I spent some time at a cottage with my family a couple of months after I completed chemotherapy. One evening, the 12 of us were seated at the dining table having dessert. Eyeing the fresh bowl of cherries sitting at the opposite end of the long table, I asked to have the bowl of "cheerios" passed. All eyes were on me and the laughter began.
This wasn't the first time that I made an attempt at a word and the wrong one came out. Fortunately I was able to see the humour in my chemo affected brain, as was my family.
I had noticed changes in my functioning and worried about the affect this might have on my life, I sought out some resources to help ease my mind.
I found the book, Your Brain After Chemo: A Pracitcal Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus, by Dan Silverman and Idelle Davidson.
What first attracted me to this book, well after the title, was the description on the inside cover. This is what it says, "Even years after treatment, patients report problems with memory, concentration, multitasking, and word retrieval. As one person put it, 'I've lost my edge.'" These words alone, helped me to normalize some of the "chemo brain" or "brain fog" that I exhibited after treatment.
Now, 12 years post chemo, I still have the occasional challenges. I, however, also received 4 rounds of intrathecal chemotherapy. The way that this is administered is by removing spinal fluid and injecting chemotherapy into the spine. For me, this was a preventative measure so that any lingering cancer cells would not spread to my brain. I've since read, I don't recall where, that the affects of chemotherapy can last up to 20 years post treatment. I wouldn't be surprised if this may hold true for me, given the type of treatment that I received.
Having said this, the affects are minimal and have not altered my life. I've learned to write everything down, just in case something is lost. When the wrong word comes out, which is now rare, I laugh and say that I have chemo brain as my excuse.