Memory Loss

I was dx in October 09, had WLE, Chemo, rads, 9 out of 18 herceptin and now on tamox. I have noticed a real problem with my short term memory. I forget what I am saying half way through a sentence, I cannot remember things that I have known for years.

My hairdresser rang me the other day to say that I had forgotten my appointment. I made another appointment over the phone and repeated back to her that I would come at 10.30, but as soon as I had put the phone down I put 2.30 in my diary. Fortunately someone overheard the conversation and was able to put me write, but I had no recollection of agreeing 10.30.

So it is not simply a case of temporary forgetfulness, but once something has gone from my memory even if prompted I have no memory of it at all. I am hoping that this is a short term problem and that it will start to get better.

I really need to do something to help with my memory. In a few months I am hoping to take the test to become a black belt at Taekwon Do, however I cannot see me being able to remember simple things like my name, let alone all the korean words, meanings and other things I need to know.

If I anyone else has had this problem please can you tell me how long it has gone on for, and any tips that can help.


Hi Caroline,

What a shame you haven’t had any replies to your post yet. A while back there used to be quite a lot of posts and talk about ‘chemo brain’ and I suspect if your post had that title to it, you may have had a lot more response LOL. I thnk many of us have suffered this to a greater or lesser extent. I used to get so very frustrated when that word you knew perfectly well just vanished into the ether leaving you standing there looking just plain dumb! To me it was like there was a blackboard up in front of me and someone went along rubbing out certain words and I just couldn’t find them! Oh I could go on and on about some of them. I have had many different chemos over the years, and am currently on just Herceptin and zometa and I don’t think things are as bad now.

It worried me more so because I am not getting any younger (66) and my mum’s last years were very sad as we all watched her struggle with Altzheimers. But there is much written now about ‘chemo brain’ and it is acknowledged as a very real problem associated with chemotherapy.

I found a very interesting article, it is quite long, but well worth a read.


Hi Caroline, I have the same memory problems, and my particular issue is not being able to find the right words I need to finish a sentence. My Onc says its really normal esp on Tamoxifen and is a known SE. He has published about it apparently. So guess its another thing we may have to live with. But you could check it out with your health team to see if they can advise/ bw Nicola

All ‘memory’ joking aside, I have this. I can’t blame Tamoxifen as I am ERneg and so not on it. Forgetting words to finish a sentence is the main problem…I’ve also noticed I keep repeating things. It must be really annoying for people. What’s really difficult is that I work with words…it’s what I do/did. I really can’t imagine being able to work in the same field again. I;d say the problem began on taxol last summer and has got progressively worse. :-(.

You are not alone. Like Dawn says there were a lot of threads about this a while ago under chemo brain. It is a recognised condition caused not only by chemo but also hormone therapy so if you have had both it’s a double whammy. I had chemo in 2007 and have been on tamoxifen and then zoladex, arimidex and zometa and I still suffer from it !!! My OH reckons at times it’s catching but that’s just his excuse for forgetting something he should have done !!!

The nearest way I have of describing it is that my brain is like a washing machine going round and all my thoughts/words etc are all knotted up and when the machine stops, I have to untangle it all to get the right word/memory. Does that make sense??? If not, that’s another example of chemo brain. I may joke about it as my way of dealing with it but it’s very frustrating and was part of the reason I retired from work very early on ill-health grounds. At least my medical team had warned me about it and said it was normal so I wasn’t as worried about it.


Hi ladies

What a relief to read this post. I had chemo and take tamoxifen and have recently been quite concerned about my absent mindedness and poor memory. A comfort to know I’m not alone.

I’m going to mention it at my next appointment but not sure there is snything that can be done.

Best wishes Judy x

me too! i soooo forget what im, saying all the time. It’s like having a butterfly brain- going rom one thing to another! glad to know i am not alone.

i had 2 wle, fec chemo, rads and am on tamox. i am 43.

Hi all
Im in the same foggy state as the rest of you. I didnt have chemo and am on Tamox for just over a year now. Im sure its a combination of the treatment and anxiety over the future.
Im having to undertake a degree for work (no pass- no job :frowning: ) so Im under huge pressure at the moment and Im trying to write a 900 word assigment and am stopping mid way thru sentences and havnt a clue what Im on about.All adding to the stress of life.
wishing you all the best
Cathie xx

Thank you all for reassuring me it is not just me. It is so frustrating and is really starting to upset me. Add to the problem the hot flushes that have returned with a vengence at the moment and I feel really out of control. I do have to keep reminding myself that compared to a year ago I am actually doing very well.

Fortunately everyone around me is very sympathetic and they say it is understandable with all the treatment.

My friend has suggested that I try a brain training programme to see if it will help rebuild my memory. I will have to give it a go to see if it does any good.


I am taking part in some research into ‘chemo brain’ There was a PhD student at my first onc appointment who asked if I would take part. Just involves filling in some questionnaires every few months, before chemo during and after for about a year. Questions on memory and stuff. Some people are also doing diaries.

I have definitely been forgetting stuff recently, even woke up in the night and wondered why my arm felt funny, had totally forgotten that I had a PICC line.

I’m only 34 so can’t blame age.

Hello Caroline,
I haven’t had chemo, but I’ve been on Arimidex for 8 months now.
I’m very forgetful now, I find that I start to do something and then start doing something else without finishing the first job. I find that I can’t remember if I’ve done something just a few minutes ago, and have to go and check.
My Mum had Alzimers in the latter years of her life and I’ve always been concerned in case I also got it, I do hope it’s just the tablets and it might settle down eventually.

Take care,

Isabelle xxx