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Stage III

staceyfel
Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2004

Hello. I am soo glad i found this website! I was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer at age 35 -after my surgery to remove a tumor from my colon. My surgery was less than 3 weeks ago. The docs want me to do chemo (Flourouricil and Leucoverin) I am scared to death of chemo - side effects and whether or not it really helps. Could any one of you share your experiences with chemo of this sort applied to treat Stage III colon cancer. Please help! I am so confused about what to do!

kerry's picture
kerry
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003

Hi Stacey,

I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, had surgery which removed about 1/3 of my colon, then 6 months of chemotherapy which included 5FU, Leukovorin and Camptosar. The chemo is tough and you will be sick occasionally and have various side effects, but it affects everyone differently. Some people you will hear from came out of it with only mildly affected, others had more servere side effects. How many lymph nodes were positive. I had 2 out of 10 and the doctors have given me a good prognosis for recovery. Keep a good attitude, stay positive - the six months will be over before you know it. This site will help you every step of the way, we'll all be here for you so don't hesitate to vent, cry, or pray here.

My last chemo treatment was 11 months ago tomorrow (9th) and I am feeling better each day. My tests have come back good and I have a positive outlook on life. I am glad I chose the chemotherapy. It was tough, but worth it.

Take care and let us know how you are doing.

Kerry

kerry's picture
kerry
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003

Hi Stacey,

You asked about my side effects: They were diahrrea, bloating, gas, nausea (meds helped with the vomiting, sleepless (in fact, I found this wonderful site at about 3:00 am one morning when I couldn't sleep). I did have some minor hair thinning, but I am fortunate to have very thick hair, so it was noticed only by me when I shampooed or combed. I had lots of fatigue which I attributed to my lack of sleep. I did take a RX for sleeping pills, but sometimes they didn't help. Please remember that not everyone has the same side effects, but these are some of the things that shouldn't surprise you. I did have some liver enzymes increase which concerned the doctor, but the CT scan showed nothing and the onc. thought it was the chemo. I also had numbness in my hands and arms on occasion and extra redness on my palms and other private areas.

It helped me to get up everyday and try to be as normal as possible. I was fortunate in that I didn't have to go to work every day.

Keep us posted and if you have any questions, please feel free to post. We've all been there. If you would prefer, you can email me direct at: mkerry@sbcglobal.net

Take care Stacey,

Kerry

kaqueel
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2004

Hello Stacey, I am 37 years old with stage3 cancer, had surgery this past New Year's eve. I have been undergoing chemo with 5FU and Leucovorin also. Believe it or not, I had chemo today, later I went to work for 8 hours and now surfing the web. I have 4 more weeks of chemo left.

As Kerry pointed out, each person reacts differently to chemo treatments. I had no adverse reactions at all, my Oncologist credits my age and overall health for not having any reactions. You are younger than I am, and if my Oncologist is right about it, you would probably handle it well too.

As for whether or not Chemo will help and one will have no recurrance is debatable. My suggestion is to trust your Oncologist and proceed with the treatments.

Were any of your Lymph nodes involved? During my surgery the surgeon removed 15 Lymph nodes, none tested positive, yet I proceeded with chemo to avoid being a negative stat in the study of the effects of adjuvant chemotherapy.

Best wishes, keep us posted.

staceyfel
Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2004

I 51 lymph nodes removed. 3 of those had cancer cells. I will most likely do the chemo...seems to be the right thing. Kerry: you mentioned your chemo was tough? what kind of side effects did you have. Kaqueel - I am expecting things will go well for me..I am in great shape and practice yoga daily -- whichh as also helped me recover from my surgery. I don't plan on letting chemo rob me of my love of exercise and health.

staceyfel
Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2004

also...i might be doing the 12 month chemo..where side effects are even less likely. my doc says the 6 mos chemo would be tougher, since it is more concerntrated.

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi. I was also diagnosed Stage III (at age 43), but mine was rectal cancer. I also had chemotherapy after surgery. Everyone is different, but my side effects were not bad: mild nausea (medication helped) and mild fatigue. No hair loss. I am very glad I did the chemo. I wanted to give myself the best chance to get rid of any lingering cancer cells! I wish you all the best, and don't hesitate to write here -- it is a great group --
Tara

kangatoo's picture
kangatoo
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hya Stacey--stage ll here--1/3 colon removal in aug. 03, then same regime as you--5FU/Leucovorin.
This was over 6 months--5 days straight via hand vein infusion then 3 weeks of then 5 days etc. etc.
As the guys/gals here have said everyone is different as far as side-effects.BTW--I am male , 48 y/o.
I have to admit I had a rough time of it--don't want to alarm you as others got thru it very well--the chemo doesn't desriminate--however you are younger and may get thru it with little trouble--I certainly hope you do.
My side effects were;
24/7 nausea "feeling" for the whole 6 months--however the meds did stop me throwing up.
Some mouth ulcers.
Occassional skin rashes--oh--insect bites(ie-mosquitoes) caused extreme skin reactions.
Diarrhea for about 48 hours during the 2 week off chemo period.
Minor hair loss--but difficult for friends to notice.
Extreme fatigue and tiredness.This seems to be typical on this regime but not always the case Stacey.

Would I go thru it again??---sure--I tolrated it because I knew it was going to give me a better fighting chance.
All in all it is tolerable but nonetheless frustrating.
You can do it Stacey--and when you finish chemo I believe you will look back and do it again if you had to.
Come here as often as you like for reassurance/guidance and support.--oh--and luv n huggs go with that as well.

