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JKMDean's picture
Posts: 13
Joined: Sep 2011

Hi everyone. I haven't been on for a while, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
I have a question that I have been afraid to ask because I'm afraid nobody else has experienced this and then I'll know for sure that I'm just crazy.
I finished radiation in September of 2011 of left side of head and neck. I had my gallbladder removed shortly thereafter, which added to my recovery time. I'm feeling pretty good by now although I may be tired forever. However, my memory seems to be failing! I'm ontly 39 but I am more scatter brained than ever. I lose my keys, lose track of time, can't remember stuff... I make cakes and it is not unusual now for me to leave out one or two ingredients...
My husband gets so frustrated with me because he says I "lay stuff around" but before it was never a problem. I always knew exactly where I laid it.
My mom tells me that it's normal because I'm getting older... is that it??
I'm just wondering if it is the radiation or if she is right, that I'm aging. Maybe the radiation aged me. I am just so frustrated... any advice??

Billie67's picture
Posts: 843
Joined: Jul 2012

Just wondering if you are anxious or depressed? I know that can mess with your concentration and memory quite a bit. At 39 I'd be a little surprised if you were becoming age related forgetful. I know we can also suffer from what they call "chemo brain" I just don't know how long that goes on.
I finished treatment 7/2012 and I do find myself forgetting things that normally I would remember. I blame mine on being super tired all of the time. I'm hopeful that will get better too as we just discovered that my thyroid is quitting on my due to rads. I've started about 1 1/2 weeks ago on meds for that and I know it takes a while to kick in and also to get the right dosage.
Good luck and don't be so hard on yourself, I'm sure that doesn't help the situation.

CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4318
Joined: May 2012


Being tired forever can not help things. Have you had your thyroid checked? Mine is border line so I am in a holding pattern for awhile. Being tired is a problem I have (this is a warning to all H&N warriors who see me driving with my eyes closed). As I get in better shape my stamina seems to be improving. Also, (good) nutrition is playing a huge part in feeling more rested.

I often blame memory lapses on radiation brain, but I think it was the entire trauma combined that takes a toll on mental and physical well being. It just takes a while to recover. I do not know how some of these H&N cats work through treatments or are running marathons with PEG tubes in, we are all different (in so many ways)



phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4673
Joined: Mar 2012

to do with forgetfullness. I'm where I can blame it on age...however, when I started night and swing shifts 14 years ago, my memory went to he** in a handbasket...now, it's even worse. I too lose stuff, forget I'm cooking, go to the grocery store for 2 things and come home with 10, but NOT the two things I went for...

I also received a book after I finished treatment that talks about life after cancer...it says right in it that fatigue...memory problems...etc can last for a year. You are also in the peri-menopausal time of your life...usually at 39 it's a gradual thing, and hardly noticable...but since you have been thru cancer treatment, it may be more apparent.

Talk to your Dr. (your GP or your Gyno)..about this specifically, they may have something out there that can help you out.


ToBeGolden's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Aug 2010

Everyone remembers what is important to them (at the moment). To be blunt: looking death in the eye rearranges priorities. Where are those keys? Who cares? When the ambulance carted me off to the ER because I couldn't breathe, my wife forgot to bring my jacket. It was November. Should I be upset with her forgetfulness?

Do you remember the people you love? You realize that those poor souls with advanced Alzheimer's can't do that. I don't think your keys are too offended when they are misplaced. Here's the test: Do they work when they are in your hand again? Well see. your keys have forgiven you. Rick.

Posts: 344
Joined: Sep 2012

I'm just the caregiver and this whole thing has traumatized my brain. I was leaving for work the other morning...couldn't find my coffee . Finally found it in the refrigerator. I guess I though I was putting the creamer away but instead put my mug of coffee in there. So, you might just be normal for all you went through. oh, and Phrannie is also on target, peri menopause really messes with your mind. But, as Rick said you can remember your loved ones so that's a good thing.


Posts: 1914
Joined: May 2012

Hey there !
I think this is something we don't give much thought to and we should. What your feeling and what is happening to you is very normal. Though someone mentioned to keep tabs on that thryoid level is a good idea. I think myself most of us go thru post tramatic stress syndrome. How can we not ? Depression ? This is a bit different. I haven't asked my doc's about this one yet but intend to. Our lives changed over night...and we've learned to accept things (forced to) that in the beginning didn't make sense. Accepting things as they come and being brave enough to admit them, and then move forward is what we needed to do. We'll all get through this. But I wouldn't just blow it off as old age....not at your age. Know you belong to a group of people living this, and it is very normal. Katie I include care givers in on this one too...!

NJShore's picture
Posts: 423
Joined: Nov 2012


I'm new here, my husband has stage4 tonsil cancer. i am a cancer survivor (cervical 9 years) and raised 2 kids by myself and your issue is right up my alley.

Sit back and give yourself credit, look at how much information you had to learn to fight cancer, under that kind of stress -- how many details have you needed to manage, all while recovering from a life threatening disease -- and before this I bet you already had a full life. If that isn't the definition of stress I am not sure what is.. If it is age related I think it could be exacerbated by stress, which worrying about just adds to it. Therefore my advice is, find solutions to the things you misplace most..a pretty candy dish by the door to hold your keys? A post it note in your pocket of the days to do list? Tools that will help you til you get comfortable again with the less critical information.

I work in IT, I was a full time employee, a full time student and a divorced mom of two, While i fought my cancer, I learned quickly the brain can only keep a certain amount of info readily available... The brain will prioritize... When your keys are the most important thing -- you'll know where they are!

Have a great week. ~k

Greend's picture
Posts: 678
Joined: Feb 2010

Did you have chemo? If so then welcome to Chemo Brain.

fisrpotpe's picture
Posts: 1349
Joined: Aug 2010

i had chemo .... so sometimes i use the "chemo fog" as excuse

i had radiation... so sometimes i use "rad brain" as excuse

i was 38 when i had treatment....

no matter what the reason is, there is nothing they can do about it. so sometimes i use the thought that the words "you have cancer" has changed my thoughts about everything for the rest of my life. that being said i don't think my priority's are recalling where i left something.

it's all about accepting what your "new normal" is. go out have fun and then have more fun.


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