A website for discussions about any type of cancer, including lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, laryngeal cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and others
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: Chemo side effects

  1. #1
    Senior User dizzylizzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    127

    Chemo side effects

    I know that the side effects are different for everyone and it makes it fairly scary really not knowing what will happen. I was just diognosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and have not begun treatment yet but will be doing so shortly. Hearing alot about side effects such as nausea, hair loss and even infertility. How many rounds of chemo before it begins effecting your hair? What kind of foods did people find tolerable? Just looking for first hand experiences to help ease the anxiety a bit.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Administrator Top User ChemoMan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    8,440
    Blog Entries
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by dizzylizzy View Post
    I know that the side effects are different for everyone and it makes it fairly scary really not knowing what will happen. I was just diognosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and have not begun treatment yet but will be doing so shortly. Hearing alot about side effects such as nausea, hair loss and even infertility. How many rounds of chemo before it begins effecting your hair? What kind of foods did people find tolerable? Just looking for first hand experiences to help ease the anxiety a bit.

    Thanks
    First you need to know what chemo you will be getting. Its probably ABVD. RE nausea ABVD is not too bad. Ginger helps, I found sipping dry ginger ale was great, but if it becomes a problem you need medication You may or may not be given some anti nausea meds if so take them the minute you feel queasy, do not wait until you actually get sick, in other words be proactive with the meds. RE hair loss it is very likely you will lose your hair. Most people regardless of gender buzz it short ( it sorta clogs the drains otherwise) don't worry it will grow back. RE infertility plenty of people have had children after treatment, and this is the norm, but steps can be taken in case this is an area of concern for you. Re tolerable foods the general rule of thumb is eat what you like as your taste buds will be screwed up, but eat enough proteins.

    Hang in there the general consensus is that it is not as bad as its made out to be.

    Good Luck
    Age 58
    Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma
    Stage 2a
    Finished six cycles of R chop 21 26th May 2008
    Officially in remission 9th July 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 1st October 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 17th June 2009
    Remission reconfirmed 7th June 2010
    Remission reconfirmed 6th July 2011
    NED on the 2/01/2013
    No more scheduled visits to the Prof
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=9620

    RULE NUMBER 1.....Don't Panic
    RULE NUMBER 2..... Don't forget rule Number 1

    Great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

    I may not have gone where I intended to go,
    but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

  3. #3
    Senior User
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    175
    The answer to the nausea question depends on where you are in the world. Here in Europe, they give you anti-nausea drugs at the same time as the chemotherapy, so nausea is never a problem. Once when I was in hospital, another patient was sick after chemo because they'd forgotten to give him the injection (Emend?), and my oncologist said it was the first time in her career she'd ever seen anybody be sick.

    In some parts of the world (the UK?) they don't do it automatically but prescribe anti-nausea drugs for you to take.

    Eat normally, is the best advice, though you might find your tastes changing. It can be a bit like pregnancy - you suddenly find that some smells and tastes turn you off. Be aware that a lot of the nutritional advice that's given to people was written in the bad old days, when patients were throwing up all the time. The information hasn't been adjusted, so cancer patients are still being told to eat as much as possible - which leads, unfortunately, to weight gain which can be very hard to get rid of later. I know of one girl who was told she was too thin for chemo and to put on weight quickly. She dutifully ate spoonfuls of Nutella - and now complains about her 'chemo arse'.

    Having said that, chemo is not the time to diet!

    Re: fertility. I was also given a powerful hormonal drug to shut down my ovaries, in an attempt to protect them from chemotherapy. They asked me if I wanted to freeze eggs before treatment, just in case, and I said no. The reason chemo causes hair loss and - potentially - infertility is that it targets fast-dividing cells. Hair follicles and gonadal tissues are both fast dividing.

    Be VERY proactive on this if you are looking to have children. Many people get through chemo without damage to their fertility, but it's not something you want to risk.

