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What to expect with combo Chemo and Radiation Therapy What to expect with combo Chemo and Radiation Therapy

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Unread 06-19-2003, 04:24 AM
What to expect with combo Chemo and Radiation Therapy

Hello all, I just came back from meeting with my radiologist. I'm scheduled to start 5 weeks of combined chemo and radiation therapy. I will be starting of June 30th. I will have chemo, once per week (cytophan?, can't seem to spell it) and I will have daily treatments of radiation as well for those 5 weeks. To say the least I'm terrified since I will start right out, the first day having both treatments and don't know what to expect. Having read some posts I understand that everyone reacts differently.

Can you tell me what sort of 'side affect's' to expect, especially during my first treatment of chemotherapy? I live in Holland and though they do things pretty much the same as America, getting information is not easy due to language problems. I think even if the side affects are not so pleasant, at least I will have an idea what to expect so I don't go into hysteria when I feel nausea or have feel my heart tightening. I just spoke to my Dutch husband, who has read the information from the hospital about the chemo, and he thinks it will be only a drip... and there is nothing to be concerned about. Somehow from everything I have learned, it's a bit more that that. Also, I'm wondering, every time they put the IV needle in my hand, the vein collapses and then when they find a good vein, it's terribly painful. Is there anywhere else they can put the IV needle? (yes I did tell them here, but they don't seem to be concerned, and have an attitude of, 'as long as the fluid gets through...so perhaps if I offered an alternative, I would get a more merciful reactioin.......)

By the way, at the not so tender age of 42, I have gotten my first tattoo! A hilarious experience, as I did try as most you most likely did, to get the floral or heart pattern, but they won't do anything more elaborate than a dot. haha
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Unread 06-19-2003, 09:10 AM
Chemo and Radiation

Yesterday I started my first treatments for chemo and radiation. My chemo drug is Cisplatin. I was pretty scared, but it turned out to be okay. The nurse gave me a drug to eliminate any nausea and it worked very well. The actual chemo time was one hour, but there was three hours of hydration -- total time in recliner was 4 1/2 hours. My husband stayed with me until another patient came in. She was an old pro at chemo and gave me some hints. We had a great time chatting and eating muffins.

I felt fine until later in the evening. There was some quesiness rather than nausea. But I think I brought that on myself by eating some coconut milk Thai soup for lunch. What was I thinking! I also have a precription for Zofran which I hear from this site is a very effective drug.

The nurse put the needle in my hand because she couldn't get a vein in my arm. My chemo partner had hers in the inside elbow, so I don't know if there are hard and fast rules about where it goes.

My biggest problem with the whole thing was how cold the chemo drug was. The bag must have just come out of the refrigerator and my hand turned to ice. The nurse wrapped my hand and arm in a warm towel and that really helped.

You'll do just fine. It's been 2 1/2 months since I was diagnosed so it feels good to finally get this treatment show on the road!
Unread 06-19-2003, 09:45 AM
What to expect with combo Chemo and Radiation Therapy

Hi, Maria and thanks for posting. I'm sure you're feeling good that treatment is going to start. I know I did...

I'm doing both the chemo and radiation at the same time, too. My med oncologist is giving me the Taxol/Carboplatinum full dose once every 3 weeks. (I see you're getting the chemo on a weekly basis which, I understand, should be somewhat easier to tolerate.)

I just had my second course of Chemo one week ago today. Today will also be the 11th radiation treatment.

I am starting to encounter some intestinal problems and I believe that's the combined impact of the chemo and radiation. For example, I had a moderate amount of diarrhea through the day yesterday. After making sure that the diarrhea was not the result of any infection (monitoring temps throughout the day), I took Immodium and feel o.k. now. (At least, I haven't had any diarrhea so far.) I did lose a few pounds when I weighed myself this a.m., though, and I'm concentrating on eating the right foods (b.r.a.t. diet) and a lot of liquids to replenish what's already been lost.

Something else that's really helped me and which I read here on this site... using baby wipes (I'm using the alcohol and fragrance free kind). Love them! May never go back to t.p. (lol!!) Also, I bought some Johnson & Johnson baby powder that's really corn starch with aloe.

I haven't encountered any bladder problems or infections and I'm trying to avoid those by drinking lots of water.

You know, it's been fascinating to me to learn all about this whole process. The impact of the radiation on the pelvic area is all about bowels and bladder. My radiation dr says he's focusing on two things for me: adequate food and rest. Another thing to keep in mind - some of the anti-nausea medications cause either diarrhea or constipation. (Zofran, which I take, tends to cause constipation.) Chemo side effects tend to be immediate after you get the dose. Radiation side effects tend to be cumulative, getting more severe as treatment progresses. And both chemo and radiation impact the blood counts. Ay, yi, yi! There's a lot going on with our poor bodies.

