A new study shows that memory issues are common in breast cancer patients and survivors regardless of whether they did chemotherapy or not, which throws into question the label "Chemo-Brain" for the fog which comes after treatment - one of the more frustrating side effects.
From personal experience, I did not have chemotherapy, but I did have serious memory issues (working memory, not long term memory) DURING my radiation treatment, and for a few months after this.
A typical example of my memory problem would be trying to shop for groceries. I would look at an item on my list, and by the time I looked up in the aisle, I had already forgotten what I just read.
Some of this could be from the incredible fatigue I experienced from radiation. Your body is doing a lot of work: fighting cancer, dealing with daily doses of therapeutic radiation, trying to stay well with cold and flu germs all around - your body needs a lot more rest during this time. This is not unlike other times in my life, if I was extremely exhausted, or very sick, my memory might fail...
To me, I blamed the radiation, and recovered fully when I recovered from the radiation. I don't have ANY memory issues now.
But it's all about the recovery. Some folks don't recover. To me, that may be a sign that they are still trying to recover from the treatment (chemo or radiation) and the 'shock' of diagnosis.
In my personal experience, the most dramatic improvement in my recovery from the treatment, came a year later when I began drinking Green Smoothies (after reading the book Green for Life - an excellent book that describes how greens affect our health, and provides recipes for getting more of these nutrients in our diet). This brought my energy back to a level better than anything in the years that led up to my cancer diagnosis. In my early 40s, I felt healthier and more energized than I did in my early 30s. And with the energy, came mental clarity, and improved focus. It was a dramatic change that I noticed immediately - within weeks I was back to normal... after a year of fatigue and sluggishness, it felt great to feel energized and healthy again.
I believe that when all the systems of the body are working efficiently, and your body has the nutrients it needs, and you are not burdened with stress, then mental clarity returns - in other words, I don't think the damage is permanent. I believe all cancer survivors can overcome the cancer, and move on to be healthier than they were before.
If nothing else, cancer is a wake-up call from your body saying: take care of me!!
If you have mental fog after treatment, perhaps it is your body saying: give me better nutrients, get out and take walks for fresh air, get enough sleep and above all else: REDUCE STRESS (adjust your priorities, enjoy your life, do things you love, and laugh). Try these things - you may see some memory improvement, and you're sure to feel better and more alert.