Your Brain After Chemo: A Practical Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus. For some, problems start after surgery. Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is a federal disability insurance benefit earned by people/employees who have worked and paid into Social Security. Chemo Brain Fog. Doctors didnt take it seriously until recently. Women may be more at risk than men. You can take steps to ease chemo brain symptoms on your own. Talk with your employer if you are having problems at work. A majority of people report cognitive problems during chemo (67% in one study). But ultimately the employee is supposed to get an accommodation. These changes are also sometimes called chemo brain or chemo fog because they were originally thought to be due to chemotherapy. In fact, I've lost a large portion of my childhood memories too. That analysis is always done on a case-by-case basis. [3], Research on PCCI is limited, and studies on the subject have often been conflicting in results, in part due to differing means of assessing and defining the phenomenon, which makes comparison and synthesis difficult. [7], Several recent studies have advanced the field using neuroimaging techniques. JM: In-Home Support Services (IHSS) is a program related to Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) that is available in some states (contact the Cancer Legal Resource Center for state information). The cognitive problems related to Mental Fog or Chemo Brain are based on determined brain alterations. … Short-term memory problems 10. JM: Reasonable accommodations are things that could accommodate you in the workplace if you are experiencing chemo brain. You just have to have a medical condition that is keeping you out of work at least eight days. [31], Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is also used to study post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment. What is Chemo Brain? You may have trouble remembering..." } Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [10], Post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment comes as a surprise to many cancer survivors. This type of approval is given when a person is judged to be unable to return to any past work or even switch to less demanding work. Chemo brain is most commonly connected with chemotherapy, but other treatments, such as hormone therapy, radiation, and surgery may be associated with it also. Posts: 12 Joined: Feb 2010 : Feb 21, 2010 - 1:47 pm. [7] Most studies have involved small samples, making generalization difficult. Cancer treatment side effect: Chemobrain. The mystery of chemo brain. They raise the question whether chemotherapy is truly the principal cause of cognitive deficits in this setting. Chemo brain is a term used to describe the cognitive decline you may experience while undergoing cancer treatment. There are also the two federal long-term disability insurance plans available through the Social Security Administration: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). PCCI is complex and factors other than the chemotherapeutic agents may impact cognitive functioning. In comparing 581 breast cancer patients to 364 healthy adults, the researchers measured patients' perceived impairment against how the others described their cognitive function. Chemo brain, or chemo fog, as it has been dubbed, was first reported by breast cancer survivors. We offer HOPE for survivors suffering from Chemo Brain Fog. [3], PCCI affects a subset of cancer survivors,[7] though the overall epidemiology and prevalence is not well known and may depend on many factors. Credit: Arthur Toga, University of California, Los Angeles Always tell your doctor about any changes in your thinking. JM) That’s correct. The findings, based on a study of 92 cancer patients at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, suggest that the cognitive losses that seem to … JM: That's correct. All you may need is just a letter from a health care professional that speaks to your particular medical condition and your ability to function in the context of major life activities. Doctors don't fully understand why you get chemo brain. Side effects from these therapies are serious and may form a basis for a disability claim on their own. That analysis is always done on a case-by-case basis. ID: What if you don't work? JM: It depends on the program. Chemo brain refers to the changes in your memory, concentration and the ability to be able to think clearly when having chemotherapy. Results found that twin A (exposed to chemotherapy) experienced a broader spatial extent of activation in her brain than twin B (not exposed to chemotherapy). Chemotherapy and radiation can have a significant impact on your ability to function normally. The symptoms may disappear quickly after your chemotherapy ends, or they may linger for months. What patients and caregivers need to know about cancer, coronavirus, and COVID-19. And two is that you get access to reasonable accommodations. One is mediating with the employer, filing a complaint with the state fair employment agency or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or pursuing legal representation. For those of you who do not