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Anger as a side effect of chemo?

Posts: 124
Joined: Mar 2011

hello again everyone. My aunt had her first chemo session on Thursday the 8th of June. I'm just wondering if anger is a side effect. She's so mad all the time but has sudden outbursts of really bad temper. :( I don't know how to deal with those or what to think. After a temper outburst she'll apologize and say she's not mad at me, but those are taking their toll on me since I've noticed my stomach is in knots and I'm always tense like I'm waiting for lightening to strike.

The only real side effects I've noticed so far are the cold sensitivity, tingling in her finger tips and the rare side effect someone mentioned here about first bite jaw pain. She has that every first bite when she begins to eat anything (I can't find the post again but am going to keep looking since I want to read it again).

I just feel so hopeless and I'd like to make it less angering for her but have no idea how or if I can.


Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2009

girlfriend had some epic screaming matches while I was in treatment,at the chemo unit, the radiation area, the surgeon's office, everywhere....things would be calm but suddenly I'd erupt,spewing verbal venom for awhile and then I'd quiet down.......probably a combination of the fear,anger,sense of losing control of one's life, mixed with the potency of the chemo drugs and steriods that might go with it--its easiest to lash out at those you love even tho you don't mean a word of what you've just said and you've hurt the one helping to keep you going.....Try not to take it personal, tho that may prove difficult .Your aunt is not the only one to behave that way during treatment;I think alot of us did.... try to bear with her....

As for that annoying feeling upon biting into food--- I would wait a second or two after firt bite and then continue chewing thru the feeling, which would quickly go away....I would try to drink liquids by aiming the drink down the middle of my tongue to avoid the back sides of my jaw, which is where that feeling seemed to originate from........Try to maintain a close watch on your aunt as the effects tend to intensify as the chemo continues....

It does get better........steve

daBeachBum's picture
Posts: 164
Joined: Apr 2011

Hi Marianne,

After I was diagnosed and started Chemo, I went through a whole range of feelings. Anger wasn't really one of them, but I think that's just the way I am wired.

Both my insurance company and the hospital offered free counseling and support services. I didn't take them up on it, but it was nice to know I had the option. Your aunt may want to look into this. Additionally, her doctor will be able to prescribe mood stabilizers for her if it's appropriate.

Finding out you have a life threatening condition, along with everything that goes along with it is a lot to swallow and everybody is going to feel and act differently. I hope that your aunt can work through this as best as possible and that she takes advantage of whatever support she needs for both your sakes. My thoughts are with her and you...

Take care,


Posts: 1154
Joined: Jun 2010

This was recently addressed in the Caregiver's board. There seemed to be mood changes that were evident. Check out that board.

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

Of course I'm kidding with my comment to you Marianne but I do believe that anger is a byproduct and/or side effect of cancer and chemo if that is your choice of treatment. I've had days when I felt very cranky after chemo because it made me feel like crap. It's hard to be cheerful when you don't feel well. That even holds true I think for anyone who is sick. Cancer or not, anger can be a byproduct of ill-health!

I've blown up at my kids at times and overall when I was in the middle of the intense chemo my fuse was very short. Of course it never showed it's ugly head on this forum.... (oh brother!)

I think you need to give her space and sometimes just stay out of her way. I think she will realize what is happening and may not react as intensely.

Best of luck
PS: Found the first bite pain post

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

Illness does not give any one the right to be hurtful, I would stay out of her way. But the sooner she comes to grips with her new life the better! Attitude is everything.

Big Hug!!

Posts: 1
Joined: May 2018

You say that there is no excuse for anger?  Some chemo can cause hormonal imbalances that can make a person quicker to anger than they were before cancer.  Others need to be less judgemental.

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 5511
Joined: Jan 2013

So please don't expect a response.  

Yeah, she was one of the - many - unlucky ones on the forum, who didn't make it. 


Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6722
Joined: Feb 2009

You are new to the board and it would be nice if you could start a new post and introduce yourself.  Please do so on a new thread and let us know a little bit about what you are going through.


Posts: 124
Joined: Mar 2011

just kidding Phil...I don't take any comments here as mean so I kinda figured you were kidding with the Dry up post. Just wanted to post to you personally and say thanks for finding the first bite post for me and most especially for posting it as a link I could just click on since I have one heck of a time with computer stuff. :)

Thank you for the time it took and thoughtfulness of searching and posting the link for me.


lesvanb's picture
Posts: 911
Joined: May 2008

Showed up mostly on the third and last day of chemo on the pump during FOLFOX txs. My husband and I made an agreement to not talk to each other much on this day and this worked much much better. I appreciated the cups of tea etc, but keeping my mouth shut was key (and not being required to talk either).

By the way,after FOLFOX ended, I also had bouts of anger and depression and we reinstated the same guidelines with good success.

all the best, Leslie

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
Posts: 3908
Joined: Nov 2010

dex is standard on folfox,its a steroid. i had some temper tantrums.

i had the dose halved by onc. ask the onc.

sometimes ativan is prescribed as an relaxant.


emtwoods's picture
Posts: 37
Joined: Jan 2003

I have noticed the anger thing with my husband too. I assumed it was a reaction to the illness since he was just dxed Mother's Day. I didn't realize there was a steroid in Folfox?

