Side Effects of Chemo

by Val

I finished chemotherapy yesterday and should be celebrating the end of that chapter. The reality is that it doesn’t feel like the end of a chapter. I get a six week break because we have put my body through a lot and at the end of the six weeks we repeat CT scans to make sure all the cancer is gone My assumption is that radiation will follow those scans.

This morning I realized that I probably have not done a great job of sharing all the side effects that I experienced during chemotherapy. That’s important piece to share.

  • Chemo has made me have a runny nose pretty consistently. It can be fine one minute and the next we got a situation if I don’t attend to it quickly. This started with AC and continued throughout.
  • I have had some pretty good gas pains, or that is my guess on what it is. I can almost feel it working it’s way through my system and at the bends is where it hurts the most.
  • I get hot flashes and/or night sweats. Since our goal is to keep me in a menopausal state I suspect this will continue for quiet a long time. I will be taking hormone suppressors for likely 10 years at least.  Lucky for me with the hot flashes they are not extreme and I run cold anyway.
  • My sleep is sporadic. I seem to like to wake at like 1:11,  2:22, 3:33, 4:44, etc. I think there is name for that but see next side effect…

The rest of this started after I started Taxol.

  • When my nose is not running and just needs to be blown I have nose bleeds. Not gushers but still was alarming at first.
  • My eyebrows did thin some. Some people lose them after the last Taxol so we’ll see if that is the case.
  • My face flushes for two or three days after treatment. It’s warm but doesn’t hurt. I think this is a minor reaction to Benadryl. 
  • I have neuropathy in my fingers and toes which means they tingle and are numb. I have been dropping a lot of things and that is frustrating. Plus side, if I drop them on my toes then I don’t feel it anyway if they are numb. Fingers are not numb/tingle all the time. It comes and goes. This is tolerable when I’m patient with myself.
  • I’ve shared about the bone pain/joint pain before. You can read more about it here.

To end the show we have Chemo Brain.

Chemo brain has started to set in or as I prefer to call it chemo thinky thing. I forget how to spell things that I definitely know. I use wrong words when I am writing something. This isn’t new for when I am talking but it is in my writing. We’ll see how many I find in here after hitting post.


Then there are moments like this picture. This is what I did this morning. This also isn’t necessarily a new thing but I don’t normally follow through in the act of actually placing the item wherever I start to. I may open the cabinet but then realize. Nope not today. Plunked the almond milk down right under the sink. Luckily there are still some cells firing right up there that said “Hey I don’t think that belongs there” before I shut the cabinet. My attention span can be short at times but now it’s shorter. I cannot try to do too much at once or else I will get overwhelmed. 

So I think that is it. That list is still so minimal compared to many others experience. I’ve been blessed. I attribute that to attitude, being as proactive as I can possibly be and being open to more than just conventional medicine. Reiki helped do something because I felt lighter of stress and worry afterwards . Getting back to Dr. Nicole (my chiropractor) was a must. I believe that acupuncture has helped minimize some of the symptoms I listed, especially the bone and joint pain. Meditation might help chemo thinky thing so I probably should get my butt on the floor and do that. 

My time of eating everything under the sun is coming to an end. Lack of appetite was not a side effect I wrestled with at all. I’m giving myself until Monday. Monday is always a good day to start new right? I’m not sure which Monday but one soon. 

I think it’s also time for me to become the yogi in practice that I am in my head or maybe tai chi-est. 

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