09/06/2011 06:45 pm ET Updated Nov 06, 2011

The 'Hellacious' Hotness of Breast Cancer Chemotherapy

At 3:30 a.m., the third one of the night has already hit -- the joys of hot flashes.

Though I knew it was only a matter of time (because generally chemotherapy for F-Bomb Breast Cancer puts women into early menopause), I was holding out hope that I might actually avoid one side effect of chemo: "hellacious" 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 (okay, a big part of me) that wanted to jump up and down and say: "No! Maybe, just maybe, I won't get them!"

I can just imagine the chemo saying: "Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na!" F-Bomb.

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 my husband and our dog 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 my husband crank up the heat, I wondered? Geez. It's hot, I thought. I took off my 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.

The hot flash reality finally occurred to me yesterday, when my doctor asked: "Have you had any hot flashes ... yet?" Oh, so 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 fire. Call 9-1-1 now!"

So here I am at 3:30 a.m. Here we go again. Sayonara, sleep.

I woke up to an overheated bald head. It felt so hot, in fact, that I thought I could fry a couple of eggs on it, toast a piece of gluten-free bread and steam a pot of tea -- all using the heat of my head.

In the meantime, off came the pajama top, socks, blanket -- again.

As soon as I was nearly naked (not pretty these days, by the way), things turned cold. Really cold. In an instant. Back on with the thinking cap, pajama top, socks and blanket ... and then the shivering started.

Really? Really? Oh, and I am wide awake. Good times.

Many women manage hot flashes that happen as a result of naturally occurring menopause 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.

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 (which is always my Silver Lining!).

Today is my third round of chemo. Another Silver Lining is that as of today I will be 50 percent done. Though I've always considered myself more of a 90 percent kind of gal (I was quite competitive before FBC), I'm thrilled with 50 percent! Onward and upward.

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

- George Carlin

To read more about Hollye's holistic and humorous journey over, around, above and below breast cancer, please visit her blog, Brookside Buzz ( You may email her at or follow her on Twitter @hollyejacobs.