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The One Side Effect Not Discussed

My name is Lisa Siciliano. I am a fourth-year PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago in Learning Sciences. I am a fiercely proud former Chicago Public Schools teacher. I love theatre, dance, exercising, cooking, reading, and watching mystery shows on TV. I live with my husband and our cat Daphne.


When I was diagnosed in March 2021, I spent hours upon hours upon hours reading up on all the side effects that I might experience during chemo. I learned about nausea, diarrhea, neuropathy, hair loss, fatigue, insomnia, constipation, dry skin, mouth sores, head sores, chemo brain, brain fog, body aches, hot flashes, night sweats, and on and on and on.


But the one side effect that I failed to learn about before it happened was a side effect that not only affected me – but also affected anyone within 20 feet of me – chemo farts. These farts were so noxious, there’s nothing really that I can compare them to. They’re on a whole different level of odors. And there’s no real treatment or pill for terrible smelling farts. It wasn’t like I was going to email my oncology nurse and ask, “Do you have a medicine so that I don’t faint from my own body’s gas?”


The farts were so bad, that on the way home from chemo when my husband and I could finally take our masks off after hours and hours of keeping them on in the hospital, we actually continued to keep our masks on in the car with each other, and we rolled down all the windows, too!


So, I am hoping this anecdote serves as a warning to everyone going into chemo to be prepared for the one side effect that is rarely discussed!

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