15 Side Effects of Chemotherapy


Often times, I'm asked about the side effects of chemotherapy. I decided to compile a list of a few gross and funny things we experience after sitting in "the chair" for six hours taking in ABVD. 

1. Nausea: Between nausea and steroids, our appetites are a holy mess. They both contradict each other. The steroids forcefully made your zombie walk to the fridge in the middle of the night to eat an entire pumpkin pie to yourself. Then, of course, you vomit it up.

2. Hair Loss: We don't just lose hair where you can visually see it, (ahem) down there. You're a naked mole rat who saves money on razors and shaving cream.

3. Medicine Farts: The mixture of medications can cause gassiness, therefore, creating "Medicine farts." Be prepared for some crop-dusting.

4. Tingling Fingers: Our version of spidey sense is tingling fingers and toes from nerve changes. Have you ever had your hand or foot fall asleep? Imagine something similar but all throughout your body with a tingling sensation.

5. Canker Sores: Mouth sores will secure you a "special" mouthwash prescription that's as thick as Pepto Bismol. This is like another level of canker sores you never experienced. If you know someone experiencing this, ask about Biotene mouth oral rinse.

6. Taste Buds: Your taste buds may acquire a bitter, metallic taste that will make you want to vomit. Everything that looks delicious never hits the spot.

7. Smell Master: You will have a heightened sense of smell. This does not help with the nausea side effect.

8. Sore: You may get a deep, constant, dull ache, or a sharp, sporadic pain throughout your body. In other words, you'll feel like you're trapped in an 80-year-old body.

9. Fat Gain: "Thanks, chemo, for making me swell up," said no one ever. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who has cancer loses weight. Between poisoning your body and steroids, you may notice your pants not fitting and swelling in your face. Even if you eat incredibly healthy, the steroids that help you from vomiting will most likely make you gain weight. This depends on the treatment and the person.

10. Potty Breaks: You'll need extra bathroom breaks because you'll feel like a pregnant woman on a mission to find a bathroom and urinate the smallest drip of water.

11. Chemo Brain: The constant feeling of mental dysfunction, forgetfulness, and clumsiness.

12. Cough Phobia: Having a panic attack when you hear someone cough because you're highly prone to infection. While I'm on this subject, not everyone who wears masks out in public is contagious. I wore a mask as extra protection from germs. PS. Teach your children to cough into their elbow.

13. Sun Magnet: Spraying pounds of suntan lotion on because you're more susceptible to sunburn. Don't forget the cream.

14. Can't Sleep Tired: Fatigue and insomnia are at war. Our body is tired, but our mind is wired. We are so tired and can't get out of bed but also can't sleep. This is the dilemma during the entire treatment.

15. Emotional: People take your anxiousness, stress, and sadness as a bipolar condition. It's okay to educate them on what's going on with your mind and body. Talking about it helps everyone involved. Your family and friends are also experiencing emotions that they can't explain, either. They can't possibly know what you're experiencing. At the same time, you will feel crazy, and that's actually normal. At other times you will be tempted to close yourself off and shut down from the people who love you the most. Just know that all of these emotions are normal and that you will get through this! There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel. 

Dear Caretakers, It’s hard to describe the side effects but I hope by sharing the side effects of ABVD (chemo treatment) helped you. Remember that chemotherapy brings changes to your loved one’s life and it’s important that you don’t judge how he or she feels.