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Chemo Brain--Stuntz

Thanks to some of my cancer survivor friends, I recently discovered that Wikipedia has an entry for “Chemo brain.” (The link is here.) They call it “Post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment,” but I think the simpler label works better.) So far as I can tell, it’s totally true: these drugs seem to have roughly the same effect on mental acuity as repeated viewings of “Legally Blonde.” I can feel the I.Q. points departing, perhaps never to return. And I didn’t have that many to spare.

I know that a lot of interesting work is being done these days on links between mind and body. I’d love to understand those links better. One thing is clear: when your body takes hard shots, your mind suffers. A pain researcher once told me that chronic pain patients’ minds age much faster than the population at large; fighting off the pain uses up mental energy, and not all of that energy gets replaced. So too with fighting off cancer cells, I suspect. Thankfully, I’m not a mathematician—I’d already be far too dumb to do the job. Legal academics is a more forgiving line of work, and these days, forgiving lines of work sound pretty good to me.


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Comments ( 4 )

Thank you for posting this. My wife is in constant pain as a result of cancer surgery--I need to keep this in mind. Fortunately, she is not an attorney--just a teacher!

The mind-body link is critical to suvivorship. Medicine devotes much energy to studying its failures and little to its successes. Talk to as many survivors as you can. Discover what they have in common. Survivorship can be learned. As for chemo brain - my experience is that it helped me forget most of the unimportant things. Good luck.

If there's anything the legal academy needs, it's more humanity and empathy, and less cleverness. The voices of the chronically ill add immeasurably to a profession that has too long slighted the genuinely wise for the merely smart.

My father is experiencing Chemo Brain as a result of his treatment for Lung Cancer, and it is SEVERE. He cannot finish a sentence let alone complete a task. He sometimes gets stuck in a sentence and repeats himself over and over. I know a lot of has to do with the medications he is on every day and feeling of depression, but this is not effecting his thinking, it effecting his functioning. I cannot find any real answers online and the doctor is downplaying the severity of it. Has anyone been going through anything similar?