Living with cancer blog

Cancer survivors, keep your brain in shape

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. February 21, 2015

I'm the first to admit that I have a terrible time remembering things. I forget names, lunch dates and birthdays all the time. I use every possible tool to keep my brain as organized as possible by updating my calendar, using reminders and keeping lists.

Let's talk about some ideas to keep your brain in shape. Many cancer survivors are living with side effects from treatment, which can cause memory loss and changes in cognition (sometimes called brain fog or chemo brain).

One of the best ways to organize your thoughts is by keeping an updated calendar and task list. There are so many tools to help with this from paper calendars or organizers to applications (apps) on your smartphone or tablet.

Pick one tool and use it for everything. Most tools allow you to update your schedule and keep a running task list, special notes and other information such as contacts.

Another great strategy is to organize your living space. Find ways to organize documents such as medical records, appointment information, mail and others. Create a separate location (or folder, desk drawer or basket) where these items are placed.

It's important to keep items in the same location each time so that you can easily find them later. This works great for your car keys, cell phone and purse or wallet as well.

Here are a few other ideas:

  • Slow down and focus your attention — use all of your senses to be present and in the moment
  • Play games to keep your brain active — word games, puzzles or other challenging games such as chess
  • Get creative — get back into knitting, quilting, painting or other artistic activities that you love
  • Try new things — take a class, explore a new language, try new technology
  • Exercise — people who are physically active may see a positive effect on their memory and brain function

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic. What's worked well for you?


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

23 Comments Posted

Feb. 21, 2015