasn't happening before diagnosis. It may just be that I am getting older (43). It is driving me nuts. Thanks! :-)

Posts: 145
Joined: Feb 2010

I had that when I was trying to take Femara, make sure you tell your Dr.

carkris's picture
Posts: 4554
Joined: Aug 2009

slurpee your smile is so nice. I dont think I have this, as my chemo brain is getting better. but I notice when I am stressed, I become exceedingly forgetful. more so than before. I wonder if it was the immediate menopause???

Posts: 3660
Joined: Aug 2009

Wish I could blame my lack of concentration, keeping on task, and so many similar situtations on Femara or the chemo. BUT I can't - I'm ADD.


TraciInLA's picture
Posts: 1994
Joined: Jul 2009

It's nice to see you, Slurpee. I'm right where you are -- almost exactly a year since my last chemo, and I've been on Tamoxifen for about 11 months.

Before I was diagnosed, I kept everything in my head, never forgot anything, EVER (much to my girlfriend's dismay :-). During chemo, I had MAJOR problems with short-term memory -- while it's nowhere near as bad now as it was during chemo, my memory definitely hasn't gone back to "normal" for me.

I don't know if it's still residual "chemo brain," or the effects of Tamoxifen messing with my estrogen levels, or the stress of being a breast cancer survivor, worrying about every ache and pain, every appointment, every test -- or a combination of all of the above.

I'm starting to think that this is part of what the "new normal" is going to be for me. I don't have any answers for you, Slurp, but I can empathize, and tell you that you're not dealing with this alone.


Sher43009's picture
Posts: 602
Joined: Nov 2009

You're not alone. I've been out of chemo 1 year this coming week and on tamoxifen for 8 months. I'm also on Herceptin--my last one is on Wed. I don't know what the cause of my memory loss but it's a lot worse then before treatment. Try to keep your sense of humor about it and keep the calander close by. Traci's right this is the "new normal" for now.


pinkflutterby's picture
Posts: 615
Joined: Jun 2009

I can't remember a thing! Used to have it all in my head. I am/was a paralegal my boss always commented on my great memory and now I can't remember a grocery list, phone number, dates, people names...............

sea60's picture
Posts: 2618
Joined: May 2010

Blame Chemo, Tamoxifen, Menopause, age...whatever the culprit, Post-it's are my best friend!

New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

You are not alone. I am 22 moths after Chemo 15 months on Tamoxefen and now on Arimidex. I have developed my own system and go with it. As Penny, I am much worst when under stress, pressure or when I am upset. Luck of estrogen probably causing additional problems.
Multitasking was a gift of mine. Majority of very successful people do not have multitasking ability or exceptional memory. So now after cancer treatment it is ok to be a regular person, nothing wrong in taking notes, keeping lists, writing everything down, having a calendar for appointments, and smiling "I am sorry, I do not remember and need to look it up". Do not worry about it, tell it your doctor who probably dismiss it anyway.
New Flower

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

I am on Tamoxifen...5 years...

Who were you again??? Where am I????

Hugs, Kathi

Posts: 633
Joined: Jul 2010

I'm 9 years out and still have major memory problems. Tamoxifen didn't help it either! LOL.
I'm STILL blaming Chemo for my crappy memory!!


Posts: 633
Joined: Jul 2010

I've never heard of the memory problems with Tamoxifen! Or maybe I just don't remember? LOL.

I have the very same problems. I always blamed the problem on "chemo" brain. But having just finished my 5 years on Tamoxifen, maybe that was also was part of the problem?? LOL!

I'm 44 and can't remember anything! I use to be so good at remembering dates, stories friends would tell me, etc. Funny story...I met a lady at a women's bible study last week. She looked REALLY familiar to me, but I couldn't come up with her name or where I knew her from. We kinda of gave each other those weird glances and I finally walked up to her and asked her if I knew her from somewhere. SHe said her name (which rang NO bells) and said had gone with me and some other ladies about a year ago to a women's faith conference and she was even at my house!! The women has been to my house and in my car, but I had/have NO memory of her whatsoever!!! LOL! Talk about feeling "CRAZY"!! LOL.

