Chemotherapy is one of the most effective tools for combating breast cancer. Unfortunately, the very thing that helps women ultimately feel better initially makes them feel lousy.
Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which can grow and divide quickly, according to Cancer.gov. But it can also harm healthy cells, such as those that line the mouth and intestines, and stop hair from growing.
Additional side effects include fatigue, pain, nausea, vomiting, decreased blood cell counts, hair loss, and mouth sores, Cancer.gov says.
It’s the fatigue that often causes a type of brain fog in cancer sufferers that can last long after chemotherapy stops, according to some studies.
Dr. Paul Fishkin told the Associated Press last month that chemo brain is one of the survivorship issues cancer patients deal with. This area of cancer fatigue or 'chemo brain' is real and not as well understood as it should be," said Fishkin of Oncology Hematology Associates of Central Illinois. Click here to read that story
One company believes it has come up with a product that can help battle this fog and help cancer patients get their minds back on track.
MindFit Back on Track is a software program developed by the company, CogniFit to help chemotherapy patients exercise their brains to maintain mind “fitness” throughout and after chemotherapy treatment.
“Twenty to 30 percent or more of people exposed to chemotherapy complain that for months and sometimes years after treatments stop, they have the inability to focus and to remember things,” said Shlomo Breznitz, founder and president of CogniFit, which has offices in New York and Israel. “We’ve found in previous research that MindFit helps the elderly stave off mental decline and can do the same to help cancer patients battle chemo-fog.”
MindFit, which costs $129 for downloadable version of the program and $149 for a CD-ROM, provides users with a series of mind-fitness exercises. The company recommends using the program for 20 minutes two to three times a week. A demo is available at the company’s Web site, www.cognifit.com. Many of the exercises use shapes and puzzles to help users rebuild attention and multitasking skills.
The program is tailored for each individual according to the symptoms they are experiencing.
“We don’t want people to find it too taxing or too boring because then they won’t use it," Breznitz said. "So it’s geared to each user and can even be geared to different kinds of age groups.”