Will "chemo brain" go away?

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Question from Pooh: Does your brain ever return to 'normal' after chemotherapy?
Answers - Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S. There is clinical research currently being done in the hopes of figuring out what 'chemo brain' is. One of the studies which Johns Hopkins is doing is looking at cognitive functioning for women during and after chemotherapy. One of the mysteries is that there are also patients who have not had chemotherapy, who are complaining of the same symptoms. That tells us that we need to do more investigation as to what could be triggering the type of memory loss and cognitive functioning that patients are describing. One theory being tossed around currently is whether or not women diagnosed and treated with breast cancer are experiencing Post-Traumatic Syndrome, similar to soldiers who have gone to war. I personally like that concept of thinking because we have all had a battle with breast cancer.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. And during that whole battle, there have been so many disruptions in the normal rhythm and flow of your life; so many intrusions, both physical and emotional. Whenever your boat is rocked so many different times in different directions without expecting it or knowing what is next, it is not surprising that your ability to be in command of all of your thoughts and mental abilities will suffer in some way. I have had many of my patients during the course of treatment make many commitments for a particular holiday like Thanksgiving, and when the holiday arrives, they are reminded by their friends that they were to be in 5 places at once. A lot of this does get better, but your return to a life that you feel is normal requires so many adjustments. This one is a significant challenge to face.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Tackling Fear featured Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S., Marisa Weiss, M.D. and moderator Gwen Darien, Editor-in-Chief, MAMM Magazine, answering your questions about how to manage breast cancer fears.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in June 2001.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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