So...I totally can relate! I now make list and write down EVERYTHING in my calendar and check it every night and morning to see what I'm suppose to do/be/get for the day!! It's so pathetic!! LOL!


Pinkpower's picture
Posts: 437
Joined: Jun 2010

Definate not made up. Ive only been out of chemo since March but I am on Tamoxifen and my short term memory was affected during chemo and I dont think it has gotten any better. My kids and husband have to watch me, I keep calendars and alarm chks on my cell phone and I cant cook without the alarm set or I will burn the food. Wonderful isnt it?

Posts: 12
Joined: Oct 2010

I to am in a "chemo fog". Finished my chemo in April 2010 and still find myself just plain lost. Forgetting what I'm doing in the middle of doing it. Was told by drs. that it will pass. Hope it does. Good luck.

tgf's picture
Posts: 954
Joined: Mar 2009

I am so relieved to read that others are still having memory problems after chemo was over. My chemo ended about a year ago and I've been on tamoxifen for about 6 months ... and I guess I was expecting my memory to be just fine after chemo ... but I can honestly say that if anything ... it's worse. Of course I am nearly 67 ... and terrified it's alzheimers or worse. It will be a relief if I can "blame" it on tamoxifen.

Saturday morning when I got up and took my pills ... but as soon as I swallowed them I realized I'd taken my night-time pills ... xanax, benadryl, effexor etc. I managed to run to the grocery and home ... then sat in my recliner and was out like a light for 3-4 hours. Then Saturday night I didn't know what pills I should take ... but I knew I didn't need to be up all night ... so I took another xanax and benadryl ... and slept through the night. But ... then I got up Sunday morning and forgot to take ANY pills. My emotions started to get the best of me around noon ... weepy, edgy, angry etc. ... then it dawned on me that I hadn't taken my drugs (which included blood pressure medicine). I swear I'm losing it. I work full time ... and some of the work is fairly detailed and boy do I have a problem with that. Stuff I used to be able to do in 5 minutes takes me 5 hours to figure out what I'm doing and HOW to do it. It gets so frustrating at times I just want to run out the door and not come back. But ... I LOVE my job ... and it really shouldn't be this stressful ... but it is. And I am terrified of alzheimers!


Posts: 710
Joined: Mar 2010

As you. I also have white boards I write every appt. on, calendars, and lists then I forget to check lists, calendars, boards. I have double posted deposits in my checking acct. I have thought I mailed bills, just to discover they were still in the desk drawer. I dream often, and have a hard time distinguishing dream from reality.

I have forgotten to help my son study for a test, and he makes a bad grade. I know if I would have spent that time with him he would have made a good grade. This one really effects me, because I feel like a bad mom. Sad thing is I have signs posted on my wall with the test, and date, and I still forget what day it is thinking I have plenty of time.

cahjah75's picture
Posts: 2631
Joined: Jun 2010

memory problems while going through peri menopause (age 45-47). I forget why I walk into a room sometimes! I have to retrace my steps to remember what I was going to look for or do. I call them Senior Moments. lol I'm still in chemo so don't know whether it will get worse. I certainly hope not )-:

Lighthouse_7's picture
Posts: 1566
Joined: Jan 2010

I ended chemo Oct. 09 almost a year ago and still have chemo brain.
Everything I've read about it says it can last for years, so don't worry. It
has gotten a little better so that's encouraging.

Boppy_of_6's picture
Posts: 1138
Joined: Apr 2010

I have just been out of chemo since July so I agree with you all. I do not remember what I agree with but I agree! lol God Bless
(((Hugs))) Janice

TraciInLA's picture
Posts: 1994
Joined: Jul 2009

I clicked on Boppy's "reply" so I could reply to something...what was I going to say? Who was it who posted this? What did she say?

