Loss of concentration and memory impairment, commonly referred to as “Gleevecbrain,” during GIST treatment is very common. This area is currently a hot topic for researchers who are studying a wide range of drugs while trying to discover exactly what causes the “chemobrain” effect in patients. Although no medication is yet specifically indicated to treat memory impairment in patients undergoing cancer treatments, there are some ways to manage and mitigate the effects of memory loss.
Dealing with Memory Impairment:
- Keep a list of daily things to do. This will eliminate the need to remember everything. When everything is written down on a list, it is much less likely you will forget something. This will also help to keep you organized.
- Keep a list of questions or thoughts that you want to ask or share with your medical team. This is also a good idea so that you won’t forget to ask important questions and get frustrated with yourself.
- Mark a calendar with important dates, birthdays, anniversaries, and deadlines.
- Have a set routine of daily activities, such as waking up and going to bed at the same time. As part of that routine, be sure to keeping everything in one place. For instance, have a common place for your to-do list, calendar and planner, and have a place to put commonly lost objects.
- When trying to complete or focus on a task, make sure to turn off the TV, radio, or any other background distraction.
- Mnemonic devices, or short little acronyms or memory aids such as a rhyme or formula, can also make something easier to recall.
- Participating in a cognitive rehabilitation program tailored to cancer patients has also been noted by physicians and patients to be extremely helpful. Cognitive rehabilitation programs are programs that use any combination of exercise, memory tasks, and puzzles to strengthen memory and cognitive function.
- Exercising has also been shown to be very effective in keeping the mind active. Therefore, it is important to exercise if both you and your physician feel you are strong enough for physical activity.
Be sure to eat well, as eating vegetables and fruits can help to decrease the amount of memory impairment you experience.1
It is important to discuss your confusion with your physician. Confusion can possibly be caused by another underlying medical problem such as anxiety, infection, depression or insomnia. These conditions can be treated with medications. One last helpful hint: bring someone with you to doctor’s appointments so that you have someone who can clarify questions before, during and after the appointment for you.
ChemoBrain: What You Need to Know
Chemo brain: Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Cancer.net: Attention, Thinking, or Memory Problems
American Cancer Society: Chemo Brain
American Board of Psychology – You can locate a highly qualified expert neuropsychologist who can diagnose and develop a treatment to help you cope with “Gleevecbrain.”
American Psychological Association – This website can match patients with experts with experience in psychology and/or medicine rehabilitation through its referral service at the state level.
The Rehabilitation Accreditation Committee – This website lists accredited rehabilitation programs in areas such as medical, occupational, and brain injury rehabilitation in every state.