Don’t Shame the Sweaty Bettys

Last year at this time, I found out that I had DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) breast cancer. Luckily, after I had a lumpectomy, my mammogram came out clear months later. Although I understand that this can re-occur at any time, I felt I had dodged a bullet. Prior to this, I was taking a homeopathic hormone which reduced my night sweats and hot flashes to nearly nothing. It was heavenly not to be hot all the time, or suddenly break into a dripping sweat–which, by the way, always seemed to happen when  I was around lots of people. There is just no hiding turning instantly soaking wet.

Because of this brush with cancer, I had to stop taking my wonderful hormone therapy and now am officially a Sweaty Betty. I cannot take any kind of hormone for five years, which means that I have and probably will spend most of my time dripping wet. This happens in any type of weather or season (even in the dead of winter), and especially when there is no moving air.

To say that it is embarrassing just skims the surface. I hate it that I have no control over it–I will be fine and dry and than BOOM—soaking, wringing wet. The ends of my hair drip sweat down my face and neck, and I wish that I could just sink out of sight.

I know quite a few women who also must live with this. For now, all we can do is to grin and bear it, or like me, make jokes about it when I want to run and hide my sweaty self. But this is my life for the next five year or so, and like it or not, I am going to be caught blotchy and sweaty from time to time and there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it.

I carry a paper fan wherever I go, plus lots of cloth handkerchiefs to mop myself off. There are times when I am home that I will just open the freezer door and stick my head in there to cool off. I confess to feeling envious of all those women who can walk around confident that sudden sweat is not on their radar. While I wish them well, I am jealous as hell.

So, the next time you see someone like me walking around dabbing at her face and neck, cheeks bright red and looking as though she would love to be invisible, remember: this is probably something they just can’t help. They are all too aware of what they look like, and staring at them, or worse; commenting about them is hurtful. We wouldn’t laugh or whisper about someone in a wheelchair or someone with a prosthetic leg, would we? Believe me, the SBS (Sweaty Betty Syndrome) is about the least funny thing I can think of.

I once saw an inscription on a tombstone that read, “Where you are now, I once was. Where I am now, you will be.” I used to think it was pretty mean-spirited, but now I apply it differently. I’d love to have a button that reads: “Where you are now, cool and dry, I once was. Where I am now, hot and sweaty, you may be.” No judgement, just fact.

So, to all of you normal ladies out there, enjoy your blessed dryness and cool comfort. To all you fellow Sweaty Bettys out there, I feel for you and I am with you, wet or dry.

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