Extreme tiredness

You may have fatigue, a kind of tiredness that doesn’t get better with sleep. It can last for several months after your treatment has finished. A bit of gentle exercise can help.

With exercise, you’ve got to find the level that’s right for you. I walk the dog – it gets me up in the morning.

Leanne

Help with fatigue

Macmillan has information on coping with extreme tiredness caused by cancer treatment.

Cancer on board will send you a badge so you can get a seat on your commute without having to ask.

Weight changes

You might lose weight because you don’t feel like eating. If you take drugs called steroids as part of your treatment, you might temporarily put on weight. You might also eat more because steroids make you feel hungrier than usual.

You might put weight on when you take steroids. But remember you’re not going to be on them for ever.

Emily

Help with diet & exercise

Trekstock has advice for younger people on living healthily after cancer treatment.

Muscle weakness

You may find it’s harder to do simple activities like climbing stairs. This can happen while you’re taking steroids or some anti-cancer (chemotherapy) drugs.

I couldn’t even walk five metres to the toilet. But three months later I was going to night clubs.

Jamie

Hair loss

Some chemotherapy drugs can cause your hair to fall out, including your eyebrows and eyelashes. It varies how long it takes to grow back but for most people it’s a few months.

I cut my long dark hair off and gave it to charity, because I was trying to make a negative thing into a positive.

Hinna

Help getting a wig

Synthetic wigs are available on prescription from the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

 

In England, you’re entitled to a free synthetic wig if you’re aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education, or if you’re on a low income. Find out more.

 

Little Princess Trust offers free real hair wigs for anyone with cancer (male and female) up to the age of 24.

Skin changes

Your skin can become sensitive or itchy and it might change colour slightly. You can also find you bruise more easily. Taking steroids can lead to stretch marks, and you may have small scars from tests or treatment.

I’ve noticed with leukaemia I’ve gone paler. I’ve changed my make-up so you can’t see the join.

Leanne

Changes to your nails

Your nails may change colour or get thinner. You might see lines and spots caused by chemotherapy, but these will grow out.

My big toe nail is damaged, but I’ve found a beautician who makes my nails look so good you can’t even see it’s dodgy.

Emily

Skin, hair & nails

Look good feel better offer support with appearance-changing side effects for women and men.

Changes to your sense of taste

Chemotherapy can have a surprising effect on how food and drink tastes, and this can put you off certain foods.

Always take mints to chemo because it can give you a weird taste in your mouth.

Emily

Sickness & vomiting

Feeling nauseous and vomiting are common side effects of treatment. Your healthcare team will give you anti-sickness drugs called anti-emetics to help with this. There are lots of options so if one doesn’t work, you can try another one.

Don’t come off the anti-emetics too quickly because you’re not feeling sick for a reason. And the reason is the anti-emetics.

Jamie

Help with sickness

Bloodwise has a fact sheet on managing sickness and vomiting here.

Constipation

Chemotherapy can affect your bowels and some people have difficulty pooing. Your nurse can advise you on this but eating a healthy diet and taking laxatives will help.

You don’t realise how much you miss a good poo until you can’t have one!

Hinna

Sore mouth

Blood cancer treatment can make your mouth sore. Painkillers will help with this and it should get better as your body recovers from each round of chemotherapy.

Help with sore mouth

Bloodwise has a fact sheet on sore mouth or gut (mucositis) here.

Infection

If you have chemotherapy you may have a higher risk of getting infections like colds, flu, chest infections, and thrush. Sometimes an infection can develop into a serious condition called neutropenic sepsis which needs treatment straight away.

I just had a sore throat and it turned into neutropenic sepsis. Call your hospital straight away if you have an infection to check if you should come in.

Leanne

Help with infection

Bloodwise has a fact sheet on understanding infection here.

Chemo brain

Chemotherapy can affect your memory and make it difficult to concentrate. It may last longer than the treatment but should improve over time.

With chemo brain you just have to explain why you’re a bit forgetful and slow.

Hinna

Loss of feeling (neuropathy)

Some drugs can make you lose feeling in your fingers and toes, or give you pins and needles Changing your drug doses can help with this, so talk to your nurse or doctor.

Loss of interest in sex

Sex may be difficult because you don’t feel well, are too tired, or just don’t feel like it. Sometimes, the drugs you’re taking can affect your hormones, so if you have symptoms that are bothering you, speak to your doctor or nurse.

Advice on sex

CLIC Sargent has advice on having sex when you’re having cancer treatment.

 

Watch Leanne talk about how chemo has affected her sex life.

Fertility issues

Some blood cancer treatments can affect your ability to have a child in the future, but there may be ways to increase your chances of having one when you’re ready. Speak to your healthcare team about your options.

More on fertility

CLIC Sargent and Teenage Cancer Trust have more information about cancer treatment and fertility issues.

 

Future Fertility Trust offers the chance to freeze ovarian or testicular tissue if other ways to preserve your fertility aren’t an option.

 

Watch Hinna talk about fertility and relationships after blood cancer treatment.