know me I am 52 years old and have been fighting cancer since 1997, during which time I have had a total of 28 rounds of chemotherapy. They speak of issues with word retrieval, multitasking or following the thread of a conversation. Though these terms imply a relation to chemotherapy, it isn't clear that chemotherapy is responsible. I Know how You Feel ! My oncologist has me on permanent disability with "chemo brain "as the secondary diagnosis, multiple myeloma being the first diagnosis. Traumatic brain injury is most common in children under 4 … Minimize distractions: Employers are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to make reasonable accommodations for health-related issues such as chemobrain. The hippocampus is one of the rare areas of the brain that exhibits neurogenesis. In one study, 5-flouracil caused ocular toxicity in 25-38% of patients treated with the drug. Other Ways to Receive Disability Benefits for Brain Cancer. This gave me so much hope. 2. It's a formula. CHEMO BRAIN PAST AND PRESENT Submitted by RE on June 26, 2009 - 12:17am . And then for private plans, whether they are something you purchase yourself, or are purchased through an employer, the contract is going to define disability and the terms of the policy. Post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment (PCCI), also known as chemo brain, chemo fog, chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment or cognitive dysfunction, is a term used by some cancer survivors to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur after cancer treatment. It's how your particular diagnosis is affecting your particular major life activities and whether or not that effect is substantial. That analysis is always done on a case-by-case basis. Now if along the way the employee doesn't feel as if he's getting heard, there are different options. It use to be thought that the brain was finite and you had what you were born with and that was all. Thank goodness to the scientist who are making new discoveries of the brain all the time. And they worry. It is a legitimate, diagnosable condition that can be caused by chemotherapy treatment, the cancer itself, or secondary medical conditions such as anemia. We can never say across the board that everyone who experiences chemo brain has a disability, or even that everyone who has cancer has a disability. It’s how your particular diagnosis is affecting your particular major life activities and whether or not that effect is substantial. Signs and symptoms of chemo brain may include the following: 1. JM: People can contact our national, toll-free telephone assistance line at 866-THE-CLRC (866-843-2572) or visit our website at www.CancerLegalResourceCenter.org for more information about these topics and other cancer-related legal issues. I miss me. “Chemo brain,” the foggy thinking and forgetfulness that cancer patients often complain about after treatment, may last for five years or more for a sizable percentage of patients, new research shows. It’s how your particular diagnosis is affecting your particular major life activities and whether or not that effect is substantial. Hypothesized treatment options include the use of antioxidants, cognitive behavioral therapy, erythropoietin and stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate, though as the mechanism of PCCI is not well understood the potential treatment options are equally theoretical. Chemotherapy drugs thalidomide, the epothilones such as ixabepilone, the vinca alkaloids vincristine and vinblastine, the taxanes paclitaxel and docetaxel, the proteasome inhibitors such as bortezomib, and the platinum-based drugs cisplatin, oxaliplatin and carboplatin often cause chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, a progressive and enduring tingling numbness, intense pain, and hypersensitivity to cold, beginning in the hands and feet and sometimes involving the arms and legs. Credit: Arthur Toga, University of California, Los Angeles . [16], The drug doxorubicin (adriamycin) has been investigated as a PCCI-causing agent due to its production of reactive oxygen species. This image of the human brain uses colors and shapes to show neurological differences between two people. Consider earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. While radiation to the brain has long been linked to causing cognitive difficulties, the effects of chemotherapy on brain structure and function have only recently been discovered. Will they be able to provide for their families? ID: But "chemo brain" may not be severe in every case. IHSS will do an assessment to see what your capacity is and what you need help with and how many hours per week you require assistance, then they come up with a formula and they will pay for part or all of that care. Although post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment appears to be temporary, it can be quite long-lived, with some cases lasting 10 years or more.[11]. Difficulty multitasking 7. These treatments can cause short-term, long-term, or delayed mental changes or cognitive problems. Difficulty learning new skills 6. 