Hilacious Hotness Hits: Hot Flashes During Cancer Treatment

Hot Flashes During Cancer Treatment

At 3:30 (am!), the third one of the night has already hit: hot flashes.

Though I knew it was only a matter of time (because chemotherapy for F-Bomb Breast Cancer puts women into menopause), I was holding out hope that I might actually avoid one side effect of chemo:  hilacious hot flashes. Nice try.

Lots of people (too many, in fact) have asked, “Have you had any hot flashes…YET“? There was a little part of me (ok, a big part of me) that wanted to jump up and down and say: NO…NOT YET!!!  Maybe, just maybe, I won’t get them!!!

I can just imagine the chemo saying: “Na-Na-Na-Na-Naaaaaah-Na!”


They started two nights ago, though I didn’t exactly know what they were at the time.  I woke up (like I am apt to do virtually every night), looked around our room, listened to The Husband and Buzz snore on either side of me, tapped my feet, counted sheep and hoped for sleep.

Then, I noticed that I felt really warm.  Did The Husband crank up the heat, I wondered?  Geez.  H O T.  I took off my little skull cap that I wear every night to keep my bald head warm (our daughter, Finally Five, calls it my “thinking cap”). Still hot.  Then I shed my pajama top so that I was laying in my tank top. What on earth was going on?  I managed to go back to sleep (sort of dozed, actually) and didn’t think much of it.

Denial?  Probably.

It occurred to me yesterday, when Dr. Henry Han at the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic (no, I didn’t have to wait outside on the curb before seeing him: Silver Lining!), asked:  “Have you had any hot flashes…yet?”

Ohhhhhh, that’s what’s happening.

Now, these aren’t the sweats of the sacred sweat lodge variety originated by the Native Americans (that include guided prayer, chanting, drumming, and spiritual cleanliness).  This is more like: OMG, I’m on F-bomb fire.  Call 9-1-1….Noooooow!

Tonight, 3:30 am.  Here we go. Bye-bye, sleep.

I woke up to an over heated bald head. It felt so hot, in fact, that I thought I could fry a couple of eggs on it.  …then toast a piece of Almond Bread and steam a pot of tea…all using the heat of my head.

Cooked courtesy of my built-in heat plate

In the meantime, off came the pajama top, socks, blanket…

As soon as that image was complete, things turned cold.  Really cold. In an instant.  Back on with the thinking cap, pajama top, socks and blanket…and the shivering started.

Cold as in turn on the faucet cold. Brrrr….

Really?  REALLY?  Oh, and I am WIDE awake.  Good times here at Brookside.

The most effective way to manage hot flashes is through hormone replacement therapy, usually using estrogen. However, that isn’t going to work for me because my FBC is Estrogen Positive, which means that my cancer is fueled by this hormone. So I’m obviously not going to add it to my body.

Since today is chemo…did I forget to mention that?  Sorry.  Yes, today is my third round of chemo. A Silver Lining is that as of today I will be 50% DONE.  Though I’ve always considered myself more of a 90% kind of gal (quite competitive before FBC), I’m THRILLED with 50%!

Anyway, though I’ve already researched some options, I’ll ask my Oncologist what he thinks would be best to relieve this hot-cold-hot-cold cycle. Though I’ve been immune to all other side effect eliminating options (i.e., for sleep and nausea, no drugs or alternative therapies have worked), a girl can continue to hope (SL!).

Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.

– George Carlin


  1. Amy says

    Half Way There! Thanks for the info on the soy. I, too, had read about the pros and mostly cons of soy. Unlike you, I had a knee jerk reaction and boycotted it from the house. Regarding GMOs, have you seen Food, Inc.?

  2. Jo Saxon says

    Here's to the 50% that's behind you & started you on the path to recovery. Here's to the 50% that's ahead & that will end in your return to good health. Thinking of you.

  3. says

    Oh I hear ya sister! This from a person who could fall asleep standing at 7:00 with a howling rainstorm outside. It stinks and no one really prepares us for these things. I love you with all my heart. I am so very proud to call you friend. Just know that I am thinking of you every minute of every day. The scarf story made me laugh out loud! I'm sure the ogling is in large measure due to your beauty. Xo w

  4. adrienne says

    Oh my goodness Hollye . Does FBC also include an invasion of locusts ! Guts and Stardust , you are surrounded by love ! Blessings , Adrienne

  5. Diana Brill says

    Having a hot flash helps me to completly understand spontaneous combustion! 🙂 My clients who get black cohosh from me are very happy with it, I must confess it didn't do much for me. Glass is half full at 50%! 🙂

  6. Nan and Hilary Jacob says

    Luckily, I haven't had them…yet. (Hilary hasn't of course except that she's just a HOT young lady 🙂 )…but a friend swears by Black Cohash. Not sure what it is but maybe worth asking about?
    Just passing it along…thinking of you today.

  7. Merryl says

    All that I can see is the perfect and beautiful Hollye, filled with radiance, grace and strength. You are a shining star, sweet friend.

  8. Maureen Basse says

    As Nancy said above-invest in a tank top company! I find Lulu Lemon to be the best-the most comfortable and the most practical-and the are really pretty! Great colors! Especially the ones with a bra inside….so you don't feel too bare as you strip!
    I think the key to the Hot Flash syndrome is layers…..
    Good Luck today-and remember-50%!!!

  9. Theresa Edwards says

    living in "africa" this is just delightful hey! I preset my airconditioner to a cool 16 …. both in the bedroom and my office … those long nights of insomnia plus hot "flashes" as my 7 year old calls them can be something else …. hang in there friend … did I see "50%" …..

  10. Nancy Weltchek says

    Carry a bag of ice in a Ziploc bag to put at your neck. I live in New York, and this works for crowded subway rides. Always have a bottle of water at your side. Invest in a tank-top company. And if you don't like your arms, start toning right away because you'll never not wear a tank top again. The chill phase will pass.

    I had the same experience as you. Seven years ago– at 44– FBC put me into menopause. I still have hot flashes. In fact, I'm having one right now as I type. Just saying the word can do it. Breathe. Take off sweater. Sit in tank top.

    Good luck to you. You will persevere.

  11. Joanie says

    I still have them a bit, but past the OMG ones (except when I have had a bit too much red wine!), but I still use "cooling breath" from my yoga training. I curl my tongue and breathe in through my mouth and out through my nose. It does calm me and feels like a bit of relief. I never took hormones for my menopausal swings so the hot flashes could get pretty intense. I have decided the "internal heat" is maybe killing and destroying anything threatening my health so that is what I visualize during my cooling breath work. I think they must be productive somehow, or why would so many women have them? Absolutely no scientific thought behind this idea though…just coping intuition. 🙂 Hang in…all will be well, all will be well.