One of the effects of being treated for cancer is what’s known as ‘chemo brain’. It’s real, not imagined, and some reckon it could impact as many as 50% of chemotherapy patients. These are a few examples of what I’d describe as chemo brain:
- Forgetting things that I usually have no trouble recalling (memory lapses)
- Trouble concentrating (having a short attention span or ‘spacing out’)
- Trouble remembering details like names or dates
- Trouble multi-tasking (especially when it’s someone else asking me to do something I’m not keen to do)
- Taking longer to finish things (disorganized, slower thinking and processing)
- Trouble remembering common words (starting a sentence, but being unable to find the right words to … umm … umm … finish, that’s it!)
Personally, I’ve found it weird and occasionally a little worrying. I’ve usually prided myself in having a good memory and being able to multitask. I enjoy word games and puzzles. Leading a multi-congregational, multi-staff-church has meant being able to keep many balls in the air at once. Teaching and preaching most weeks for over two decades has required me to think quickly on my feet, especially as I only use brief notes. I’m hoping this will be a temporary symptom rather than the new normal!
In the meantime I will keep exercising my brain, eat more vegetables (apparently it helps), keep up the crosswords, go for walks in the fresh air, drink coffee (not sure if it helps or not), read good books, use my diary, keep better notes, file things carefully, spend time talking with people, try to increase my physical exercise, make sure I get enough sleep, ask for help when I need it, have a bit of fun with friends and family, blog a little, pray that God will heal me, and try not to let a bit of mental fog here and there bother me too much!
Sorry, what was I talking about again?
(first published in macarisms.com on 10/8/12)