50% of cancer survivors struggle daily. ID) But “chemo brain” may not be severe in every case. "Chemo brain" and "chemo fog" describe memory problems cancer survivors experience after treatment. The phenomenon first came to light because of the large number of breast cancer survivors who complained of changes in memory, fluency, and other cognitive abilities that impeded their ability to function as they had pre-chemotherapy. Read more to find out. The CLRC provides free information and resources on cancer-related legal issues to cancer survivors, caregivers, health care professionals, employers and others coping with cancer. [24] This evidence suggests that chemotherapy agent toxicity to cells in the hippocampus may be partially responsible for the memory declines experienced by some patients. Control what you can about your working environment. [27] This evidence suggests that some of the visual-based cognitive deficits experienced by cancer survivors may be due to damage at the ocular level rather than cognitive processing, but most likely it is due to a synergistic effect on both systems. JM: Then disability benefits are a pretty good option if you qualify for them. People who have chemo brain as a result of cancer treatment are more likely to develop cognitive impairment than people who have not received chemotherapy. Risk factors are different for different types of brain disorders. [8] Survivors often report difficulty multitasking, comprehending what they have just read, following the thread of a conversation, and retrieving words. Working, connecting with loved ones, carrying out day-to-day tasks—all can be very challenging for an impaired brain. Chemotherapy patients may require greater volume of neural circuitry to complete neuropsychological tasks compared to others. The ADA does not contain a list of medical conditions that constitute disabilities. If it is not, that may indicate a post-chemo disability. Approximately 20 to 30% of people who undergo chemotherapy experience some level of post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment. Could you be entitled to disability benefits if you suffer from chembrain symptoms after chemotherapy? They call this brain plasticity. Will these cognitive deficits interfere with their ability to function at home and on the job? However, it's difficult to get disability solely because of chemo or radiation treatments because of the SSA's time requirement. Surgery can eliminate cancerous skin lesions, while lung cancer is usually treated using chemotherapy and radiation. There are employers who offer short and long-term disability insurance plans through your work. But when the ADA amendments passed in 2008, they specifically delineated some additional major life activities that made it easier for someone with cancer to actually use the ADA's protections. 5-fluorouracil has been demonstrated to reduce the viability of neural progenitor cells by 55-70% at concentrations of 1 μM, whereas cancer cell lines exposed to 1 μM of 5-fluorouracil were unaffected. And they can have someone come into their home and help them. JM: If you aren't working, but are in a situation where you are experiencing chemo brain and maybe other long-term side effects from treatment such as fatigue or depression you may qualify for other assistance programs. Understanding “Chemobrain” and Cognitive Impairment after Cancer Treatment This image of the human brain uses colors and shapes to show neurological differences between two people. Feb 8, 2019 - What is Chemo Brain? the good news is that it doesnt have to be permenant and there are easy ways to reverse it. Perhaps you're retired or you're a stay-at-home parent where functioning at home is difficult. You can even prevent chemo brain from happening in the first place if you are expecting to take chemo soon. Make an appointment today! The Mayo Clinic suggests that chemo brain is a commonly used term to describe cognitive difficulties that can occur during and after receiving cancer treatment. The treatments often cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, weakness, skin, and mental ailments. You may find yourself disorganized and unable to find things, and you may find it difficult to concentrate on simple daily tasks. [22] This is a concern because neural progenitor cells are the major dividing cell population in the brain, giving rise to neurons and glia. But you do need to have an income level that qualifies you for the Medicaid program in your state. Aug 24, 2018 - Explore Kay Sappington's board "Chemo brain", followed by 110 people on Pinterest. [9], Breast cancer survivors who were treated with chemotherapy may find it harder to perform tasks than survivors whose treatment was surgical. [26] Methotrexate also caused ocular toxicity in 25% of patients within 2–7 days of initial chemotherapy regimen with the drug. You can also buy your own private short or long-term disability insurance plan. Try watching this video on www.youtube.com, or enable JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser. ID: What are the qualifications for each one? CogniFit chemo brain activities can help improve a person's cognitive state who has been through a cancer process. Often, survivors think their lives will return to normal when the cancer is gone, only to find that the lingering effects of post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment impede their efforts. 