  4. #4
    Experienced User LancashireLass's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Oldham, Lancashie, UK
    Posts
    74
    Hi DizzyLizzy,

    Welcome from another newbie

    I had my first cycle of chemo on 21.2.11. I have had very few side effects but I did start to lose my hair last week. I did have my cut from shoulder length to just below ear length. Other side effect have included from time to time dry itchy skin, very very slight neuropathy in my finger tips and tiredness . I am having R-CHOP 21 and my next cycle begins tomorrow.

    As a newbie myself, the best advice I can give you is to listen to ChemoMan, Kermica and other senior users as they are the most knowlegeable, really helpful and very supportive.

    Wishing you well
    Michelle
    Age 44
    Diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma 11th Feb 2011
    Stage 3B
    CT scan & biopsy from under arm
    Lymph nodes in neck, collar bone and under arms. Enlarged spleen.
    Weight loss & fatigue
    Treatment - R-CHOP 8 cycles 21.2.11 to 18.7.11

    2 Monthly Retuximab maintainence starts 12.9.11 for 2 years

    I remember the RULES!!!!!

  5. #5
    Administrator Top User ChemoMan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    8,440
    Blog Entries
    2
    Hi

    Hearing alot about side effects such as nausea, hair loss and even infertility
    You can get eggs harvested but you need to do this quick before chemo. As Alexie said there are also other options which can be taken to protect your ovaries. Once you have chemo, the dice has been thrown and its down to luck. Discuss this with the doctor as soon as you can. Its always a good idea to write questions down as you think of them and take that to the doctors, that way you won't forget everything
    Age 58
    Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma
    Stage 2a
    Finished six cycles of R chop 21 26th May 2008
    Officially in remission 9th July 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 1st October 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 17th June 2009
    Remission reconfirmed 7th June 2010
    Remission reconfirmed 6th July 2011
    NED on the 2/01/2013
    No more scheduled visits to the Prof
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=9620

    RULE NUMBER 1.....Don't Panic
    RULE NUMBER 2..... Don't forget rule Number 1

    Great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

    I may not have gone where I intended to go,
    but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

  6. #6
    Regular User
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    30
    Infertility is what scares me the most.

    Usually, I think, they administer pretty strong drugs to combat nausea. Hasn't really been an issue with me.

    I think also my oncologist gives me steroids during chemo, so I have actually shot up in weight. The only food I find unbearable is those nasty fast food commercials like burger king or subway. Makes me nausea. Or, for some reason blueberry muffins, if it is very sugary. or grilled cheese for some reason.

    My hair, I cut it short as a precaution but never fully lost it. It fell out slowly and sporadically, but seems to have stopped and is even growing back. Not everyone loses it I suppose. My beard is even growing back.

    For the most part, I pig out on food.

  7. #7
    Administrator Top User ChemoMan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    8,440
    Blog Entries
    2
    Hi

    Infertility is what scares me the most.
    Infertility in males is uncommon with ABVD and most patients recover spermatogenesis
    I think also my oncologist gives me steroids during chemo, so I have actually shot up in weight.
    Definitely... the P in CHOP and the D in ABVD are steroids. In large doses they are antineoplastic ( a chemo drug). It stimulates the appetite and makes you look bloated and fat. Be careful I threw up for 8 and a half hours after pigging out because I was peaking on prednisolne. Its bloody hard to switch the uber appetite off. I put on 15 kilos in about 6 months after chemo. I found strong tasting or strong smelling foods nauseating during chemo.

