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Chemo Brain

Posts: 134
Joined: May 2012

How long does it last? And is is usual for it to get worse the farther from treatment? I'm sure everyone is different but some generalities?

Hubby has not had chemo (cisplatin ) since June 19 and been off pain meds (diladid and fentyl patch) since early October. Sort term memory's getting worse. He can't remember anything. Even forgot that the windshield was shattered on his trip home the other night. Said he knew it when it happened because it threw glass fragments in on him while he was driving. But when he got home 15 minutes later, he didn't remember to tell me. When he went to get in the truck the next morning, I saw the hole in his windshield and had to work hard at remembering what happened. That's the extreme example. Other little things like thought that have a major impact -- like losing track of time to the point of not feeding himself (still peg tube dependent for about 80 percent of nutrition)

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or suggestions.


Billie67's picture
Posts: 843
Joined: Jul 2012

That does sound a little bit more than what I've experienced or heard of in relation to chemo brain. Mine is more about forgetting what I went to the store for or telling someone a story and not remembering names of people or things in my story. I've put the wrong things in the fridge or forgotten to do something super important during the day that only the night before said I was going to do.
It might be worth mentioning to your husbands doctor and be sure to give them the example you've given us. If by the rare chance it's caused by something else you'd want to get a head start on treating it. Can't hurt to check it out. Then again, I know only what I experience so others may come on here and tell you differently and that they too can relate to your description. Good luck and keep us posted.
Take care,

ToBeGolden's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Aug 2010

Your husband's forgetfulness appears to be lasting longer than normal. I would not finding it too disturbing if it were for just a few days post treatment or hospitalization. I would mention the problem to his doctor.

Although he is post chemo, is he on other medications? Do they sedate him? Just things to consider.

Finally, people remember what is important to them. My wife remembers the names of actors/actresses. I remember streets and bus routes. A hypothesis: your husband is so focused on his cancer journey, things like a smashed windshield are no longer important enough to remember. Does he remember details of his cancer treatment?

Or what is important to him? Is he a sports fan? Does he remember who won last Sunday's (or Saturday's) game?

Sometimes, I will watch a TV program and have no idea of the plot. Other times I will watch a (different) program and can remember every detail. It depends upon whether you watch or just stare at.

I, of course, don't know whether your husband is experiencing memory challenges. It is a question that needs at least some professional input to resolve. I am just suggesting some observations that might be made. Rick.

phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4674
Joined: Mar 2012

a little worse than before treatment when I blamed it on aging.

I think that Rick hit on something, interests...what interests him might be easier to remember than what doesn't...that could be part of it...as well as his mind just being other places since he finished treatment.

Also wondering about nutrition as part of it. He's been on the tube for a long time...is he still using the nutritional stuff? I wonder how good that really is in the long run.

Just thinking there may be more than one cause of forgetfulness...like a combo of age, chemo, nutrition and interests (tho a shattered windshield would have scared me enough to probably remember that...but a small crack, I'm sure I'd forget by the time I got home).


Posts: 1914
Joined: May 2012

Hi Deb!
I would defineately check with the medical staff on this one. But saying this could stress be a part of it. I know for me some days are great....others I just let slide. My filing system is non existant for now. I think this is an excellant subject that is relevant to discuss...keep us posted. Warmest wishes sent to you both ! Katie

Posts: 134
Joined: May 2012

I typed a big long response and the cyberspace monster ate it.

Abbreviated second response:

No drugs involved, not even aspirin
Nutrition is possible. he is not remembering to eat while I'm at work and the extra stuff he tries to eat isn't working. He was making good progress on extra food up until a couple of weeks ago but now the taste buds are wonky again and the saliva still nonexistent.
Memory problem seems limited to short term. He asked if I thought he had age related dementia. He's 67.

I remember what his chemo doc said when he was having so much trouble during treatment " your side effects are not uncommon. However, they are severe and lingering." maybe we have more of that with recovery.

He has appointments with ENT and chemo doc Tuesday. We will definiitely talk about these issues.

Oh, and he just got around to telling me he has lost 6 pounds in the last 10 days. He said he forgot to tell me. He lost 45 pounds during treatment and went into treatment only about 15 pounds overweight. He now weighs 5 pounds less than his lowest weight during treatment. He is just skin and bones so I had not noticed the extra weight loss.

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement.


Mikemetz's picture
Posts: 403
Joined: Nov 2011

I've seen studies that say chemo brain can last five years or more, a lot longer than what I was told during treatments.

Mine was a sure two+ years and has diminished a bit, but having turned 60 recently, it's hard to know exactly why I can't remember what I had for breakfast by the time 10am rolls around.


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