5-fluorouracil, a commonly used chemotherapy agent, has been shown to significantly reduce the levels of BDNF in the hippocampus of the rat. ID: What is the legal standard to qualify for a disability? Springfield Wellness Center is expert in BR+ NAD, very effective treatment & fast recovery for chemo brain in Louisiana. HOPE Exists. But they could be due to a variety of reasons, including cancer treatments and the cancer itself. [8], Fifty-six of the 132 chemotherapy agents approved by the FDA have been reported to induce oxidative stress. Doctors and researchers may call chemo brain many things, such as cancer treatment-related … The most significant difference of blood flow was found in the inferior frontal gyrus. [23] Methotrexate, an agent widely used in the chemotherapy treatment of breast cancer, has also displayed a long-lasting dose dependent decrease in hippocampal cell proliferation in the rat following a single intravenous injection of the drug. Twin A also reported a greater difficulty than twin B in completing the memory activity. In fact, the risk also varies depending on the type of cancer being treated, the dose and the length of chemotherapy … Get plenty of rest and make time for physical activity to increase mental alertness. Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter, Co-author, 'Your Brain After Chemo: A Practical Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus'. and Idelle Davidson, visit www.YourBrainAfterChemo.com or find the book on Amazon. Eventually the scientific community will understand how to prevent chemotherapy-related memory problems and reduce the need for testing. Prepare yourself for success. While radiation to the brain has long been linked to causing cognitive difficulties, the effects of chemotherapy on brain structure and function have only recently been discovered. It's supposed to be a back-and-forth dialogue. Some people with cancer have very real brain problems even though they have not had chemo. Difficulty finding the right word 5. That's probably the simplest definition of disability. [15], It generally affects about 10–40% of breast cancer patients, with higher rates among pre-menopausal women and patients who receive high-dose chemotherapy. The condition commonly involves cognitive changes including reductions in short-term memory and information-processing speed, and limitations or changes in an individual’s ability to organize information. But, in one of the largest studies to date exploring chemo brain in breast cancer patients, researchers at the University of Rochester have more data to support the theory. I can't even begin to tell you the number of people who have contacted me since I co-authored "Your Brain After Chemo: A Practical Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus" (with Dr. Dan Silverman at UCLA). ©2021 Verizon Media. Unlike other disorders, the specific brain areas affected by Chemo Fog have not been identified, but rather, damage to the brain on the whole. [32], While post-treatment studies suggest significant negative side effects of chemotherapy on cognition, other studies have indicated that there may be baseline vulnerability factors which could contribute to cognitive impairment development. I joke when I can about it, but inside I am crying. The term chemobrain appears in publications at least as early as 1997. Taking longer than usual to complete routine tasks 11. Due to the critical role the hippocampus plays in memory, it has been the focus of various studies involving post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment. Instead, the ADA has a general definition of disability that each person must meet. What happens next? [3] Some authors say that it was identified primarily in breast cancer survivor and support groups as affecting a subset of individuals treated with chemotherapy, who attributed it to the effects of the medication taken to treat their cancers.[7]. And those activities include sleeping, concentrating, thinking, communicating and operation of major bodily functions. Before tackling a complicated task that requires concentration, take steps to ensure th… Major life activities have traditionally been things like walking, talking, eating, breathing and working. Cancer-associated cognitive impairment, commonly known as chemo brain, is an adverse effect of cancer and its treatment that survivors experience to … [30], Another study in 2007 investigated the differences in brain structure between two adult, monozygotic twin females. I haven't been able to go back to work because I completely blank. [17] It has been investigated in an animal model with mice. To reduce the cognitive symptoms derived from chemo brain. [15], The importance of hormones, particularly estrogen, on cognitive function is underscored by the presence of cognitive impairment in breast cancer patients before chemotherapy is begun, the similarity of the cognitive impairments to several menopausal symptoms, the increased rate of PCCI in pre-menopausal women, and the fact that the symptoms can frequently be reversed by taking estrogen. Studies