Multiple Myeloma an incurable disease, but I have spent the last 25 years in remission using a blend of conventional oncology and evidence-based nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle therapies from peer-reviewed studies that your oncologist probably hasn't told you about.
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There are many names for it- chemobrain, chemofog, the formal phrase is chemotherapy-induced cognitive dysfunction. But they all mean the same thing to the patient- poor quality-of-life.
The long-term side effects caused by chemotherapy such as chemobrain are as life-changing as surviving the cancer itself.
Surviving multiple myeloma (MM) is a double-edged sword. It feels great to “manage an incurable cancer” and be alive. But the short, long-term and late stage side effects of toxic therapy such as chemobrain can destroy you quality-of-life.
For years, oncology has been telling MM patients that chemobrain is a short-term side effect. I’ve read studies blaming chemobrain on the multiple myeloma itself.
The fact is that all these types of collateral damage are long-term side effects that often progress as we age. I often wonder if chemobrain predisposes cancer survivors to dementia or even Alzheimer’s Disease.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Chemotherapy causes collateral damage. The kind of damage that doesn’t heal in kids. So why should adults think that they can heal?
The studies linked and excerpted before confirm what I have known since the late nineties. Toxic chemotherapy damages your brain function. Aggressive, high-dose toxic chemotherapy damages your brain severely.
The good news is that the brain is plastic. Chemobrain can heal. You can teach an old dog new tricks…
I can’t tell you how my memory, word-recall, executive function, multi-tasking etc. would be had it not been for my aggressive therapy for multiple myeloma from 1995-97. But I can tell you that my brain works better now that it has in the past 20 years.
I am a long-term multiple myeloma survivor and MM cancer coach. Full disclosure: I work at it- lifestyle, nutrition, supplementation, and more. And you can too.
For more information about healing your chemobrain, nerve damage, heart damage, etc scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.
“…It’s not so awful that I can’t drive, travel, or enjoy life. But I’ve long stopped trying to hide the fact that I fish for names, can’t remember words, and show up for events on the wrong day. It’s just one more thing to blame on cancer. “Sorry, I have chemo brain!” I’m apt to say. And it’s not like I’m making it up. It’s true. It’s real. And it’s sometimes really annoying. Oh well, I’m alive…
So today when I stumble on an article in OncLive (Chemobrain—It’s Real, It’s Complex, and the Science Is Still Evolving), I am relieved. Just in case someone doubts me, I can send them a link and say I’m not making this up…
So what is someone with chemo brain to do? If you’re looking for a magic pill, it doesn’t exist. Exercise and socialization helps. For me, I write myself a lot of notes and try to do better with looking at my calendar many times a day. I tell people I have chemo brain and that’s why I forget stuff. And, well, I move forward in life, enjoy and make apologies when I mess up…”
“Although cancer patients frequently experience short-term cognitive deficits, little is known about how long these deficits last or whether they worsen over time. Now, data from a large national sample suggest that cognitive deficits may persist long-term…
When compared with matched individuals who were without cancer, long-term cancer survivors performed worse on a test of processing speed, attention, and learning and working memory involving executive functions domains. Cancer survivors experience more frequent problems with memory and confusion, even after adjusting for confounders, such as age and education level…
“A lot of the recent literature on cognitive dysfunction has been conducted in breast cancer patients, and we wanted to expand upon that and look at different cancer types-” “In this group, cognitive testing was done in those aged 60 and above, and they were long-term survivors who were on average 12 years since their diagnosis…
Mindful of Impact on Cognition
“This study highlights that certain types of cognitive changes in older cancer survivors may be persistent once therapy ends,” she said. “In this study, survivors aged 60 to 75 seemed to have more of a detrimental score on cognitive testing when compared to participants without cancer than did survivors older than 75.”
Although it is too soon to understand how this information will affect current therapeutic approaches to older patients, Dr. Markham said: “Clearly, we should be mindful of the impact of our treatments on cognition in patients of all ages, including the advanced age population.”
Before chemo fog, I would have laughed this whole incident off. It had been a long day, because I had flown from Boston to Cleveland, got into the airport late, and then had an hour drive home. But now I knew it had a lot to do with “chemo fog,” also known as “chemo brain…”
I worked as a counselor with people who had been diagnosed with TBI — traumatic brain injuries, sometimes named THI – traumatic head injury. They had typically suffered a stroke or accident which affected their executive functions due to frontal lobe damage in the brain. They would forget appointments, events and sometimes people. I would work with them on writing down appointments, keeping a notebook and consulting the book several times a day with the places listed they needed to be. I thought I understood what they were going through, but I didn’t until it happened to me.
I am convinced that as more research is done, the experts will find similar repercussions of THI and chemo on the brain. The research is just beginning, and hopefully there will be more to come. Almost everyone notices chemo fog that undergoes doses of chemo, no matter which kind. For years afterwards, cancer survivors say they don’t feel the same. For persons with blood cancers like mine who are on it forever, the consequences are even more serious…
We can work at solutions, however. We will always miss the brain the way it was before. But we can compensate by writing down appointments, making lists even for one or two things at the grocery store, and setting off alarms for important events. I have a calendar I look at every single day…”