BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For years people with cancer have worried about, joked about, and been frustrated by the mental cloudiness they sometimes notice before, during, and after cancer treatment.
Some doctors and patients see a link between memory problems and chemotherapy. November's Buddy to Buddy report focuses on Terry Coolong and her battle with "Chemo Brain".
It's a familiar term to cancer survivors, who say treatments can cause thinking and memory problems.
Coolong says, "I asked my daughter to go get those things from the kitchen that cut paper. I know it's scissors. I could actually see the word scissors. I could of spelled it for her, but I could not say the word. And that's kinda how my chemo brain manifested."
Chemo fog was a term Terry knew very little about until she was diagnosed with invasive ductile carcinoma on her 45th birthday. She wanted to beat breast cancer. But she didn't realize all the side effects that come along with cancer treatment.
Coolong says, "I felt like my thinking was really slowing down and I was having a lot of problems and grasping words."
Dr. Robert Ferguson says patients will complain that remembering what was said, or what a person read and recalling conversations can be challenging after undergoing chemotherapy.
Ferguson says, "The memory problem does not get more progressive over time it's very important that all cancer patients be aware of. People will not end up with an Alzheimer type dementia." He adds, "When they are resuming their normal level of activity and going back to work full time-- there is some interference and not able to perform at the speed at which they wish too."
In time, Coolong realized this is her new normal. She learned to accept that a new normal is what you are going to live with for the rest of your life. Coolong says, "So, you can either fight against it or you can accept it and try to do the best that you can."
Dr. Ferguson says 'chemo brain' isn't something to deter you from cancer treatment it's just a possible side effect found in some cancer patients. He is researching new cognitive behavioral therapy, that's helping patients change and modify their thinking and behavior.
AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- We talk a lot about cancer, but
what can we really do to help? One woman broke out of the box in coming
up with a way to support patients and their families. She just happened
to set a Guinness World Record in the process.
Karate is about
strength, both mentally and physically. At the Phoenix Karate Studio in
Auburn, Donna Harris is always looking for ways to teach her students
valuable lessons about life.
And some of those lessons are painful.
Last year, Donna, along with everyone here at NEWS CENTER, lost a dear friend and colleague.
Murray Paige battled metastatic breast cancer for 10 years. In that
time she produced a documentary, wrote a book, and started a foundation
to help cancer families.
Donna says Ann was the strongest woman
she knew. That Ann always told her you have to show up. Donna says "
This is my way of showing up for breast cancer awareness."
Donna's attempt to get in the record books for the most pine boards
broken, by hand, by a woman, in a minute. She tried it last year and
raised money for Ann's foundation "Project Pink". But she did not break
This year she has been training hard, and decided to try again.
On Saturday, surrounded by her karate students and families, Donna went for the record again at the Lewiston Armory.
She had to break a hundred boards to get in the record books. She broke 161.
But as she told all who turned out.. this was not about her.
"My battle didn't include chemo and radiation and surgery. Those are the truly strong people. "
Click here to donate.
All money goes to Ann's foundation "Project Pink" which supports
cancer patients and donates Ann's book to the newly diagnosed.