Tuesday, August 31, 2010

INFORMATION PROCESSING: How Chemotherapy Changes the Way You Think, Part 3

Idelle Davidson

In the introduction of Your Brain After Chemo, I tell the story of one of my friends, "Linda," who was in a support group with me at the Wellness Community.  Earlier in the week she had tried to get to the market only to find herself tangled in frustration.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hear My Interview on Empower Radio

Idelle Davidson

You can download my interview with Mel Majoros of Empower Radio, here.  I've been interviewed several times about Your Brain After Chemo, but this was probably the most fun conversation of all.  Mel has a great sense of humor and she is a very warm and inviting radio host.

Check out Mel's blog as well at http://www.thecancerwarrior.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING: How Chemotherapy Changes the Way You Think, Part 2

Idelle Davidson
Many people who have been through chemotherapy report problems with EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING.  Of course they don't call it that, they just say their brains have turned to sludge.

Executive functioning is high-level thought found in a part of the brain called the frontal cortex (just behind the forehead).

Monday, August 23, 2010

INTRODUCTION: How Chemotherapy Changes the Way You Think, Part 1

Idelle Davidson

Have you heard of "cognitive domains?" That's a term mental health experts use to explain which areas of the brain do what. People who have gone through chemotherapy often take a hit in these areas.  Look at the domain categories below. Do any describe what you may be calling chemo brain or post-chemo brain or brain fog?  What you may be suffering is actually a deficit in your executive functioning.  A mouthful, I know.  Okay, let's go back to chemo brain...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

After Chemo, Changes in Personality and Mood [From Ellen K.]

Dear Dr. Silverman and Ms. Davidson,

I just read with great enthusiasm your book which I hope is the first step toward an understanding of "Chemo Brain."  I am nearly 5-years out from surviving surgery/dose-dense ACT (Adriamycin, Cytoxan and Taxol) chemo/radiation for stage 3 breast cancer.  I was 39 at diagnosis,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Questions About Memory Loss From a Hodgkin's Lymphoma Patient

My story is a brief one, but I sense a need to spell out what is not told to patients by many oncologists.

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma a little over a year ago after I had experienced symptoms about 18 months ago with primarily weight loss.  I was in great physical shape and doing  a lot of hiking.

The treatments of ABVD (Adriamycin, Bleomycin, Vinblastine, and Dacarbazine) began in August 2009, and it was shortly after that my brain began changing.  I had a history of retaining names, ideas, concepts, book titles and past experiences, but began to forget many things I once experienced.  By the time I finished my chemotherapy sessions in February 2010, I was definitely different because of what I had forgotten, and what I consistently knew before and could no longer remember.

Your Brain After Chemo is absolutely a vital resource in providing ideas for recovering some of my memory that has simply disappeared, as if I had entered a twilight zone during chemo sessions. My memory was so affected by chemotherapy drugs, that even though much long-term memory is still there, many memories of names of people whom I met and titles of books I have read during the past few years suddenly were forgotten.  My brain could simply not retrieve them when I got into conversations with friends and wanted to speak of a person or a book, even though I remembered some content and experiences. 

I am retrieving short-term memory slowly and with practice and re-reading, but I always wonder: What is considered normal memory loss after certain specific chemotherapies?  

Second question might be: Why is it that many patients are not told of this potential memory loss BEFORE they enter chemotherapy?  Why is it not normal protocol for oncologists to mention cognitive and brain functions are affected?

I still do much physical activity, I once even hiked 4 miles in between chemo treatments, but my normal astute brain functions seem to recover slowly at times, and some times rapidly, depending on the day, on sleep patterns, on reading habits, on memory exercises and on dietary intake.

Thank you for writing the book and for this opportunity to share an experience on the mental side effect of my Chemotherapy.

Lorenzo C
Thanks for sharing your experience, Lorenzo, as well as for your feedback on Your Brain After Chemo.   

Regarding your questions, first, there really is no "normal memory loss" which we can cite... the experiences of patients even with a given

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Physical Exercise Helps With Chemo Brain

Idelle Davidson

Physical exercise is hugely important in recovering all those marbles we somehow lose during cancer treatment. Exercise increases blood flow (and oxygen) to the brain. In laboratory studies, animals that exercise regularly create new neurons in the hippocampus. That region of the brain is key to forming memories.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Moment of Intense Disability...A Connection to Alzheimer's? [From Lois]

Last Friday night I attended a local showing of 2 films, one about mental illness and one about breast cancer. I had been looking forward to speaking with a person involved in the making of those films, and I was taken aback when I spoke with her because that brief opportunity turned into a chemo brain experience. I could barely function, and I was trying as hard as I could. She is an exceptionally sensitive and intelligent woman and recognized that I was having trouble and did her best to make the moment comfortable for me and accept me.