Chemo Side Effects: Temperature Regulation
I’ve been on chemotherapy in one form or another for almost 8 years straight now. Anyone living with cancer has undoubtedly heard people say how terrible chemo is, that it’s poison to our bodies, and that it’s worse than the cancer itself.
I’m no medical expert, but I know this for sure. Chemo has saved my life. Had I not started and continued doing chemotherapy, I would have died years ago. Initially, I was given just months to live. Chemotherapy (and radiation) has defeated nearly all my cancer and pushed me into a near complete remission.
Yet this is a far cry from a picture of rainbows and roses. Chemo takes a toll on you, especially when you’re on it for years. I think I’ve experienced almost every side effect known to chemo patients and my husband and I are always trying to find new ways to alleviate those negative side effects.
In this article, I want to touch on 2 of those sucky side effects and then share some ways I’ve found relief.
Fevers or night sweats
Chemo can cause havoc on your body's ability to regulate temperature. Some treatments can also lead to menopause with hot flashes.1
Since my type of breast cancer loves estrogen, the treatments I've done (and still do) have pushed me into menopause. I went into menopause at the ripe age of 23! While that has some pros, it has far more cons - especially at such a young age. One of those cons has been hot flashes and night sweats.
I know hot flashes are different with every woman. For some, they are not that bad or don't happen at all. For others, like me, they were terrible. I'd wake up drenched in sweat or I'd be out somewhere and start burning up from the inside out. This process also caused me to gain weight and it created mood swings and angry or sad emotions.
Thankfully, I'm past all this now. But it was terrible at the time, so I feel for you if you’re there now.
Things that helped me manage hot flashes
- I always carried a little folding fan or a battery-powered fan in my purse when I felt a fire starting inside.
- I made sure my bed sheets were light and airy. No heavy cotton.
- I tried to dress in layers I could quickly remove when needed.
- Just cry.
Several cancer therapies interfere with how the body regulates its temperature. It’s often due to dehydration.2
This is another big one for me. I've had a lot of treatments and medications over the years, so I'm not sure what or why it happens to me, but my body often has trouble regulating its temperature. Joel says my thermostat is broken!
Usually, I feel cold to freezing. Joel can be in shorts and a t-shirt, and I'm on the couch curled in a blanket. "How are you not freezing?" I say!
I’m also sensitive to cold touches. When Joel puts my fentanyl patch on my back and his finger touches me, I jump from the cold sting. On the other hand, when I get out of the shower, I feel like I’m melting and usually need to lay down for a while. Showers heat me up and zap my energy. But most of the time, I’m just cold.
Things that help me with the cold
- I carry one of those giant water thermoses with me and try to keep myself hydrated.
- Lots of cozy blankets and socks!
- Soft beanies and hats.
- I have a little portable space heater I move around the house.
- A heating blanket in bed.
- I always ask for those lovely warm heated blankets in the hospital. Okay, I ask for extra of these!
- Hot coffee or tea.
I’d love to hear from you if you know of any other helps or remedies to night sweats or temperature regulation issues. I can use the help!
Do you have a safe space where others understand what you are going through?