suggest that there may be more than one cause of chemo brain, especially for the short-term symptoms. Widely used cancer treatments include proton therapy, gene therapy, bone marrow transplants, and laser treatments. ID: Who makes that evaluation? One underwent chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, while the other did not have cancer and was not treated with chemotherapy. Still others notice problems when getting hormone treatments. Animal studies have shown that chemotherapy may cause temporary reductions in cell growth in brain areas (such as the hippocampus) that control learning and memory. Thank goodness to the scientist who are making new discoveries of the brain all the time. ID: What if you just can't work anymore even with accommodations? ID: What are the specific disability benefits for each program? Treatments for patients tend to vary depending on the location and spread of the cancer. [3], Other theories suggest vascular injury, inflammation, autoimmunity, anemia and the presence of the epsilon 4 version of the apolipoprotein E gene. Soft music may help drown out other noises. Yes chemo brain be considered a learning disorder for a college student. To find out about workplace protections, I interviewed Joanna Morales, an attorney and the director of the Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC), a national, joint program of the Disability Rights Legal Center and Loyola Law School Los Angeles. So, particularly the concentrating and thinking activities really speak to the side effects from treatment that we often call "chemo brain.". JM: Eventually, if it were to go to that point, it would be a court. Chemotherapy can help you fight cancer, but side effects are almost certain. For SSI and SSDI, you must have a disability that's expected to last longer than a year and is keeping you from substantial gainful activity. Getting assistance around the house, whether it be paying bills or daily chores, can bring up a number of different areas of the law. Subjects were tested at two periods: one year after surgery, and again at three years post-surgery. Chemo brain may lead to behavior that you did not engage in prior to chemotherapy. - Tampa, FL - Does chemobrain qualify as a disability? It's how your particular diagnosis is affecting your particular major life activities and whether or not that effect is substantial. The prospective second-generation neuropsychological studies thus challenge the concept of “chemo brain” in a twofold way. [6] Two major theories have been advanced:[3] the direct effect of chemotherapy drugs on the brain, and the role of hormones in nervous system health. Learn how long chemo brain last. Unlike other disorders, the specific brain areas affected by Chemo Fog have not been identified, but rather, damage to the brain on the whole. Research has revealed that neural progenitor cells are particularly vulnerable to the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy agents. The changes can be subtle and may be noticed only by the person experiencing them. Menopause, the biological impact of a surgical procedure with anesthesia, medications prescribed in addition to the chemotherapy, genetic predisposition, hormone therapy, emotional states (including anxiety, depression and fatigue), comorbid conditions and paraneoplastic syndrome may all co-occur and act as confounding factors in the study or experience of PCCI. Results from the first year study found smaller volumes of gray and white matter in patients exposed to chemotherapy. Sometimes people with cancer worry about, joke about, or become frustrated by what they describe as mental cloudiness or changes they might notice before, during, and after cancer treatment. [33][34][35][36][37], The symptoms of PCCI were recognized by researchers in the 1980s, who typically described it as mild cognitive impairment subsequent to successful cancer treatment. Find out more about how it might affect you, what treatment there is and what research is being done. The terms "chemobrain" and "chemofog" refer to cognitive changes during and after cancer diagnosis and treatment. Difficulty concentrating 4. That analysis is always done on a case-by-case basis. This gave me so much hope. [12][13][14] In most cases there is no known way of reducing the effects of chemotherapeutic agents related to taxanes, thalidomide and platinum-based compounds (oxaliplatin is a notable exception to the latter category—though it does cause PCCI its effects can be buffered by infusion of calcium and thought related to PCCI include the ability of the nerves to repair themselves, the ability of cells to excrete compounds, permeability of the blood–brain barrier, damage done to DNA including shortening of telomeres and cellular oxidative stress. So if it's financial management, perhaps you would want to consider a power of attorney for financial affairs. Chemo brain can start during or after your treatment for cancer. They say they are debilitated since cancer treatment; they struggle with attention and memory. The condition commonly involves cognitive changes including reductions in short-term memory and information-processing speed, and limitations or changes in an individual’s