Saturday, August 30, 2014

Having Lunch with an Uncle and a New Term.

I finally had lunch with my uncle, who also happens to be the last one I have. He has been struggling with cancer and its treatments for several years now. He happened to mention that his chemo treatments affect his brain. My cousin explained it as "chemo brain". He confesses to not being able to find the right words he wants to say or remember things.

According the MayoClinic, it can also be called 'chemo fog' and is a condition that affects cognitive impairment or dysfunction. They also state that it is not solely a side effect of chemotherapy.

Here are some of the symptoms the clinic mentions: short attention span, difficulty learning something new, difficulty multitasking, fatigue, confusion -- and the list goes on. There may be other causes for this: hormone treatments, fatigue, anemia, depression, medication, and other factors.

The clinic mentions risk factors that increase this memory issue with cancer survivors: •Brain cancer, •Chemotherapy given directly to the central nervous system, •Chemotherapy combined with whole-brain radiation, •Higher doses of chemotherapy or radiation, •Radiation therapy to the brain, •Younger age at time of cancer diagnosis and treatment. You can choose to discuss these issues with your doctor - if so keep a diary of when these memory lapses happen, what medication you are taking, and write down your questions when you think of them. Best to bring a person with you when you go to help you with the information.

Whether your doctor will prescribe anything or not, there are ways to train your brain. 1 - Repetitive exercises to train your brain. 2 - Tracking and understanding what influences memory problems. 3 - Learning coping strategies. 4 - Stress-relief techniques. Plus they suggest lifestyle and home remedies: •Control what you can about your working environment. *Prepare yourself for success. *Stay organized. *Clear your mind of distractions. *Take frequent breaks. *Exercise your Exercise your brain. *Exercise your body. There may be alternative medicines to take but always check with your doctor first. Lastly don't be afraid to talk to people about this problem. We all have memory issues from time to time. Get help from a support group. You don't have to go it alone.


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