By Lizzy Smith | Posted - Apr 10th, 2014





10 Great Side Effects from Chemo Treatments

I am on a quest to try and find the positive in even the most challenging of situations. Let’s see if I can find ten positive things about chemotherapy (besides the whole “it’ll save my life hopefully” thing). This won’t be easy but I think I can do it!

  1. Shaving Moratorium: Hair loss is one of the most traumatic side effects of chemo. But for several months, I didn’t need to shave my legs. I had nice smooth legs without having to work for it.
  2. Wig Shopping: Most of us don’t enjoy wearing wigs but going to the wig shop and trying on new hairstyles was actually pretty fun. I was amazed at how different I looked just by having a different hairstyle or color. I literally looked like a different person in a second. And with wigs, I was totally in control of how I looked. (Funny side story: I had one wig that was a short bob and another that was long and straight. I usually wore my long wig. One day, I picked up my daughter’s friend wearing my long hair. After a few hours, I switched to the shorter wig before going to work out. When the friend saw me, she asked my daughter who I was. She didn’t recognize me at all. I had to explain why I had long hair one minute and short the next. I said that I sometimes wore hair extensions.)
  3. No Bad Hair Days: I never fought with my hair. And it took me less than 30 minutes to get ready. It was a quick shower, a little makeup, get dressed, and plop that wig on my bald head and I was ready. It’s amazing how time consuming hair can be!
  4. Getting Skinny: Most of us get sick or have severe food aversions during chemo. If you’ve always wanted to lose a few pounds, chemo is generally a guaranteed weight loss regiment. (So I am the exception here, truth be told. I am one of the very few that got food cravings during chemo and I gained a few pounds. But I am definitely not the rule here.)
  5. Forced Relaxation: During my stem cell transplant, I had to be away from most humans (minus my caregiver and nurses) during neutropenia. My mom and I got a nice hotel near my doctor’s office and stayed there for a week. No children, no distractions. It was forced relaxation. I got to watch endless TV and read as much as I wanted to without any guilt. I couldn’t even work out and I was allowed to sleep all I wanted.
  6. Painkillers: I’ve never been much of a pill popper but during chemo, if I wanted painkillers, they were mine for the asking. Bummer for me that most painkillers made me throw up, so it was miserable for me. At least I know that I won’t become an addict any time soon.
  7. My Own Personal Assistant: I’ve never had anyone wait on me hand and foot. But during neutropenia, I got my own caretaker 24/7. If I needed anything, it was mine for the asking.
  8. Processed Food Bonanza: During neutropenia, I could eat all the chips, pizza and other junk food I wanted. Since I wasn’t allowed to eat the fresh fruits and veggies I love, by the time I could, I appreciated them all that much more.
  9. Missing My Children: I couldn’t see my children for almost a week during my stem cell transplant. I missed them like crazy and when I could see them again, it was one amazing reunion. The joy was indescribable.
  10. Appreciation For Life: I finished up chemo with a more profound appreciation for my life—all of it, including the boring routines and errands. I was so happy to be able to do something like go to Costco, go to the bank, or sit in a movie theatre. Getting back to “normal” was something I never appreciated before.

Oh my gosh, I did it!

Lizzy Smith
About the Author

Lizzy Smith - Lizzy Smith was diagnosed with myeloma in 2012 at age 44. Within days, she left her job, ended her marriage, moved, and entered treatment. "To the extent I'm able, I want to prove that despite life's biggest challenges, it is possible to survive and come out stronger than ever," she says.


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