Changes to the way you think and process information
Some cancer treatments can affect your ability to learn and concentrate. Some of these changes are temporary and can get better with time.
You might find the treatment you had for your cancer has affected your ability to learn. You might find it harder to concentrate or remember things. You may not notice any problems till a while after treatment ends. It’s important to remember that some of the changes may be temporary and can improve in time.
Some days I can go into school and it's just all way over my head – I don't have a clue. And I just cannot settle down and concentrate. It's as if it's going in one ear and going straight out the other ear. But I only get that every so often, usually I'm absolutely fine.
Some treatments (such as radiotherapy to the head, chemotherapy and hormonal therapies) can affect how the brain works. Some people can get something called ‘chemo-brain’, which you may have heard people talk about. Doctors are not sure why some people get ‘chemo-brain’.
It can be frustrating if you find you aren’t able to do things you used to be able to do. It might make you feel isolated from your friends, because their lives are carrying on as normal when you have to cope with so much. It’s natural to feel like that. But your friends should understand why you might not be able to do all the work they can. Most of your friends should be understanding and help you get used to life after treatment.
It might take some time for you to get used to the changes that have happened since your treatment. But you don't have to cope with things on your own. There are people there to help:
I'd go in for the morning lesson and then my tutor would come pick me up and bring me home to tutor me, so she was wonderful. She kept me going and kept on pushing me to carry on and not to give up because it was all too hard and too much.
- If you feel you could do with some extra support, speak to the learning support team at your school, college or university. There are tests that can be done to see what support you need. They may be able to offer help with particular subjects and suggest ways to support your learning.
- Even though your treatment is over, you can still speak to your treatment team about ways to cope with any changes in your ability to learn. They may refer you to doctors and nurses from other specialities to help you cope. Your school, college or university might want to speak to your doctors and nurses so they can work together to help you. This will only happen with your permission though.
It’s important to remember that some of the changes may be temporary and can improve in time. There are also different ways of helping the brain to recover. Your treatment team may be able to point you in the right direction for support with this.
We have more info about mild cognitive impairment. This information is written for people of all ages, not just for young adults.