Lingering Side Effects or Badge of Honor

During my cancer battle I was given a very long list of side effects that I could experience due to the chemo regime that was being administered to me at that time.  Of course, the scariest side effect on the list was Death, but let’s not talk about that one.  As I evaluated the list, I noticed that it stated menopause as a side effect and I was puzzled.  Granted, I was in my twenties during this time; therefore, I did not know what that meant so I asked my doctor.  He said well as a woman, your menstrual cycle might stop and you might experience hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, headaches and several other symptoms.  He gave me some information on menopause.  At this point, all I heard was possibility of my menstrual cycle stopping, and that was pretty good news or so I thought.

Month after month, my cycle did not stop, I was robbed of the only positive side effect.  On the other hand, due to my chemo treatment, I started to experience hot flashes.  I would start to feel so hot and would become sweaty and then I would start feeling cold.  The quick changes in temperature was just terrible and irritating.  Also, I started to experience the night sweats during certain nights and I would wake up with my sheets drenched in sweat and I felt cold at the same time.  I did not understand these symptoms and was baffled realizing that all women go through menopause at some point in life.  Now, I understood my mother and why at times she would tell me she was hot and then she would say she was cold within a few minutes. I now feel fortunate that I could relate to my mom on a personal level back then. We got to share the same experience at the same time even though I was in my 20’s.  Another thing that would happen to me was that my face and body would become red when I was receiving treatment. I looked like a tomato.  To be completely honest, I started experiencing menopause symptoms from the beginning of starting my chemo treatment and it has continued to be part of my life from that point to the present.  My symptoms are not as bad as when I was battling cancer, but I have continued to experience hot flashes mostly.  Also, when I drink an alcoholic beverage my face becomes red like a tomato and I start sweating. Most people, might be embarrassed by this.  Some of my friends have said if they had to go through that they would never want to go out in public.  For me, I see it as a badge of honor.  Thanks to God I am alive today therefore I embrace the differences in my body chemistry and who I have become due to my cancer battle.

People might make comments, remarks or simply not understand you.  At times, people might see that my cheeks are red as a tomato and start making remarks about me or make fun of me as I walk by. They don’t know that I am experiencing a hot flash at the time. Regardless of how many stares and murmurs I see and hear, I walk with my head held high because I am proud of myself and what I have overcome in life. Friends and family might not fully understand you but don’t forget that being different is what sets us apart from everyone else. Being different is one of the most beautiful things on earth.  God made us all unique for a reason.  Embrace your unique and wonderful self and be happy being YOU!


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