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Workshop Helps Cancer Survivors Manage Effects of Chemo Brain

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DES MOINES, Iowa –People battling cancer face many struggles, including side effects from treatment. Doctors are gaining more understanding of something that's often been talked about, but hasn't really been studied.

A cancer diagnosis caught Elizabeth Fisher off guard. Fisher said, "I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of 2015."

She went through 21 weeks of chemo and four weeks of radiation and was prepared for the physical side effects. But, what happened after the treatment is really what surprised her. "I think the most surprising thing was the chemo brain as I came through because you're already devastated,  right? You're physically exhausted. You're having struggled to get back into a normal routine of life, and then all of a sudden you realize I'm not functioning at the level I was before."

Chemo brain is something that's been talked about vaguely, but Speech Language Pathologist  Kamela Kleppe Yeager says it's starting to be more understood. "There's a whole series of problems people will experience, foggy headed, difficulty, multi-tasking, hard to concentrate, word finding problems, memory problems, just not themselves."

To help cancer survivors learn about chemo brain and the effects of it, John Stoddard Cancer Center is hosting a workshop. It's called managing the effects of chemo brain. Kleppe Yeager is trying to get the word out so cancer survivors know tools are available to improve cognitive function.

"It's typically about controlling your environment, compensating for it. I believe strongly if you understand what's wrong, it's a lot easier to do something about it."

Fisher said the therapy has helped her. "So, you can still think as well as you did before. You just have to think differently,” she said.

The "Managing the Effects of Chemo Brain" is February 21st at 5:30 p.m. at the John Stoddard Cancer Center. You can register online.