What is “Brain Fog” and why does it happen?


“Brain Fog” is one of the terms given to an array of neurocognitive deficits which are often reported by cancer patients and survivors following cancer chemotherapy and/or other cancer treatments. Cognitive dysfunction can include the loss of ability to remember certain things, learn new skills, or complete certain tasks.

Cognitive changes are real – not imagined – and can cause problems in everyday life, such as short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, losing train of thought mid-sentence, mixing-up metaphors, or making up words. It is important to differentiate “brain fog” from reduced brain function caused by sleep deprivation, fatigue, and worry, which can occur even BEFORE chemotherapy or other treatments for cancer begin.

The causes of cognitive impairment are not entirely clear; many factors combine to produce symptoms. Possible factors or contributors are: 1) the cancer itself, particularly cancers of the brain, 2) cancer treatments, 3) complications of cancer treatment, 4) emotional reactions to cancer diagnoses and treatment (stress is a medical condition which can affect brain  physiology).

Please join us to gain a deeper understanding of this condition and learn how to better manage it – there are many tips and tools available. Seating is limited, so take this opportunity to connect to others who are also facing this syndrome by registering for our free workshop here. 

“By becoming an active participant in your fight for recovery, along with your healthcare team, you’ll have a better quality of life.”                                                                                                     Michael Sieverts (10-year cancer survivor and patient advocate).


Surviving Cancer

Autumn country - woman walk dog in meadowSUSIE YOUNG, R.D.  |  OCTOBER 1, 2014

The word “cancer” experienced during a doctor visit is frightening, and the subsequent treatment truly changes a person forever. As a registered dietitian, I have patients ask me if specific diets or supplements “will cure their cancer.”  Below, I will list three common traits that are consistent among cancer patients who seem to do the best during treatment and who recover quickly once treatment has finished.

The most successful survivors I have seen follow three lifestyle patterns. Their success does not depend on the type of cancer, gender, stage of disease, or age – but rather the consistent pattern of these three things; decreasing stress, expanding diet variety and increasing fruits and vegetables, and exercising on a daily basis

1.  Decreasing stress – Successful patients will do two things to decrease stress; surround themselves with loving and supportive people and practice meditation and/or relaxation. This does not mean patients become dependent on others. Instead, they spend time with friends and family members who offer support, love, and respect. They also find time to relax and decompress every day. This mindfulness may just be 5 minutes of watching the birds out of your kitchen window: the key is to find the time to stop – and focus – on what is right in front of you.

2.  Increase variety of diet and eat more fruits and vegetables – The most successful patients eat a minimum of 5 vegetables and 2 fruits per day. There is always an ongoing debate about juicing or eating only vegetables and avoiding fruit due to its sugar content. The argument for either diet plan is unproven and can cause nutrient deficiencies and stress (see point #1). A far better way to eat is to include variety – eat broccoli, mushrooms, onions, berries, bananas, apples, melons, cabbage, Swiss chard, beets, potatoes – yeah, you get the picture. Eat it all, and if you want to become obsessive focus on adding variety. This rule is true for protein sources, dairy products, and whole grains. Eat it all and don’t feel guilty or create more stress.

3.  Complete some type of exercise on a daily basis, even if the exercise lasts 5 or 10 minutes. Exercise boosts the immune system, stabilizes blood sugars, maintains muscle mass, provides a social outing, decreases constipation, improves sleep patterns, decreases stress (see point #1), and improves overall mood and outlook.

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