    Good luck to all of us
    Last edited by ChemoMan; 03-19-2011 at 08:00 AM.
    Age 58
    Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma
    Stage 2a
    Finished six cycles of R chop 21 26th May 2008
    Officially in remission 9th July 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 1st October 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 17th June 2009
    Remission reconfirmed 7th June 2010
    Remission reconfirmed 6th July 2011
    NED on the 2/01/2013
    No more scheduled visits to the Prof
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=9620

    RULE NUMBER 1.....Don't Panic
    RULE NUMBER 2..... Don't forget rule Number 1

    Great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

    I may not have gone where I intended to go,
    but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

  8. #8
    Senior User dizzylizzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    127
    Hello all sorry on the slow reply.
    I am meeting with a specialist in a few days so will discuss all the fertility options then. Looking forward to finding out my treatment and schedual. Becoming fairly high anxiety. Having a hard time really accepting this since I feel so healthy still. Want to soak up as much information as I can as I am finding it very comforting. It is so amazing to hear so many positive stories, gives me so much more hope for my self. Scared though. I know people mean well but I am prefering alot of alone time so I can process everything and do as much reading and research as possible.

    I will try to be as proactive as possible in regards to nausea. Still confused as to what to expect but I know everyone has an idividual experience so have to roll with it as it comes I suppose. Want to know as much about all symptoms and solutions so will know best how to deal when a problem arrives. I am already having trouble sleeping but think it is worry induced. As soon as my eyes close all I think about it needles and chemo... also many late nights researching!

    I know that chemo can make it much easier to get sick. I am working as a nanny right now (usually also lifeguard and teach swimming but am on an extended leave) so I am around kids and am curious if that is still ok. During the summer the 3 kids I work with wont really be exposed to other children so possibly less likely to pick up bugs? I am really hoping to remain working as I find it highly enjoyable and need to keep a little income if possible, but am willing to take a leave/terminate position if I feel it is putting me at risk.

  9. #9
    Regular User
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    17
    Lizzy,

    Here is a well written ABVD for newbs that will help give you an idea of what to expect.
    http://hodgkindisease.wordpress.com/...-to-get-chemo/

    I'm being treated at the Vancouver BCCA. For nausea I have been prescribed, Ondansetron (pre-chemo), Dexamethasone (pre-chemo and for two day following) and Metoclopramide (as needed). My oncologist said this is the typical antiemetic protocol given in BC. It will be adjusted if it is not effective enough or the side-effects are too severe. I haven't started ABVD yet (April 1) so I cannot offer any first hand knowledge.

    Merch
    Age: 26 | Male
    March 2011 | Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkins Lymphoma - Stage IVb
    April.. 2011 | 6 Cycles ABVD + SGN-35
    http://kickingthehodge.blogspot.com

  10. #10
    Senior User Dorney1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    347
    Hi Lizzy,

    I was treated for stage 11b Hodgkins February last year. My treatment was 4 cycles of ABVD plus 30gy radiation.

    I will imagine, if you're stage 1, you will also do 4 cycles (8 treatments) of ABVD but without radiation therapy. Alternatively, there are a number of clinical trials at the moment looking at reducing treatment options and I have heard of some stage 1 people only doing 2 or 3 cycles.

    Anyway, I appreciate this is a scary time but try and think of chemo as your friend. At stage 1 NSHD without symptoms, you have the best possible diagnosis in terms of cure rates. The cure rate is in the high 90% mark so it's highly likely that one day this will all be a distant memory and while it will undoubtably be a difficult few months, stay strong, try and stay positive and use this forum - it's a highly valuable tool.

    Also, the other thing I'd mention, which no one did to me, is ENJOY your free time. This ordeal will provide you with a lot of free time, a lot of it alone. I spent far too much time thinking I should act like a sick person and it wasn't until a bit further in to treatment did I realise that I had a lot of time to do simple things that normally doesn't allow. It also provides a great deal of time for introspection and gaining perspective. A lot of us come out the other side as different people.

    As for working with kids, check with the doc but it's likely to be a huge no-no. I was told to stay away from sickly people and kids carry the most germs. I was told to quit work on the basis I have to get a tube/subway to the city and it's a breeding ground for germs.

    Hope this helps....any other questions just ask.

    James
    Diagnosed Mixed Cellularity Hodgkins Lymphoma 1st February 2010. 4 cycles ABVD and 30 gy radiatiotherapy. NED.

  11. #11
    Senior User dizzylizzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    127
    The specialist says fertility should not be an issue with ABVD.

