chemo brain?

Hi, I finished chemotherapy in August last year and I have found that my memory is not so good as it was and my tolerance to stress is low. I read somewhere that flouracil can affect the memory and brain(I had xeloda). When I said this to other people they do not believe me or think I should be back to normal by now. I would like to read and understand more about the long term side effects of chemotherapy.

Hi Rachy,
My chemo finished in August too and i feel exactly the way you do my memory is mince, i think it definately affects your memory sometimes i can,t even remember the basic of things. So we are both in the same boat probably the same as hundreds other people, but it is good we are not alone. Oh i had 4 epi and 8 cmf i think there is flurocil in the cmf.
Love Reneexx.

You are not alone, I had E-CMF which finished in April 2007 and I’m still suffering from chemo brain!!!

Me too! I finished Taxotere in May 2007 and my memory’s shot to pieces! Still have to write lists of simple things to do.

Rach, tell your family and friends that chemo brain is a definite side effect. And if you lost your hair and it’s now grown back, you’ll know all about chemo curl!!!

Good luck to us all.
Maureen xx


Yep, chemo brain is an official condition - google it and you’ll see a whole bit about it on another big UK cancer website - gives a symptoms ’ checklist ’ !!! My mum still gets it 6 yrs down the line so we have some odd conversations…I have lists for lists !!

Can be used to your advantage on occasions so it’s not all bad !!

Liz x

Thanks everyone. i had a good google to find out about chemo brain and there was loads about it. It was very helpful and will print it out.

I had chemo three years ago and my memory is still not right, so I did some research and found that Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome can be caused by chemo treatment. It is caused by a deficiency of vitamin B1. So guess what I am buying tomorrow?! It annoys me that I spoke to my doctor about it a year ago and she just said do some brain training excercises. Why don’t doctors take this memory loss seriously, enough of us get it!

What was I going to buy?..

Think i,ll be buying it too my memory is sooooo bad it gets embarrassing. You would think the docs would warn you about it and offer advice but they don,t , i suppose it,s not important enough for them.

I was advised to do Sudoku, and I don’t know whether that’s helped or the passage of time has lessened the side effects, but my memory has certainly improved since I finished 3 FEC and 3 Taxotere in Oct 08. It’s such a joy and a relief, it’s like my brain is waking up from a very heavy deep long sleep. Worth a try perhaps?


I have been playing alot of trivial pursuit and noticed how much slower I was at it and found it difficult to remember stuff that had always come easily to me before. I used to have very good general knowledge but now it is less good! I have always been bad at maths so sudoku not going to work i think. I do try and do crosswords too. I think working full time, taking arimidex and alot of anti depressant(I have had depression and mood swings for years )do not help the chemo brain.By the time I get home from work I am fit for nothing. Tonight I tried to do a crossword but couldn’t and typing is hard too. I find it all very frustrating.

One thing that hasn’t come back to me is the positioning of punctuation marks when I’m writing something - I often find I have to refer to a dictionary on this. As I never, ever had problems with this prior to chemo it’s very frustrating especially as I do most of the writing in our business. I’m 2 years post chemo in June of this year.

Hi all,

Sudoku did help for me Kindensurprise. Rachy you don’t really need math to do Sudoku, it’s more of a logical puzzle.


I’m working my brain and taking CoQ10, it’s helping a fair bit I think. Try googling CoQ10 and chemotherapy, there’s a few trials in progress.

I dpn’t think i have a brain anymore its more like swiss cheese - with big gaps where there should really be something useful. Found at work had to constantly make notes during meetings or I would loose the train of what was going on. Action point lists were essential or I would forget what i needed to do. Shopping lists essential as i would get to the supermarket and forget why i had set out to get!!! It is getting better (chemo finished in Aug) but still have difficultly with names.

think the chemo must be working out of my system as i didn’t have one zit since my treatment started but I found one yesterday- don’t know whether to be pleased or not!!!
take care

Thank you for all your comments. I also finished chemo recently Oct 08 so it sounds like there is some hope of getting my brain back. Will keep trying to focus it. Hopefully back to work end of April if the brain improves and I get my stamina back.

Hi all,
Yes, I too also have a bad memory after my chemo - epi and cmf ended in March, 2007. The worst bit is when you’re having a conversation with someone and you know what you are going to say in reply, but by the time they have finished their tale, I have completely forgotton what I was going to say in response aaarrgh!!
Still its comforting to know I’m not alone!
Rosie x

Hi Rachy

As you know, you and I were only fairly similar treatment times. I was aware of my brain being VERY foggy during chemo and started doing simple sums (they don’t have to be sums, they could be crosswords or word searches or whatever) I am more or less back to normal now but the one thing I do is be just about to say things and “forget” them for a minute and have to pause. But I wonder if that is the menopause?

Take care

Louise x

My hubby bought me a nintendo ds along with the brain training game. (i haven’t used it for a week or two). I felt more alert when i used it regular, also i have noticed a slight difference between using it and not. think i’ll dig the game out of the box and start using it again. i’m not saying that everyone has to use a ds, just puzzle books or anything you like that gets those brain cells working.
it’s worth a try! x

Hi All, My chemo brain is improving and am now managing to cope with the mental side of my job better. Over the last week or so I have noticed an improvement but as others have said using my brain has probably helped. The tiredness is still there but seems to catch up with me at the end of the week.My job is stressful in nature and there are alot of issues there which would stress me even having not gone through bc and treatment. I do take a step back from my job now and always reflect later on that it is not the be all and end all of my life. Jobs are scarce at the moment so will not be moving on yet. I would love to change job but my skills are lacking. I will have to see how it goes.

Rach xx