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Can cancer effect your mind?

  • #2
    Registered Users Posts: 7 ✭✭✭ AmbreSolaire

    My grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year ago, in the last couple of months her health has really declined,shes been in and out of hospital with infections which caused her more grief than the cancer itself but shes lost a staggering amount of weight and only wants to sleep all the time. Shes also dealt with allot of depression over the past year which is understandable. Despite all of this her mind has always been active, she's always been like a 30 year old in an elderly persons body.
    She ended up back in hospital a few weeks ago with another infection, the infection has since been cleared up but she hasnt 'come back from it' shes slowly deteriorated since... now on top of this her mind is going, shes speaking to dead relatives like theyre in the room, asking random incoherent questions and making no sense at all. The cancer hasnt spread, shes no infections, shes not on any different medication - does anyone have experience with this? Or what could be causing it? is this normal for cancer patients?


  • #2

    You really need to be talking to her gp AmbreSolaire.

    I don't know about cancer particularly, but experience with relatives has shown that what you are describing can be a fairly normal pattern. Person is sick with whatever problem, goes along fairly smoothly then has a bit of an issue with an infection, a 'turn', whatever. Gradually they improve but never quite to the same state that they were before. This can go on for quite a considerable period of time and I doubt there is any way of knowing how long it will last or how many 'turns' a person may have.

    This is only personal experiece though, and as I say, only her gp or consultant can really tell you what is happening - and even they will not really be able to give you definitive information.

    Its a difficult time for relatives, hang in there, all best wishes.

  • #2

    To be honest, with age can often come such confusion and, in some cases, dementia.
    And this also coincides with the sort of life stage when certain kinds of disease appears and, for what of a better word, is "managed" by a healthcare team.
    With such a diagnosis comes a succession of strange locations in various hospitals and clinics, which can only add to the confusion.

    The sleeping is reminiscent of the irish thing of "taking to the bed" but is also an indicator of depression, which is entirely understandable and not particularly a sign of a "mental disorder" in such a circumstance, though it should me monitored given her history.

    In answer to the bigger question about cancer affecting the mind, it certainly can, especially if it is causing chronic symptoms that are not abating.
    People's sense of pain, especially degree of pain, is incredibly subjective and may change over time and with their condition, what one person may not experience as pain may be agony for someone else, and people of faith often identify pain as a part of the process of suffering on this earth and may not wish for it to be treated.

    Overall I would say a referral to a geriatrician is needed, via her GP, and then they can look holistically at her and hopefully provide some answers and a treatment pathway forward.

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