    Merch- I believe I was given a script for the same meds as you.

    Dorney- stage 11? Or is that a typo? I found out I am stage 2 but will be following the same treatment schedual you laid out. He said working with the kids should be ok if the oldest one comes out of daycare so she wont be around the other kids and as long as they are all healthy and I feel I have enough energy for it. So just play it by ear as far as work goes I guess. I am very lucky with my living situation and everything so if I cant keep working I will be ok. I will definitly try to enjoy the time I have. Will have my dog around so wont be completely alone


    He seemed pretty positive that going into this young and healthy with help me alot so here it goes!

  12. #12
    Senior User dizzylizzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    127
    Or perhaps stage 2 and I was just having a blonde moment :P

  13. #13
    Newbie New User
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Germantown,MD
    Posts
    7
    I just finished my first round of EPOCH. My hair started falling out at day 14. I really didn't have all the scary side effects you hear about. I have fatigue for sure and a rare side effect from one of the drugs in the chemo. That side effect was a nightmare but it only effects 10% of patients. My digestive system and bowels completely shut down from the venchristine(not sure if that's rigjt). My team says this shouldn't happen again.
    Age 37
    Diagnosed Feb 8 2011 Grey Zone Lymphoma
    Stage 2
    Just started first round of EPOCH March 12 2011

  14. #14
    Senior User Dorney1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    347
    Quote Originally Posted by dizzylizzy View Post
    Or perhaps stage 2 and I was just having a blonde moment :P
    Ha ha yep stage 2 or II - I think I had a blonde moment using 1's. I tell you, if I genuinley had stage ELEVEN, I doubt I'd be here to tel the tale! ha ha.

    James
    Diagnosed Mixed Cellularity Hodgkins Lymphoma 1st February 2010. 4 cycles ABVD and 30 gy radiatiotherapy. NED.

  15. #15
    Senior User dizzylizzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    127
    Cat- Did this bad reaction happen right away or later on while you were at home?

    Dorney- Hilarious! Was going to say Ive never heard of such a stage but power to ya

  16. #16
    Newbie New User
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Germantown,MD
    Posts
    7
    The pain started at day 8 at home. It started out like intense stomach pain then progressed to a level 15 pain on a 1-10 scale on day 12. I am on day 3 of my second cycle and hoping for the best
    Age 37
    Diagnosed Feb 8 2011 Grey Zone Lymphoma
    Stage 2
    Just started first round of EPOCH March 12 2011

  17. #17
    Regular User RockyMiranda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Des Moines, IA, United States
    Posts
    29
    dizzylizzy, I went through 6 months of ABVD having HL as well. The day of my chemo I was always fine, but the next two days for me were harsh. Especially that first round because it starts to work so quickly and your body isn't used to it.

    My advice: if they give you meds (I had Zofran here in the US and it is a miracle drug I tell you!), then STAY ON TOP OF THEM. Seriously, take them like clockwork as perscribed, even if you don't feel sick, because this will prevent you from feeling sick when it's too late!

    My hairloss started 2 months after my first treatment, where it really started to come out a lot. I had cut it to a pixie cut when I first got diagnosed, because I didn't want to traumatize myself with large clumps of hair suddenly coming out. I was glad I did, it made the mess on the pillow when I woke up much tidier! (it was like seeing pine needles on my pillow at that point!) I did get a wig, but they are quite hot in warm weather. Mostly I wore cooler cotton scarves around my head, tied in the back fashionably in a knot I never completely lost all of my hair, but the little that was there washed out in color. I'm a natural auburn red head, and my hair turned to a mousy blond/brown. I started loosing my eyebrows towards the end, maybe the 5th month. Again, not completely gone, but washed out looking, and that's when I looked really different.


