Personality Changes in Cancer Patients

chemo personality changes

How can cancer impact someone’s personality?

There isn’t a “right” way to deal with cancer. Sadness, anger, hope, numbness, fear, determination, denial: the list of feelings you might experience along the journey is endless, and you have every right to feel them. However, if you notice a very sudden change in your own behaviour, or someone you care for seems very different since their diagnosis or treatment, there might be something else going on too.

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Nic Naish: Foods to Help With Chemo Brain

Nic Naish's Weekly Exercise and Nutrition Tips - 18th May

During my chemotherapy months I definitely experienced what I called “chemo fog”.
Chemo brain or to give it it’s proper names ” Mild Cognitive Impairment – MCI ” or “Chemotherapy-induced Cognitive Dysfunction” is a real issue for some people. I didn’t suffer too badly and apart from funny stories of misplacing my husband’s shoes and finding them a couple of days later in the freezer (true story!) I was able to work around the odd foggy day.

However, for some it is quite debilitating. This frustrating phenomenon can have a significant impact on daily life at an already challenging time. Chemo brain refers to changes in memory, concentration and the ability to think clearly and process. Accompanying extreme tiredness, patients complain of a lack of alertness and energy levels, trouble with multi-tasking and decision making, retrieving words and names and general processing speed.

Brain imaging studies clearly indicate that anti-cancer drug therapies cause both acute and chronic changes in brain structure. Cell studies suggest that the symptoms are likely due to drug-induced neurotoxicity. Our wondrous bodies are constantly monitoring levels and triggering automatic responses to changes in temperatures, chemicals, concentration levels etc., etc. One such defence mechanism is the release of tiny proteins called cytokines that attack any ‘nasties’ in our body. Think of them as little cell signalling molecules that aid cell to cell communication within the immune system. They stimulate movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma. Chemotherapy drugs have been shown to significantly increase the production of these cytokines which can cause detrimental effects across the entire body.

If it seems that I’m attributing all the blame to chemotherapy drugs, I apologise. The blame lays almost completely with one thing… chronic INFLAMMATION!

Cancer itself will cause inflammation and this may result as inflammation in the brain also.

Anxiety will undoubtedly cause inflammation.

Depression causes inflammation.

Smoking causes inflammation.

Lack of exercise can cause inflammation.

A poor diet, high in sugars and processed foods will most definitely cause inflammation – as will a diet rich in meat, alcohol and dairy.

However not all inflammation is bad. Your body’s inflammatory response is essential and natural for you to heal. This response tells your body to send white blood cells and chemicals to help fight off infection or repair an injury. Prolonged inflammation on the other hand can damage your body’s healthy cells and weaken your immune system and as we have just learned…cause chemo fog/brain!!

So can we lessen the effects of chemo fog/ chemo brain?


By reducing the inflammation.

Here are my top anti-inflammatory foods…


  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Broccoli
  • Green leafy veg
  • Celery
  • Beetroot
  • Blueberries
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Pineapple
  • Salmon (wild is best)
  • Bone broth

If you want any recipe ideas give me a shout, remember the WHOLE family will benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet. Have fun cooking and trying new things!

Nic x


5 tips to help you beat chemo brain

5 tips for Chemo Brain

Chemo brain commonly involves cognitive changes including trouble remembering names, difficulty concentrating or paying attention, lapses in short-term memory and being forgetful.

It is important to know you’re not alone and that lots of people living with cancer suffer from the side effects of chemo brain. Many of you responded to our news story on chemo brain saying “Nice to read I am not on my own” and “I thought it was just me.”


Any kind of yoga or mindfulness practices such as sitting or walking meditation can improve your ability to pay attention. Mindfulness exercises can help you to identify, tolerate and reduce difficult feelings and give you some control. They can also help improve your mental wellbeing and memory retention which can make you sleep better reducing forgetfulness. We’ve even written an article with 5 easy mindfulness exercises to get you started.

Brain Exercises

Cognitive practices such as crosswords, sudoku and jigsaw puzzles can help to help to strengthen your mental ability. You can find these in your local paper, in a puzzle book or online. A group of researchers found that 40 minutes a day, 4 times a week for 15 weeks resulted in a significant improvement of these cognitive symptoms, showing that online exercises helped toreduce the patient’s experience of chemo brain.

Moderate Physical Exercise

Memory and decision-making abilities have been shown to improve after mild to moderate physical exercise. A good place is start is a gentle midday walk. Be careful if you are fatigued and always check with your medical health team about the best form of exercise for you.

Ask For Support

Don’t be afraid to tell people and ask for support. Ask your friends, family and medical treatment team to repeat information or write down new information. Record important conversations so you can listen to them again to fill in the areas that you may have forgotten.

Work On Your Strengths

Remember what you do well! And then build on these areas – whether it’s cooking, playing board games or telling stories. This will help develop your concentration levels and your memory while doing something you enjoy.

One final thing to remember – it’s simple but true – you probably notice your problems much more than others do. So try to be confident and honest with people around you when you’re struggling, so you can get through the “brain fog” together.


Online puzzle exercises used to tackle chemo brain

Study finds chemo brain exercises help with symptoms

chemo brain exercises

People experiencing problems with their memory and concentration following chemotherapy treatment can help overcome symptoms using simple online brain training exercises.

Cancer survivors often comment on both memory and concentration problems after having had chemotherapy treatment, this is often refered to as ‘chemo brain’.

A group of researchers found that 40 minutes a day, four times a week for 15 weeks of online brain training resulted in a significant improvement of these cognitive symptoms.

Continue reading “Online puzzle exercises used to tackle chemo brain”