Oh, da*n -- now I have to open another Internet Explorer tab, so I can go back and reread the whole thread, so I can remember what I was going to comment on. I'm getting kind of hungry -- I wonder if there's any ice cream....

(that's how my ChemoBrain/TamoxifenBrain/BreastCancerStressBrain goes. :-)


carkris's picture
Posts: 4554
Joined: Aug 2009

yeah sometimes I click on a thread and think I didnt read it, then I see I posted a response! The other day I sprayed my hair with my husband's deodorant, instead of hairspray(and I looked) never mind i had finally gotten it right and was going to a wedding. Yikes. I still fell better than I did. There used to be major holes now they are just small!

crselby's picture
Posts: 438
Joined: Oct 2009

Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. I mean, lower estrogen DOES cause memory loss!

Perimenopause,= age 47 ish, was short and I was postmenopausal before I knew it. My point is, my estrogen dropped rapidly. And my memory went right out the door, too. I used to be known for my steel trap memory, impressing people while playing trivia games, with my recall of minor facts I'd read about. Menopause changed that, and it happened rapidly, as I said.

Then, 12 years later comes the need for Tamoxifen, and I can't remember new information for 5 seconds! It's frustrating and depressing, but what's worse is I am having trouble.doing my job! I teach classes at a community college. Never had a problem before breast cancer. But now I have actually shown up for class without my books or, once, the video I was going to show. I had to ask my son to bring it to the campus. Humiliating. I'm afraid I 'll forget to show up for a class as I have forgotten to show up for appointments!! I have forgotten all about some report deadlines, the kind I've been doing twice a year for the last four years! My boss loves it when I screw up so she can berate me (she does it to everybody when they err.)

Can I get a medical disability retirement if I can no longer do my job properly?

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

I have noticed minor things i forgot..and I am on top of it all the time. I hit 51 this year thought due to that..hehe

I'll have to pay more attention...

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2015

I have been on Tamoxifen for 4 years and did not undergo chemo. I am having memory issues as well. I used to be able to keep everything in my brain, now I have o write things down. I struggle with word recall and names. There are so many side effects of tamoxifen, but memory loss is not listed.  It is driving me crazy. I am 45 years old and feel like my memory is worse than my parents....ugh

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2015

Hello kelly,


I have been on Tamoxifen for 3 years now. I too am having severe memory loss and recently started having hallucinations. I've done some research online and have found testamonials from other women (and some men) who are having the same difficulties. There have also been studies on the subject and it is scientifically known that patients taking tamoxifen are experiencing dementia. I still haven't found anything indicating that it's reversible after one stops taking it. I suggest talking to your oncologist about these concerns and perhaps weaning you off and trying something else. Everone should do research on the drugs that are being prescribed to them before taking them. I plan on getting off it before it's too late.

Good luck, Kelly.

dawn dunbar
Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2017

Omg I had breast cancer stage 3. Went through everything mastocomy , lumpectomy,  chemo , got immune more chemo, then radiation 6 months . I am going through infusions shots ,exstame oral pills. I been reporting my memory issues since chemo they are getting worse I couldn't remember pizza in the oven ,forgot the dog at the store tied up on a pole ,over flowed the tub forgot it was running ,forgot I let a coffee pot on for a few days u till I seen it was burning , I'm afraid have to be watched everyday and it's so debilitating I cry and no one understands and I'm glad this has spell check because my brain don't spell correct anymore and the high light of this story is my Aetna claim closed because they needed to know how bad my memory is and closed my claim I'm about to loss everything I worked for for 20 years I have not got my long-term disability money in 6 months I'm hungry and ready to be eviction notice now homeless still have not got reconsrution surgery yet who goes through his ???????????????????????????????


Apaugh's picture
Posts: 554
Joined: Aug 2016

your local American Cancer Society or to your onc/hospital and there are counclers there that can help guide you.



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