    Food...ugh, I'm sad to say I did not do so well with food. My reaction to even smells of what shoudl have been 'good' food cooking, made me nauseated. The smell of scrambled eggs was the worst Fruit became too sour for my tastebuds. I went through most of my treatments on my own, so I mostly ened up nuking dull, unsavory processed food in the microwave. Of course, then I gained 10 pounds I'm hoping if I do have to go through chemo again, I'll try to push myself to eat better this time around.

    Other side effects I had: massive fatigue, body aches, constipation (not pretty, but true, had a terrible problem with this, it's from the chemo drugs), and "chemo brain" (ie, hard time concentraiting, recalling words, etc.)

    I hope this helps in being prepared, but keep in mind everyone's experiences are quite different.
    Rocky

    Age: 33
    Hodgkin's Lymphoma
    Stage 2B
    Diagnosed in 2009, age 30
    Neck, chest, under arms
    6 months chemo, every 2 weeks: ABVD
    relapse April 2011
    High dose chemo+Auto SCT, Stanford Hospitals 8/3/11
    Feel'n great since!

  18. #18
    Regular User
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by RockyMiranda View Post
    My advice: if they give you meds (I had Zofran here in the US and it is a miracle drug I tell you!), then STAY ON TOP OF THEM. Seriously, take them like clockwork as perscribed, even if you don't feel sick, because this will prevent you from feeling sick when it's too late!
    FYI Lizzy, Zofran = Ondansetron.
    Age: 26 | Male
    March 2011 | Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkins Lymphoma - Stage IVb
    April.. 2011 | 6 Cycles ABVD + SGN-35
    http://kickingthehodge.blogspot.com

  19. #19
    Regular User RockyMiranda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Des Moines, IA, United States
    Posts
    29
    Sorry, yes, Ondansetron. The medical terms of the generics are harder for me to remember.
    Rocky

    Age: 33
    Hodgkin's Lymphoma
    Stage 2B
    Diagnosed in 2009, age 30
    Neck, chest, under arms
    6 months chemo, every 2 weeks: ABVD
    relapse April 2011
    High dose chemo+Auto SCT, Stanford Hospitals 8/3/11
    Feel'n great since!

  20. #20
    Senior User dizzylizzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    127
    Cat- Yikes Im sorry that happened to you

    Rocky- Just started ABVD today! Home, relaxing and so far feeling decent. Making sure to stay on top of the meds to try and make sure I dont start feeling sick. I do have that same pain medication you mentioned.

    I had really long hair until last week when I cut it into a bob just below my chin. Loving the new look and think it will make hairloss much less stressful when it does happen. Ive got a wig on order and will definitely wear it sometimes but the more I think about it the more I think I will be more than willing to rock a bald head if the mood strikes me. Definitely wear scarves and such too but Im not going to worry about what other people think of me if I have no hair. Just get some funky earrings and sunglasses It will be summertime here too while all this is going on so dont imagine Ill want a hot wig during those warm days. Met a few ladies today at the hospital and they also said the part they found most uncomfortable with the hairloss was the eyebrows and eyelashes. Just deal with it as it happens I suppose.

    Im usually very health concious when it comes to eating and have got the number for an oncology dietitian so will try to get some advice. I know that sometimes it will be more about getting something in my stomach and not about eating healthy foods.

    Overall first day went well and just hoping things continue on a positive path.

 
+ Reply to Thread

Similar Threads

  1. Chemo side effects
    By Shelbywi in forum Lung Cancer Forum
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 02-27-2012, 06:50 PM
  2. How bad to the side effects have to be before you get a vacation from chemo?
    By Buzzard in forum Colon Cancer and Rectal Cancer Forum
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 12-28-2011, 06:44 PM
  3. Chemo side effects
    By canadian kitty in forum Ovarian Cancer Forum
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 12-04-2011, 02:03 AM
  4. Will I get over the side-effects of chemo?
    By Priddle in forum Colon Cancer and Rectal Cancer Forum
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 01-16-2010, 01:36 AM
  5. Side Effects from Chemo
    By sweetkiss in forum General Cancer topics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-08-2005, 11:04 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts