There are some who may want to forget their ordeal with cancer, but a researcher in Sudbury wants to help patients who have suffered memory loss following their treatments.  

A neuro-psychologist at the Northeast Cancer Centre in Sudbury is leading a 10-week rehabilitation study with cancer survivors who have completed chemotherapy.

Dr. Matias Mariani will be working with patients like Nicole Blais, who was halfway through her breast cancer treatments when she started drawing blanks.

"I distinctively remember one incident, talking to the physiotherapist and I got very overwhelmed because I could not even remember one of my children's name in the conversation," she said.

Blais said it wasn't until after she finished her chemotherapy treatments that her memory was restored.

"[It was] probably the better part of a year for me to feel I had returned to somewhat normal functions of my memory," she said.


A Sudbury researcher is hoping to find out why one in four patients who experience memory loss during chemotherapy don't fully recover. (Jae Hong/Associated Press)

But Blais' experience isn’t always typical. Mariani said one in four patients who experience memory loss during chemotherapy don't fully recover.

He wants to know why that is, and he'd like to learn how to restore these lost functions. He will bring 10 breast cancer survivors through a rehabilitation program to gain better insight.

"That taps into various aspects of attention, planning, organization and goal-directed behaviour," he said.

Mariani said, if successful, this study may gain insight into how to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors after their treatments.

"The benefits to the patients in this case may be potential improvement in their every day functioning, quality of life, and overall thinking ability," he said.