One of the most frustrating long term side effects for me has been the loss of short term memory. I recently read the following on my oncologist's website:
"Research has demonstrated that chemotherapy can have a negative impact on cognitive functioning. Long-term (5-year) cancer survivors who had received chemotherapy scored significantly lower on neuropsychologic tests, particularly in the area of verbal memory, compared with those treated with local therapy only (i.e. surgery). The patients who received chemotherapy also reported greater problems with working memory and were more likely to score among the lowest on the Neuropsychological Performance Index. Furthermore, some survivors may experience long-term cognitive deficits associated with systemic chemotherapy."
Not very encouraging. And on top of that, researchers are not really sure the actual cause of the memory loss and therefore have no helpful ways to treat it!
I recently asked my oncologist if there was anything I could do to help with the memory loss. He looked at me with his familiar shy smile and said, "I usually hand my patients a pad and a pen... but you are young, you can most likely re-train your brain." (I feel hopeful...) He recommended a trip to Target to pick up my new favorite pastime...
Doctor's Orders: Play the Memory Game twice a day. Every day. This will help re-train the neurons responsible for short term memory. In the meantime, write everything down!
Things I have learned in dealing with memory loss:
1. Yes, Mark already told you that... you just didn't remember.
2. Make a list of the Christmas gifts you receive because you won't remember what you received or who you received it from when you sit down to write thank you notes.
3. No, you won't remember, even when you think "I'll remember this", write it down!!
4. When a "good idea" comes to you, write it down immediately. Good ideas are fleeting and they may not come back!
5. When speaking, always have notes... you won't remember what you were planning to say.
6. .... oops... sorry, I forgot what #6 was...