When it comes to cancer drug side-effects, it’s about what you’ll tolerate to stay alive | Holiday Osborne

No matter how bad I feel, I have to remind myself that the treatment is working to reducing my tumour

Nausea, diarrhoea, joint pain, fatigue, hair loss – the list of side-effects for most cancer drugs reads like symptoms of many illnesses in their own right. Before I had this disease, I would have considered making a GP appointment if I’d been suffering just some of the problems that I later came to just write off as simply the downside of being cured. The problem with all the side-effects the drugs have caused is that as they pile up, you can lose sight of why you are taking them.

It’s not as if you’re not warned that chemotherapy has its downsides. Before I started my treatment for breast cancer, the oncologist went through a long list of the things that I could experience as side-effects. It covered most of an A4 sheet of paper, and she appeared to have ticked every suggested problem as possible from the one or several of the cocktail of drugs I was going to be on.

Hilary Osborne is the Guardian’s money and consumer editor

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