Mercy Offers Support for Cancer Patients Suffering Chemo Brain

Posted 2/22/2018 in News

~~Centerville, IA - Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment sometimes feel they aren’t thinking clearly or wonder if it’s just them. It’s not. Following chemotherapy, almost 50% of patients are affected by Chemo Brain, but the good news is there is support to cope and recover from this annoying condition.

To help cancer patients or survivors and their families learn about chemo brain and its effects, Mercy Medical Center is hosting two free workshops, Managing the Effects of Chemo Brain on March 8th and April 8th at 5:00 PM in the conference room. Speech pathologist Kamela Kleppe Yeager from the John Stoddard Cancer Center will present the program. Yeager will help participants and their families understand what is wrong and provide tools to help cope and improve cognitive function. “It’s typically about controlling your environment and compensating for it,” she said. "I strongly believe if you understand what's wrong, it's a lot easier to do something about it.” 

Chemo Brain is a relatively new term starting to be understood. It refers to cognitive changes that occur as a side effect of chemotherapy. Although the causes aren’t fully known, brain scans show that changes in the brain do occur during chemotherapy. People experiencing Chemo Brain describe it as “brain fog” or as one blogger described it “a little bit like having one or two drinks too many but you don’t want to be drunk.”

The symptoms of Chemo Brain include:
• Foggy headed
• Poor memory
• Trouble concentrating or multi-tasking
• Short attention span
• Slow thinking or responses
• Disorganized or poor planning
• Finding the right words or transposing numbers

Although patients are frustrated by the effects of chemo brain, it's important to understand they aren’t alone and that most symptoms improve significantly over time.