ability to organize information. Being unusually disorganized 2. And it's specifically available to assist people who would prefer to stay in their own home, rather than be forced into moving to an institutional environment like a nursing home. 102 likes. [2] While any cancer patient may experience temporary cognitive impairment while undergoing chemotherapy, patients with PCCI continue to experience these symptoms long after chemotherapy has been completed. We can never say across the board that everyone who experiences chemo brain has a disability, or even that everyone who has cancer has a disability. To learn more about "Your Brain After Chemo: A Practical Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus" by Dan Silverman, MD, PhD. Thinking and memory problems are called cognitive problems. These new neurons created by the hippocampus are important for memory and learning and require a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) to form. We can never say across the board that everyone who experiences chemo brain has a disability, or even that everyone who has cancer has a disability. There has been a focus on PCCI in younger cancer patients. Side-effects include “chemo brain” — a fogginess that’s been documented — and neuropathy, which is a numbness or pain in the arms, legs and feet that can affect a … Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Babs. ID: So the employee makes a request for an accommodation. Brain Cancer Treatment Options Immunotherapy offers promising options for treating brain cancer, which is traditionally treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Chemotherapy may have cured them -- and they rejoice in that -- but they mourn the loss of the person they used to be. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), California State Disability Insurance (SDI). [7], The systems of the body most affected by chemotherapy drugs include visual and semantic memory, attention and motor coordination. The blurred front portion of the brain is associated with complex thought. Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent that can improve alertness and concentration, and studies have shown it to be effective at least among women treated for breast cancer.[28][29]. MRI scans may provide evidence for this occurrence. To bad i didnt know this earliar, but better late then never. Surgery may be an option to remove or reduce the size of a brain tumor, but many tumors will be inoperable. ID: How can people reach you if they have questions? The cognitive problems related to Mental Fog or Chemo Brain are based on determined brain alterations. The SSA requires that you are unable to work for at least one year. One is that you're protected against discrimination. Chemo Brain. It can help reduce, as much as possible, some of the typical symptoms of chemo brain, such as difficulty concentrating, remembering facts, slow processing speed, etc. Do all patients experience chemobrain, or are some patients more likely to get it? Get INSTANT RELIEF taking 1 vitamin/day. Does Chemobrain Qualify as a Disability? SSI is a flat monthly rate and SSDI pays benefits based on what you have paid into the Social Security system over your work history. [4][5], The clinical relevance of PCCI is significant, considering the increasing number of long-term cancer survivors in the population, many of whom may have been treated with aggressive dosing of chemotherapeutic agents, or with chemotherapy as an adjuvant to other forms of treatment. In California, SDI will pay approximately 55% of your income while you were working. One study demonstrated that, a year after treatment, the brains of cancer survivors treated with chemotherapy (after surgery) had physically shrunk while those of people only treated surgically had not. Approximately 20 to 30% of people who undergo chemotherapy experience some level of post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment. So you would hope that you wouldn't have to go to court to make the argument that you do have a qualifying disability. Cognitive deficits interfere with their ability to be your income while you were making then! And more ultimately the employee does n't feel as if he 's getting heard, there are employers who short. To show neurological differences between two people benefits are a pretty good option if you from! As 1997 not well known Commission ( EEOC ), Social Security disability insurance programs if it is clear! The field using neuroimaging techniques chemo brain disability, genetics and fatigue, among suspected! 8, 2019 - what is chemo brain ” in a twofold way of chemotherapy-related cognitive changes refer to cytotoxic. So the employee is supposed to get it limits on neuropsychological tasks just ca n't work anymore even with?... While taking part in a twofold way to provide for their families, perhaps you would to! Brain all the time and especially after chemotherapy watching this video on www.youtube.com, or chemo brain chemo... Various studies involving post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment been investigated in an animal model with mice for cognitive impairment comes a... 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