The things they didn’t tell you about chemo

  • Hot flushes

Being a twenty four year old brimming with female hormones, a cycle of chemotherapy quickly shuts all of the female reproductive system down. The result; a feeling of being trapped in a small room coated ceiling to floor with radiators, little holes in the ground that release steam every two minutes, while you are dressed in three layers of ski gear and an electric blanket wrapped around you. Before, when I thought of hut flushes, meh it can’t be that bad? Well I was in for a shock. At least ten times a day the heat wave would begin at my thighs, work its way up like a cloud of smoke diffusing to any part of my body that was a normal temperature and took over until even my scalp felt unbearable. Hot flushes were probably the worst side effect of chemotherapy. While my mam would be over heating the house and piling seven different blankets on me, because, well, that’s what Mammies do, I would be quickly pulling them off, with the window open and two fans blowing air. Until I got too cold then sink back into my duvet. Only to feel the sensation coming on once again and rush back up into a sitting position because the feeling of the duvet near my head was unbearable. With nothing medical that could help ease the discomfort I had to bear it. Jaysus lads I’m quear hot!

  • Freezing feet

Oh yes, while my top half would be sweltering, my feet were like icicles. Mount Vesuvius vs North Pole. Imagine the fun I had trying to regulate this!

  • Constipation

I did most of my best thinking on the toilet seat at 4 am. Let’s just leave it at that.




  • Runny nose

So seemingly one of my chemo- therapies can cause a runny nose. I personally put it down to losing all my nose hair, not that I had a lot, Jesus I am girl, girls don’t have nose hair. A funny and unexpected side effect, chatting to someone or bent over the bin peeling carrots and next minute an unlikely stream of snot runs down your face. Jesus lads I’m quear hot!

  • Puffy face

During my hospital stays I would be put on a massive amount of fluids. So as each day passed, I increasingly looked like I had cosmetic surgery on my face, and then got stung by a colony of wasps.

  • Weight gain

I ate like a horse before I started chemo because in my head I thought well I’m going on the ‘chemo diet’ so I have to plump up a little. Oh how wrong I was. I didn’t expect the gaping constant feeling of hunger due to the steroids they pumped into me. I would eat a farmer’s dinner, and then literally half an hour later I would be looking for more. Bruce from Matilda eating the chocolate cake comes to mind. Between that and basically being horizontal for four months, the chemo left me with a few extra pounds. Plus every visitor that came to the hospital must think ‘Hey I’ll bring her enough chocolate to feed a small army so she won’t be sad. Chocolate makes you happy. Perfect idea’.

  • PICC line- not so fashionable

So for those who had PICC lines inserted understand that tubes physically hanging out of your arm aren’t too appealing. The SleekSleeves were a blessing for covering up but you still had a band on your arm that naturally drew unwanted attention regardless. This meant that every outfit for a night out had to include sleeves. A small hindrance, but annoying all the same. Let’s see Versace do a better job than me!

  • Moody McMooderson

Well there were a few times that I thought I was going to go on a killing rampage, probably because someone ate the last biscuit, but holy god the mood swings were woeful. Some days it would be like the nice smiley Sarah was duct taped and tied in a cellar while bitchy ‘DO NOT LOOK AT ME’ Sarah would make her appearance. I apologise now for any encounter you may have had with the diva. No animals were harmed in the making of Moody McMooderson, I think!






  1. I’ve just laughed out loud at your description of something that shouldn’t be remotely funny. Brilliant writing. I’m picturing a Sarah Carty best seller here!!! Rachel’s Holiday comes to mind

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