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How long does it last?

Posts: 14
Joined: Apr 2014

I thank God that I'm starting to feel better months after finishing my chemo and radiation. I have a question for those of you who have been there. How long does it take for "chemo brain" to go away? Also, how long did it take you to feel like most of your strength was regained? It sounds like we never seem to feel like our "old self" again but maybe as good as you can feel? Thanks for your input.  Smile

Posts: 6561
Joined: Oct 2010

NO advice since I had only radiation-I am sure you will get much advice from others...



Posts: 579
Joined: Dec 2010

Some pick up quite fast, others months and even years.  I feel I have never had my energy fully return after four years but am much, much better.  Start to exercise slowly, very slowly and gently build up.  Any type you like.  Even light weights while watching the TV.  PLEASE CONSIDER beginners Yoga.  Walk a little then a little more.  Healthy eating in big quantities until you like what you eat then reduce amount.  You feel different once you mount up the vegetables and fruit.  Pay more for the best, make easy delicious soups.  Spice things up with spices and herbs.  Home made bread honestly takes no time these days.  It was easy for me as my hubby had a heart attack while I had breast cancer and changed his diet immediately.  Plenty of fish, make your own sauces.  I make asparagus soup and use it for a fish sauce, really good.  Ranting.  Have someone you can talk to and trust.  Upbeat people are better to have around you to keep you positive. Good luck.

Posts: 653
Joined: Oct 2012

I had minimal chemo brain -- I didn't think I had it, but my friends said I had it a little.  A much younger woman I work with at school still claims to have it some, although I wonder as some in her extended family have memory issues -- even the kid.

I went back to my job at school full time about two weeks after I finished radiation.   (I had a few burns that needed to heal.)  I did fine because I paced myself -- no evening activities during the week.  I still tend to do that because I think it is smart.  

I finished my treatments the end of September 2012.  Often it all seems like it did not happen, until I see the scars or a fw other small things.  I am thankful to be that far along.

We all get through this in our own time and way.  Mental outlook is a key. 

faith_trust_and_a_little_bit_of_chemotherapy's picture
Posts: 319
Joined: Jun 2010

It's truly a very individual experience.

I just celebrated my 4th birthday post treatment and can honestly say I feel pretty darn good.  

I am an elementary school teacher and was determined to work during my treatments.  I took off Fridays for infusions and used the weekends to rest up, too, my radiation appointments were scheduled after school.  For me, I needed and wanted to maintain my routine.  I continued to teach, plan, grade, and attend most of my meetings.  

As for chemobrain, the fog manifested itself for a brief period for me.  

  • There was some minor word confusion, the ladder was an umbrella and my daughter looked perplexed when I kept pointing to the damned thing and insisted she carry the umbrella out and set it up next to the garage for me.  
  • Also, all months beginning with the letter J were January for a time.  
  • The most disturbing to me, however, was while driving I would remind myself repeatedly and aloud that the green light means I can go, the green light means I can go, the green light means I can go.

If I had to score the impact of chemo brain on my cognitive processing it was probably a 4 out of 10.  And as slowly as the side effect appeared during my chemotherapy, it disappeared upon the completion of treatment.  

I am an avid fan of Sudokus and was rather proficient at completing them, but when I was diagnosed and while receiving chemotherapy, I could not concentrate long enough to complete a puzzle...although my morning efforts were my best during that time.  I ended up purchasing 2 additional copies of the same book just to monitor myself.

Of course, I still reserve the right to misspeak and blame it on chemobrain.  I'll have to remind my daughter to keep a ladder in her car for inclement weather...just to keep her on her toes.


jendrey's picture
Posts: 377
Joined: Sep 2009

And here I was thinking I must be the only one with number confusion!!!  It's really bad when someone counts back change to me...the numbers just keep gong 'round and around in my head and hold no special significance even though I do realize that the numbers being said are representative of money.


Thank you for the validation!




CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

First chemo, I had no chemo brain.  Last year, I did 6 treatments of taxotere, herceptin and perjeta.  I completed the taxotere, but I am on herceptin/perjeta until they stop working.

Anyway, I have definitely had to deal with chemo brain this past year.  On taxotere, it was the worst.  I couldn't find the right words for things (aphasia), my memory was often not up to par, and I was having trouble with grammar (noun/verb agreements).  This was something I never had a problem with before.  It was weird.

I finished taxotere in about September or October of 2013.  I am getting better (slowly).  My memory is definitely improved.

Interestingly, noone noticed my chemo brain except my husband and my daughter.  Anxiety can make memory recall slower, so I have tried just to laugh about it and not to stress too much.  I don't know if I will ever get back to where I was but I am just happy to be in remission again. Cyber hugs!!!!

Posts: 14
Joined: Apr 2014

I can't thank you all enough for all of your input and information. It has truly helped me feel like I'm not alone in my situation. I now know that time and patience are my greatest friends. God bless you all and I pray the very best outcome in all of our medical challenges.

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