But I'll tell you, none of my doctors blinked an eye when the radiation dr said he wanted to do radiation at the same time as chemo. They all agreed I was young enough (45) and strong enough to manage the added impact. So far, so good. I've got two more radiation treatments this week and then I'm off for two days! Amen!

Good luck, Maria and God bless.

P.S. There's a book I've got which has helped explain a lot of what's going on: "The Chemotherapy & Radiation Therapy Survival Guide - Information, Suggestions, and Support to Help You Get Through Treatment" by Judith McKay and Nancee Hirano.
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Unread 06-19-2003, 10:32 AM
What to expect with combo Chemo and Radiation Therapy

MariaCoo --

Thanks for letting us know your treatment plan. Maureenie and ThereseA had great info to share. I am just doing chemo, so my experiences may not be as relevant. Have your doctors determined what stage your cancer is yet? After the chemo and radiation, will there be surgery? I hope with a weekly treatment you will not experience some of the bad side effects. Your doctors will probably give you Zofran or Anzemet for nausea. I have found that taking these drugs in the morning -- while still in bed (and then not getting up for a half-hour) -- seems to help quite a bit. Drink TONS of water. TONS. It really helps.

Maureenie --

Get rid of the baby powder. My mom (a nurse) has long been a participant in the biggest women's health study in the world (the Harvard Nurse's Study). Harvard Press just issued a book with a chapter on ovarian cancer. One of the findings was a link between use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Another finding linked ovca to dairy consumption. Not sure why. But tossing the powder is easy to do. Getting rid of the ice cream? Not so easy. :-)
Unread 06-19-2003, 11:27 AM

I was so glad to hear your post, I was getting worried about you. If your veins are bad you can get a port installed. It requires out-patient surgery, but it is so worth it. I have one, my veins are really crappy.

Everyone already told you about the side effects of the chemo & radiation. All I can say is that you can not have enough immodium for the radiation side effects, but those take a couple a weeks to come.

As far as the chemo, it usually hits me the day after chemo. I get very tired and my body aches. The nausea is very controlled by Compazine. My nurse told me to take them after breakfast & dinner for the first three days regardless if I need them or not, and that seems to be working for me.

The chemo is a drip, and the radiation, is nothing compared to what you already been through.

Good luck and keep us posted.

's and ers to you..

Sirensong, I did get your pictures they are beautiful.... )
Unread 06-20-2003, 01:30 AM
Dear Ladies,

What can I say, you are great. You have been so helpful, I even told my husband that he did not need to go with me for my first chemo. He seems a bit relieved at this.

In answer to questions, my stage of cancer is between II & III. SirenSong, you asked about surgery, well here in Holland they try to cure with chemo and radiation and since with my mine, it's mostly vaginal, and it almost fills the whole canal, they are hesitant as nothing would be functional there anymore and would need alot of reconstruction. I would however like to have the surgery, as I have had endriometrosis for many years and it has made mush out of my insides.

Now I'm curious about something else, since my cancer is a bit rare being vaginal, I can easily notice changes in the size of the tumor (not sure if the knowing is good or not...) I have noticed that it's grown even within the last couple of weeks. Do y'all feel that is normal, or am I one of the lucky ones to have such an excellent blood flow that it just naturally does this... I know that last year, when I had my pap smear in January (2002) it was not detected. My doctor says that was because the spreader thing they used, went right over and past it. This by the way has made me an advocate for telling ladies that when they get their pap smears done, they should ask that for a bit more of an inspection to avoid this. Anyway, it was not noticed, now it's 5 x 4 x 3 cm's.
Unread 06-20-2003, 06:30 AM
I am glad that you are doing okay

I had the exact treatment that you are having (Cisplatin and radiation) The first week I wasn't given anything for the nausea and the worse I felt was comparable to being on a rollercoster ride. That is the best that I can describe it.

I started having diarrhea on wednesday of the first week. Radiation blamed it on the chemo and chemo blamed it on radiation. That really didn't bother me too much and they ended up giving me some immioudium (sp), which seemed to help. Towards the end of my treatments I started having a slightly painful bladder & urgency. But the pain gone away, but I still have some urgency at times.

Usually my worse day was the 2nd day after the chemo, but it was still tolerable.
Unread 06-20-2003, 06:51 AM
What to expect with combo Chemo and Radiation Therapy

Well it just goes to show ya, if they don't give you something for the nausea, force them to at gunpoint if needed! lol. Im so sorry to hear about your nausea and problems.

Tammie, Great to see you are still keeping us with everything, hope you are feeling better hun.


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