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Did breast cancer prematurely age your brain?

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Hi, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 hormone positive BC when I was 54. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy and had 16 lymph nodes removed which caused lymphedema (albeit mild, luckily). I’m going to be 61 in a few weeks and happy to say that as far as I know, I’m still cancer free. Yeah! But the disease and the hormone therapy (still have four years to go on those nasty drugs) have taken their toll on my body and, I suspect, my mind/brain. I feel mentally old. E.g., I’ve become very set in my ways, don't want to travel (i used to love it), don't like change and I go to bed by 8 pm every night.

I even had to retire from full time work as I don’t have the stamina any more.

So I ask the community, is it just natural aging or did cancer seem to prematurely age you too? I’m writing an article for my personal blog on Medium, so would love to hear if others have experienced this.

Please share your thoughts.

Thanks,

Joan

Comments

  • kbram
    kbram Member Posts: 63
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    YES!! You put into words what I have felt for so many years now. I was 53 when diagnosed and am now 68. It seems I have lost interest in so many things I used to love to do. I told a friend some years ago that I felt I had just lost a step and my zest for life. I want the joy back!

    Kathy

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 8,069
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    This is a interesting conversation…. we're so sorry this has happened. Would love to hear from others. Thanks for starting such an important topic.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,400
    edited October 2023
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    It is a thing. From the NIH… https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9606015/

    "Despite improvements in survival, over two-thirds of all cancer
    survivors will have at least one chronic health condition—some because
    of cancer therapy itself [
    2].
    While age is a risk factor for the development of cancer, the treatment
    of cancer, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery, and
    radiation therapy, can also accelerate biological aging processes."

  • krose53
    krose53 Member Posts: 74
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    I haven’t found this to be true for me. I was diagnosed at 64 and just had my 70th birthday. I’m on Arimidex and have 4 and 1/2 more years to go. I love travel and travel frequently. Love hanging with my 6 teenage grandkids. I started painting. I’m not good but I love it and my friend and I just got back from a week in Santa Fe doing everything Georgia O’Keefe. You sound like you might be depressed. Have you tried therapy or any antidepressants? I hope you feel better. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way.

  • beckymd
    beckymd Member Posts: 26
    edited October 2023
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    Yes, I can totally relate to this. I was first diagnosed with BC (stage 2) at age 39. I'm now stage 4 at age 66. Feel like I'm 80. Not sure whether it's the cancer itself or the treatments. I've had lots of years NED, but have had multiple surgeries, chemo, hormone, and targeted therapies. Problems now include osteoporosis, neuropathy, brain fog, anxiety, and fatigue. I think cancer will age us, for sure.

  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 931
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    While many people go through treatment and regain their former state of health, cancer and its treatment causes permanent damage in others. I was diagnosed with stage 2 BC and am NED but side effects of radiation have forced me to live like I am immunocompromised. I have wonderful doctors and have done PT, acupuncture, made dietary changes and exercise to the best of my ability but there is damage that can't be reversed and side effects that persist. To quote my pulmonologist, "Medicine is not magic."

    I feel a bit guilty that my husband has had to alter his life to protect mine. I'm not depressed but I am a bit envious of people who can visit with friends inside, eat at a restaurant, attend indoor musical and sporting events, travel on public transportation, and celebrate winter holidays with their families. Some people don't get it. My sister who is flying cross country to visit next month is miffed that all I can do with her is walk outside in the freezing weather; there were more outdoor options when she came in June and the weather was good.

    Most people will recover fully and continue to live their former lives. However, by unfortunate chance, some of us will be stuck with bodies that have been permanently aged. The myth of breast cancer cure for all is a misconception. I hope others will understand and respect that.