Tips for Mesothelioma Patients Facing “Chemo Brain”

When a person is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, whether pleural or peritoneal, they are generally offered several options for treatment. The most common approach taken by experienced mesothelioma doctors is a multi modality course of treatment that includes surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Although this has proven to be effective, the combination also involves significant adverse effects, with the side effects of chemotherapy proving to be the most troublesome.

The public is familiar with the visible impacts of chemotherapy, including hair loss, and most people know that the treatment can also cause nausea and ulcers in the mouth. But few are aware of chemo brain, a troublesome cognitive impairment that leaves patients frustrated and depressed.

Mesothelioma patients who have experienced chemo brain describe it as a “brain fog.” They have trouble finding words or remembering small details, and they struggle with disorganization.

In the face of a shortened life, they find this disrupts their ability to enjoy time with family and friends. Symptoms including slowed processing speed and shortened attention span are combined with physical and mental fatigue and result in heightened depression and anxiety.

To address chemo brain, mesothelioma victims can use the following tips:

  • Keep a to-do list at hand, checking items off and referring back to it frequently. Smartphone apps can help a great deal, as you can set reminders for yourself of things you need to do.
  • Use a pill box to keep medications organized.
  • Keep constantly used (and misplaced) items like keys in the same place at all times.
  • Get as much physical activity as you can, as it does help to clear the effects and minimize symptoms
  • Tell your physician if you are having symptoms. There are adjustments that can be made to medication dosages which may help, but only if they are aware of your experience.

Sometimes the hardest thing for patients with mesothelioma to do is to ask for help, but there are plenty of resources available to provide information and assistance. If you need support contact the Patient Advocates at today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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