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Is Chemo Brain Real? A Cancer Survivor’s Take

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Published on January 17, 2017

Is chemo brain real or just an excuse?  Pancreatic cancer survivor, Anne Gruzdowich, shares her experience with chemo brain, referring to it as “a reality”.  Chemo brain is a real side effect of chemotherapy, and Anne suggests being kind to yourself.  Although chemo brain is an unsettling effect, Anne learned to tell herself, “It’s okay right now that I don’t remember.”

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

One of the things that I experienced that I didn’t expect, and I kept initially joking with people — oh, I can’t remember this, I must have chemo brain. And I have a good friend who’s a psychiatrist, and she’s had some cancer experience. And she said to me, Anne, it’s a reality. it really exists. It’s a real condition.

And the more that I talked to people, the more I realized that I needed to give myself some slack on this, that it wasn’t just my age, and it wasn’t other circumstances. The chemotherapy was affecting my memory. I would be down at one of the end of the house, and I’d have a thought. And I’d get down to the other end of the house, and I would have no idea why I was standing there or what I was going to write down or what I was going to do. And I might remember it 15 minutes later, or I might never remember. And that unsettling for me, because I’ve always prided myself on this great memory.

But it was also that I’d talk to others, and say no, this is a real condition. This exists. And to let myself say, it’s okay right now that I don’t remember. Now I’m a couple weeks past taking chemotherapy. I’m hoping in the next four to six weeks that this will all resolve. They tell me it does, so I’m hoping that I’m going to back to remembering from one end of the house. But I want to encourage people that I think that it’s a real condition and to kind of understand yourself and give yourself that it’s okay that I don’t remember that. it’s just part of taking chemotherapy.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.