Help focusing on conversations?


Question from Lily: How can I better concentrate my full attention on what someone is saying? Since chemotherapy, I've really had a difficult time focusing.
Answers - Patricia A. Ganz, M.D. It sounds like you may be having some stress related to your treatment and your cancer experience. Many patients tell us that one of the most stressful times is actually when they finish their treatment, more than when they're on it. All of the sudden they feel out of control, nothing's protecting them from the cancer, and they may not be seeing their physician as frequently as they were. Having this extra stress may be a distraction and prevent you from concentrating when someone is talking to you. You may also feel that you have different priorities after cancer treatment and that inconsequential things that someone may be saying to you may not be as important. It's also clear that if you're tired, if you haven't slept well, or if you're not eating and exercising properly, that these may affect your ability to concentrate.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. One important communication tip to help you talk to the people you want to talk to and avoid or minimize the amount of time listening to people who might bring you down is through communication like email, letters, voicemail. With this type of communication, you can respond at your own convenience instead of immediately. Avoid the telephone or get call waiting. Many people are calling you to talk and offer you help. If you can avoid disruptions of work you might be doing and deal with the phone calls and emails during a break, you can save some energy. One place people go to connect with each other for support and to build energy and a sense of community with others who share their concerns is the Breastcancer.org discussion boards and chat rooms.

On Wednesday, August 16, 2006, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Thinking and Memory ChallengesPatricia A. Ganz, M.D. and  moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about the memory and concentration challenges that can happen during and after breast cancer treatment.

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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