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Severe memory loss 2 mos after radiation

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My mom had WBR this summer. Her last treatment was August 15th. However, she has completely lost her short term memory and it's only started happening over the past 3 weeks or so. It's as if she has dementia or alzheimers. It has gotten progressively worse every day this week. She doesn't remember to eat or take her meds. We (her 2 sisters and I) take turns going over and giving her Ensure shakes and her medications. Mom lives with her 96-yr-old father. My grandpa can take care of himself, still works in his home office, handles his stock, bills, etc. all day. He tries to help Mom by bringing a glass of water in to her room so she can take her meds, but we realized the other day that she drinks the water...yet doesn't take one single pill. We've organized all her pills and tried to make it simple, but nothing helps. We've finally hired a woman to come in 3 times a day to give Mom her meds and make her a shake when my aunts and I are not available. She starts tomorrow.

Mom is so confused. She's in a constant mental fog. And she knows she's not remembering stuff. Her memory lasts about 2 minutes, if that. We're trying to stay positive because her doctors (both pulmonary and oncologist) have told us that these are the effects of radiation but that it "should be" temporary. It's scary because Mom is so different. The steroids she was on completely destroyed the muscle in her legs. She is physically weak. She has lost 30 lbs since June. And because she hasn't been eating, I really think this is contributing to her overall weakness and confusion. But she's throwing up to. I know it was from nausea a while ago, now I wonder if it's occurring because her stomach can't handle food anymore. She can eat tiny meals, but that's pushing it. Tonight we all had dinner at the table and had her come sit with us. My aunt made her a plate, but the smell of the food was making Mom sick. I could see it in her face. So I took away her plate after she took 2 bites because she kept trying to whisper to me that she couldn't eat. She wasn't sure who had made it and if she would hurt someone's feelings, so she was whispering and trying to tell me secretly. I told her it was fine and that she didn't have to eat anything she didn't want on the plate, but that she had to eat SOMETHING tonight. So, I brought her a bowl with 2 hard boiled egg whites in it. She actually put a little salt & pepper and ate 1 1/2 egg whites. Her dr.'s said she needs protein and calories. Egg whites were suggested because they have no strong flavor and she might be able to get them down.

I'm just scared because the brain damage has hit so hard in the past 2 weeks that it's shocking. Has anyone dealt with this? How long did it last? Were there any permanent changes?



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tova I did not have this problem with Deb.. Wish i had some answers! I do have some prayers for mom and the Family though.

I would e careful with the egg whites also because They are considered diuretics and basically make you urinate more but that small amount should be ok. Make sure mom at least stays on the shakes. With weight loss that drastic cachexia is setting in right now and that is hard to fight. Not saying it can't be beaten but its a tough road. This is probably what is going on with her legs. Cachexia is a loss of body muscle caused by not getting enough nutrients. At last she is drinking the shakes. Now some of the effects are probably the radiation. And You may want to see if Mom is getting meds to help fight the nausea. Last and least fave is the feeding tube option. Was this discussed by chance??

Just throwing some things to YA to think about and maybe check on is all I am doing...

Thoughts Prayers and Hugs in the meantime!!

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My husband, Bill, had WBR over two years ago. The initial side effects were, as you say, short-term- memory-loss oriented.

He did get over the majority of that. There are residual effects now, with mostly asking me what day and date it is, but once shown the calendar, he puts it all together.

We, of course, are talking two years and four motnhs later. That, and the fact that Bill is, after all, going to be 79 this week, puts a different slant on things.

I say all this, and it might or might not help, but we saw a neurologist for Bill's symptoms. Bill had a sliver of fluid on the right periphery of his brain (from WBR) and that needed to be watched. Still watching.

Our concentration was on nutrition. We were fearful because, as Randy noted, loss of weight/nutrition was something to be avoided.

Bill, to this day, eats well. He has lost his original weight through more recent chemotherapy, but is maintaining 165, or so, and is active, albeit, not the man he once was. He was quite a bit heavier before dx. Chemo has given him some side effects.

For extra nutrients, we bought shakes (sugarless), and gave him choices of things to eat.

Sorry to go on like this, but wanted to say also do not be hesitant to ask questions of the doctors. It's important for them to be on the same page - all of them (the team).

Sending you good thoughts and hoping your Mom's symptoms subside,


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I am so sorry. Remember, your mom and I underwent WBR at the same time. I have had no problems at all but I am on a clinical trial of an approved Altzheimers drug to see if that will help with memory loss associated with WBR.

I am wondering - your mom and I ended at the same time. I have already had one follow-up MRI of the brain (which was clear) and scheduled for another in November. Has your mom had one since she finished. Just a thought that maybe something else is going on.

Will be sending my prayers that this problem ends soon for her. Keep us posted.

Hugs - Patti B.

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I'm so glad to see you on the computer. =) My first thought was about YOU when I posted. My mom would NEVER be able to get on the computer now. I noticed symptoms a few weeks ago when she couldn't remember how to send an email. Because the headaches have never fully gone away, she was given another MRI just one month into radiation. The radiologist said they don't normally have an MRI done so soon after treatment, but they needed to make sure there wasn't something else going on. The scan looked fine. Tumors were shrinking and dying. Her pulmonary said that sometimes there is nerve damage done from WBR and that might be causing the pain. She's on 24 hour pain meds. Which I hope doesn't last.

The woman we've hired to come in & give her meds and feed her was there this morning when I stopped by. She made Mom a 12 oz Ensure shake & Mom drank it all. I was impressed! We just got a new prescription to stimulate her appetite and it seems to be working! Yeah!!! Usually she only drinks 4 oz. So, this is hopeful.

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Tova, I'm really sorry to hear of the difficulties your mom is having. It sounds to me like her spirit is still very intact and she's doing everything she can to get out of this rough spot. It was especially touching to read about last night at dinner when she couldn't eat but didn't want to offend the person who had prepared the food. No wonder you love her so much!


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