Friday, January 21, 2011

New Pastime

Cancer produces a lot of side effects, and cancer treatment produces even more. Most of the side effects are  short lasting or limited by the duration of treatment. However, there are some that are long term and require adjustments to be made as you live with them.

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...


  1. oooh, I'll come play memory with you! :)

  2. Hey Laura,

    I am sorry!! I know it must drive you crazy!! My mom had a stroke and that with age causes alot of short term memory loss. She least if it bothers me...I will forget it pretty quickly!! LOL!!!

    BUT...I tell her...I have ALOT of the same stuff and I have NO excuse!!!

    You will be fine!!!


    ♥♥ Love ya!! ♥♥
    C.O.L.E.'s Foundation
    (Caring Openly, Loving Eternally)
    Sandy Daron

  3. So true, You have to.. mental exertion will help.

  4. My girls LOVE Memory! Let's play soon!

  5. And you still haven't lost that great sense of humor! Write this down: You are hilarious!
    Praying for you and yours. I just sent Larry to Target for Memory, and I haven't had chemo. I'll just say it's for when we have grandkids!

  6. Jim will begin playing "Memory" tonight! At least I can tell him Laura says it's the chemo... Thanks for still being so transparent!

  7. Laura,
    I hadn't read your blog in a while so I was catching up. This post struck me as hilarious because just yesterday, while you were giving the announcements at the 11:30 service, I turned to my cousin and said, "I am always impressed with how easily she remembers every detail without looking at notes or anything!" We both looked at the back wall at the same time to see if there were notes up there but nope. We were admiring your awesome memory!!! (((hugs))) You are amazing!