Chemo brain

There have been previous discussions on this subject, but I wondered of people would like to share their experiences?

Not long after starting chemo, my wife went downstairs in the middle of the night to get a drink. She looked at the clock and got such a shock - she had completely forgotten how to tell the time!!!

Fortunately we were forewarned about ‘chemo brain’ as I had been able to get a book out of the library: ‘Breast cancer husband, how to help your wife (and yourself) through diagnosis, treatment and beyond’ by Marc Silver - it is a mine of information and very readable. - a ‘must’ for your significant other.

Oh, yes, chemo brain … I canceled an appointment with my surgeon because I ‘forgot’ I could book transport. I’ve not forgotten how to tell the time (yet) but cannot read the books I would usually read - they just don’t make sense! And then they expect us to make decisions!!!

Hopefully our brain cells wake up again after.

Your wife is fortunate to have an understanding husband like you, Freddie.

I’ve also suffered from chemo brain. I double book things all the time, forget words I want to use and my spelling (never a strong point!) is up to nothing. I’m also hoping this is a passing thing…Its wonderful that you are seeking out all this information and reassurance for your wife. I do hope you are having some good days through all this.


Sorry but I laughed at that one.
This is the third reply that I have written to you but I keep losing my thread! best go and just leave it at that…

My husband thinks I have gone a “bit bonkers” which is ok by me. Sometimes he gets two dinners, sometimes he gets none! Sometimes I put in chilli again and again to the meat, and then, ooh, i forgot chilli…?!

Countryfile still makes me cry so there are some things this poison can’t erase!

love nina

Hi Freddie,

Thanks for the tip on the book, My husband has just had an awful few days trying to look after me, unfortunately without success. He is a wonderful bloke but he just went off to work on Monday left me in bed with no drink or food for the day. He knew I wasn’t able to get up, he just said call the neighbour if you need anything. Banging on the wall doesn’t help if your detached!. Thankfully the neighbor called on the off chance to help me!.

I love him but has he got a lot to learn. I think he has the chemo brain!


I want to recommend another brilliant book by a husband of someone with BC - more a very humerous account than a book of advice, but made me laugh out loud (and my OH when I could persuade him to read it). Unfortunately I can’t remember the title or the author!!! (Just had last chemo) His surname’s Halpin and the title’s something like ‘the best a man can get’ but I know that’s the Gilette advert so can’t be right!
Will try to find out…

Is the book Brendan Halpin’s “It takes a worried man”, Jacquie? Someone mentioned this book to me last week as being very good and funny but I haven’t read it - was thinking of getting it for my hubby for Christmas!!

By the way, was your port-a-cath ok?


Hello all,
I can very much relate to the term chemo-brain… I’ve had 5 of 6 FEC so far and at some point last week I couldn’t for the life of me remember what the 3 ingredients in a BLT were… I finally came up with Bacon, Lettuce and Spagetti… enough said. Still makes me chuckle when I think about it.

Yes Kay! It takes a worried man. It’s great but had to really persuade my OH to give it a try. He was afraid of it either being a good news story (mine prob isn’t) or being all doom and depressing. It’s a bit in the style of Bill Bryson - short ‘chapters’ of a page or two long. Hysterically funny observations. Compulsive reading. You can really relate to it. I loved the bit when all they’d had was bad news and they were invited to a ‘multi disappointment’ - a multi-disciplinary appointment!
I highly recommend it.
I wanted to know if anyone in the family needed the computer one evening, and asked ‘does anyone need to go on the cucumber’!
Love Jx

Oh yes, and forgot to say…!!! My port seems okay. I thought i’d apply the 2-day rule as i had lots of weird aches and pains post-chemo. It’s settled down now so I can wait till i next go to the hosp to mention it.

Hi there,
yes can really relate to this one - keep forgetting where i park the car when out shopping, forget the names of my children’s teachers (most embarassing) and even forgot my own phone no (scarey). fortunatly can still just remember the pin no on my credit card so am off to do some retail therapy - if i can find the car keys

I can really relate to this as well - last 2 times I’ve been to the supermarket I’ve lost the car. Really annoying the 2nd time around as (I thought) I’d made deliberate mental note of where I’d left it! Also actually forgot where the supermarket was (wasn’t my local one but one near where we lived 5 years ago - roads haven’t changed but I just got a complete mental block as to how to get from my friend’s house to the supermarket!! A journey I made weekly for 10 odd years)

All the language mistakes interest me as I’m a speech and language delay - genuine mistake there! Meant to type “therapist” but typed “delay”! To start again…

All the language mistakes interest me in my professional role as a speech and language therapist. It’s called (not surprisingly) “word finding difficulty”. I often talk to parents whose children have big problems in this area, about how we all have this problem from time to time and it’s affected by tiredness, stress etc and just shows how hard the brain does actually have to work to retrieve the right word. I’m now usually able to give them at least one example completely spontaneously - which is actually proving quite useful as an illustration and breaks the ice as well! So long as it isn’t the name of their child I forget - that doesn’t go down too well even when I try and explain I am forever calling my own children by the cats’ names!

Will definitely get the book for my hubby, Jacquie. Sounds very readable and fun - we like Bill Bryson as well. He’s the Chancellor of Durham Uni and gave a brilliantly funny but appropriate address when my son graduated this summer.

Best wishes to all


Oh Chemo brain syndrome! how I get it. Every time I go out everywhere looks different,I keep asking what has changed or where did that building come from? The only changes usually are things like hedges or verges being cut or advertising signs changed.Guess this happens when you go out and about less that ususal. Only places I never observe change are the hospital routes!! Oh dear…

I used to ask my OH the same question every 10 minutes and he would be absolutely exasperated by me. I got to the stage that I could not read a book as I was staring at the same paragraph over and over (I would forget what the previous chapter was about). Couldn’t even do the quick crossword in the paper and I can’t really remember any of the movies I went to see in the first half of this year; the only magazines I could cope with were the rubbish ones with “real life” stories in them - I would normally never touch these as I like things like Marie Claire.

Rest assured, it gets better. I’m 5 months post chemo, managing to attend job interviews and I hope to go back to work soon as I’m getting back to normal. Just about to start a course this week too, I could not have done this a couple of months back.