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The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
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Has anyone come across 'Chem brain'

My husband is confused and absent minded. He keeps getting events and days confused eg over Christmas he kept thinking it was Christmas Eve every day. He's very tired and I suspect he is anaemic, he's had two blood transfusions over the course of 5 cycles of chemotherapy. I've stopped him from driving because when he drove before Chistmas he was really bad, which is not him, he is normally a very careful driver. He can barely get out of bed and I have to prompt him to shower, brush his teeth etc.

We have clinic on Monday but I was just wondering if anyone else has experienced this confusion and absentmindedness.

I worry about the cancer spreading to his brain, I lost my mum to a cancer that started as a brain tumour and it's awful when the person you love changes because of something going on in their head.

He has nsclc (squamous). I'll speak to the clinic in detail on Monday but if anyone has any experience of this I'd be grateful for your input.

Kate xxx

4 Replies

Hi Kate,I am sorry to hear of your husbands problems.I am a seven year survivor of NSCLC (squamous) and have had some experience of what your husband is going through at this moment in time.I am not a doctor and I am not very sure that "Chemo Brain" is a recognised effect on some patients in reaction to their treatment??.From what you describe of your husbands behaviour,I had a much similar experience going through my treatments.I took some time to come to terms with my diagnosis,it was really a tough time for me,I kept thinking the worst,no light at the end of the tunnel etc.I also worried that my treatments were going to be ineffective and my cancer would return after the treatments were completed.

I had difficulty in getting a good nights sleep,such was my anxieties,lack of concentration getting through my days,I did recognise my problems,depression was my first thought.I decided to visit my GP to discuss the difficulties I was going through.He prescribed a short course of sleeping pills and anti-depressents.I had no hang ups about taking these pills,if they can help me stabilise myself and get back to some kind of normality,then the drug taking would be worthwhile.

With the passage of time and the support of family and friends,my gloomy feelings began imperceptively to disappear,I began to believe,maybe just maybe I can beat this disease.Today seven years after my dx I am enjoying life as it was prior to my dx in 2008.

Please pass on to your husband my very best wishes,if he would like to get back to me I would be only too happy to continue to offer him some further support in getting through this difficult time.One saying I came across at that time on my journey was "Worry is like sitting on a rocking chair,it gives you something to do,but it dos'nt get you anywhere"

Best Wishes Kate,

Eric Byrne.

1 like

Hi Kate

One of the nurses on the day unit mentioned chemo brain .My husband had 2 cycles of Chemotherapy the first one he sailed through was tired and slept lots .He did notice he lost concentration for a couple of weeks and couldn't do crosswords or soduko .But gradually came back.The second cycle had lots more side effects and concentration not good again .He is due in clinic on Tuesday and 3 rd cycle of chemotherapy due on Thursday . We thought the loss of concentration and mixing days were all part of what is called Chemo Brain . Do hope this helps Kate as it is as hard for us watching these symptoms and going through it with loved ones .

Hope all goes well in clinic tomorrow


1 like

Hi Kate,

I finished my chemo at the beginning of October. I only had 3 cycles as I had every side effect going. They stopped it due to peripheral neuropathy ( numbness in feet and hands). I too suffered with Chemo brain, but I am fine now . I have even had the all clear on a brain scan. Sure your husband will get back to normal soon. take care.xx


Hi Kate, yes chemo brain is certainly a term used for absent mindless, poor motivation etc. Your hubby may also suffer these symptoms because of the anaemia as well as the chemo. I wasn't too bad with these symptoms during chemo 4 years ago and also at the beginning of last year but my wife did notice I was clumsier and more forgetful. I'm due to start another session of chemo tomorrow so we will have to see how I get on although due to the progression of my cancer I am already not as capable as normal. Still at least the trips to the hospital get me out and about...

Good Luck to you both.



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