Chemo brain refers to the cognitive changes that people with cancer may experience before, during and after cancer treatment. These changes may include having trouble with mental tasks related to attention span, thinking, and short-term memory. Many people describe this as a mental fog. The condition is common in cancer patients and survivors, and sometimes it continues for quite a while after treatment.
Chemo brain is quite a common condition, but of course that’s no consolation to people affected by it. In a busy work environment, even the simplest tasks can seem difficult to accomplish and get right. Making what seem to be silly, unforced, mistakes quickly undermines an employee’s confidence – and naturally, it can sometimes affect a manager’s confidence in their employee too. This in turn can affect how quickly and effectively your employee returns to work.
So, as an employer, how can you help an employee experiencing this condition?
So as you can see, there are a number of things you can do to support an employee suffering with chemo brain. Research is still going on to find an effective treatment so, while this is the case, be alert to this condition and, if need be, seek advice and support from Macmillan or organisations like Working With Cancer
For more Macmillan information on chemo brain, visit the Macmillan website. For more information on our resources and training to help support staff with cancer, please visit www.macmillan.org.uk/atwork
For more information, sign up to Macmillan at Work. As well as providing employers with free information and resources, Macmillan can also provide training for HR and line managers. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbara Wilson is Founder of Working with Cancer. For more information, visit workingwithcancer.co.uk
Useful article, thanks!! Now to find a gentle way to get this info to my employer.....
Great article. I would add that I suffer from cognitive impairment after treatment, and would argue it does not only just affect those who have had chemo. I had major surgery for my cancer, and my local Maggies Centre and the Beatson Specialist Work Service team have both stressed that the trauma on the brain means cognitive impairment is very common regardless of the type of treatment a patient has received for their cancer. It would be great if the literature to support employers could cover this - the difficulty in calling it chemo brain means employers may believe mental fog only affects those who have had chemo.