HollyID's picture
Posts: 951
Joined: Dec 2009

But on a personal level, I'd say that the anger is not related in any way to her chemo. Chemo didn't affect my emotional state in anyway. I'm guessing her outbursts are more from fear, anger and other compensation emotions related to the cancer itself.

I also had the cold sensitivity, the tingling and the jaw pain and many others related to the chemo. I think the best thing you can do is just listen to your Aunt. Maybe try to talk to her about her feelings and what she may be going through.

John23's picture
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

Aside from the barrage of not-so-normal emotions that occur
when you hear that you're going to die sooner than you expected,
there are also biological effects that effect emotions, like denial,
depression, anger, frustration, anxiety.....

The biological effects can be due to the taxed state of the Liver.

The Liver is said to help regulate both Serotonin and Melatonin.
and both those chemicals regulate our moods, temper, anger,
depression, etc.

It should then be easy to understand how both cancer and the chemical
treatments for cancer, can wear down the Liver's ability to do its job
properly, resulting in changes in emotional stability.

I haven't had to suffer the consequences of chemical therapy (yet),
so most of my anger, anxiety, depression etc can only be attributed
to the psychological impact of cancer itself, and perhaps to my
Italian heritage that's borne of bouts of yelling and screaming as
part of a basic Italian DNA make-up and stupid family gatherings.

(sorry for that outburst)

Seriously, the emotions that get terribly mangled after hearing
the devastating news of a terminal illness of oneself, takes time
to recover from. Bystanders find themselves unexpectedly in harms
way as a consequence of just being within earshot.

So please, as a caregiver..... if you possibly can, give the patient
a lot of rope and a ton of understanding. The outbursts aren't
a result of any failure of yours, and it isn't likely even aimed at
you specifically; Your aunt's apologies should bear that out!

"Love, and it will be returned" (eventually).

Be well !!


geotina's picture
Posts: 2123
Joined: Oct 2009

Your aunt is scared and lashing out. Give her some space. When George gets snippy I just tell myself that it is the cancer talking, not George.

You need to relax a bit, keep in mind you can't change what is, just support your aunt as a caregiver. If her lashing out at you is an outlet for her, so be it, just remember it is the fear of the unknown, treatments and cancer talking, hard yes, doable definitely.

Take care - Tina

thxmiker's picture
Posts: 1282
Joined: Oct 2010

I think emotional is part of Chemo. We are in such pain that our emotions come out more. I know mine did. I know the happy/sad cycles went away after the first round of cancer. My second time with cancer, I was prepared for the roller coaster.

I also changed my view of life a bit. My priorities became more focused.
Best Always, mike

Posts: 124
Joined: Mar 2011

Thanks to all for the comments and information. When I left my aunt's home Monday morning (my brother is with her for a few days--but he doesn't drive at all, but, he's company for her and there if she needs him), when I left she asked when I was returning, she said "Monday?" I said, "no", Tuesday? I said no and so on til she got to Friday and I said "no" and then she said "if I promise to watch my temper will you come Friday after work?" I had to smile (since that wasn't why I wasn't going there Friday after work) and I told her I'd come Friday since she wanted me there.

I do love her and maybe some time off for me (coming TO work a break, imagine that haha) is what I needed. I do realize that everything that's happening to her physically and mentally as well as dealing with her son having stage 3 esophageal cancer and her husband passing suddenly a month ago is often too much to deal with. It boggles my mind and I'm not as directly affected as she is. The sudden temper outbursts are difficult to deal with mainly because I know it's NOT how she is....or how she used to be.

I'll be sure to let her know that often steroids can create mood changes and that she should tell her oncologist and maybe he can help in that area.

Thanks so much everyone.


Helen321's picture
Posts: 1428
Joined: May 2012

Cancer if frustrating.  I don't think chemo causes anger medically.  I think having to do chemo causes anger.  And having so little control over your body for a period of time causes anger.  And hearing he word cancer, and being in pain, and feeling so lousy.  The list would go on and on.

SophDan2's picture
Posts: 151
Joined: Jul 2017

Hi Marianne,

As you can see from all of the comments, there is no cookie cutter result from cancer and / or the treatments involved. what works for one might not work for the next. My belief is that it boils down to 2 personalities traits.

The glass is half full view of life vs. the glass is half empty. If someone tends to see only the negative in life (even more so pre-cancer diagnosis) then that view along with feeling shitty from treatment side effects will only intensify that view of life. Of course, the flip-side, is the opposite for those who see the positive in life (even more so pre-cancer diagnosis). I think that when you realize how precious our life is, you try to find peace and happiness wherever and when ever you can.

I used own a nightclub, and what I observed over many years of watching the effects of alcohol is this:

Alcohol makes angry people angrier and happy people happier! I would be the happier alcoholic!

I am so glad that you are turning to this forum for feedback; it might not be a bad idea to introduce this forum to your aunt, I bet it would be of help to all involved.

Just my 2 cents!


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