I had to be honest with you Stacey---it is no game nor is it pleasant--but the truth has to be told---I hope yu get thru this with few problems.
And by all means tell your clinic nurses of ANYTHING you get concerned about!!!!
luv n huggs from OZ--kanga n Jen

nettie4
Posts: 145
Joined: Mar 2004

hello there. i was 28 when first dx and am now 34 with a recurrence in 02. i had 14 nodes removed and 4 were positvie for cancer and first dx. my first chemo was luc and 5fu and i had bad side affects but the drs say a am a rarity on side affects. it will affect a person differently from what i have even witnessed in the chemo rooms. unfortunatly all we have is chemo for this awful disease and now i am almost in remission again. i am on what is called folfox and i would ask your onc about that treatment since some of your nodes were positve. some onc put patients on that even though it is usually for stage 4. i hope your treatment goes well and yes it does go fast. i have been on treatment since april 03, with minor break but still on now. a positive attitude and keeping in mind its only a little while does help. i also have a 5 and 7 yr old that keep me going. take care.

nettie

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1281
Joined: Nov 2001

Hi Stacey,I was dx stage 3 with a highly aggressive tumour. they removed most of my des colon 6 of 13 nodes were cancerous. I started on 5fu and luc but had to stop because of bowel osmossis, was heading for renal failure . Finished up on an old regime of 5 fu and levamisol weekly for a yesr. Not pleasant but obviously I had a poor tolerance to chemo. On the up side I am half way thru my 7th year ,still ca free. Good luck just remember it is your choice ,as for me ,I chose to fight ca with every weapon at my disposal, good luck ,Ron.

jsabol's picture
jsabol
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Stacey,
I too found this site while recovering from my colectomy in December, 1 polyp, 1 positive node. In January I started 5FU and leuco, weekly for 6 weeks, with 1 week off. My surgeon was actually pleased that they found the node, feeling that little cells may be lurking elsewhere, and wanting to "blast them". I agree, and felt chemo was the choice for me.
I'm 53, also in good shape. Surgery went well, and chemo has been pretty manageable. (I'm even getting tired of folks telling me how good I look, despite....)
4 more treatments left!!!! I was also pretty nervous about chemo, despite being a nurse and having my dad go through this regimen for a year.
Now to the info...as others have said, each person reacts differently, but this is a generally well tolerated regimen. My first onc called it "drive in, drive out, go home and cook dinner". My experience with fatigue did not meet those expectatations, although my first 12 weeks weren't too bad and I continued to work 4 days a week. Occasional diarrhea, some mouth sores, split corners of my mouth, (which turned out to be an easily treated fungal infection). My main symptoms have been skin. Dry, very smooth and tender finger tips, lost much body hair, but the hair on my head is holding (and I've gotten better with the eyebrow pencil!). I'm super sensitive to the sun now, and seem to develop new blotches each time I go out....lovely!, but my onc says most should fade. My onc's office gave me a little arsenal of anti-diarrhea, anti-nausea and super moouthwash meds, which were reassuring to have even weeks before I used any. I have not experienced any nausea, but my sense of taste has been diminished. I also have been losing potassium, again replaced by a pill.
I am now on medical leave, wake up late and take a nice nap each day, but am able to function as a stay at home mom with a love for gardening, even cleaned and re-stained the deck last week!
Are you having an access port? I got one after 5 weeks, when my usually very co-operative veins were screaming from sensitivity to the chemicals; I love my port!
So....hope this is not too much info; as I was told when I started here, you WILL get through this.
Hang in there and keeep us posted. Feel free to use my own e-mail if you have other questions.
Regards, Judy

Fitlisa
Posts: 99
Joined: May 2004

Hi Stacey and welcome to the site.

I was diagnosed with Stage III Colon cancer on May11, 2004 at age 42 having no family history or symptoms at all. I had surgery a week later to remove 2 feet of bowel but my surgeon deemed the surgery a complete success, having removed all of the tumor and the blood supply. 14 of 32 nodes were positive so I had no choice but to have chemo.

My chemo is Folfox (5-fu/leuv/oxil) with drugs given before for nauseau. I had my first 2 treatents last week and I will continue 2x every 2 weeks for 6 months. I am rare in that my chemo started only 2 weeks post surgery- not something I would recommend if you can wait, but, my onc and I wanted to be aggressive with this cancer so we chose to fight early and hard.

As for side effects, I am having trouble with nausea - mainly constant queasiness from the second day of treatment until around the Tuesday following treatment. We are actually are meeting with my oncologist today to discuss anti-nausea meds (we tried 4 last week, Ativan, Compizine, and Phenergan plus the premed anti-nausea drugs given with the infusion) as none worked for me so far. I have been tired but I wonder if part of that is also my surgical recovery.

Those are my only side effects so far but, as I said, I hae only had 2 of 24 treatments so far.

Its scary but its finite - this shall end and you will hopefully be cancer free at the end. Keep positive thoughts, but if you cant, come to this site and let us help you. Sadly, on this site we are all in the same spot and,therefore, are uniquely qualified to help each other.

Lisa

mhirai3776
Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2004

Hi. I was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer at age 30. I had surgery and chemotherapy for 6 months. My major side effects were nausea, vomiting, and weight gain. I started to run and lift weights once I recovered from the surgery; I wanted to build a stronger body. I visualized as I exercise that my body is killing anything bad in it. It is great that you practice yoga. Yoga will be great for you. I also tried Reiki and I strongly believe that it helped me survive. It has been 10 years since the diagnosis. You said that you were in great shape. My doctors used to say to me, "You are young, fit, and otherwise healthy. You will do well." You will survive too, Stacey. I am sending you my positive thoughts.

Best wishes,

Bojaboja

jgomez's picture
jgomez
Posts: 25
Joined: Nov 2003

Hi Stacey,
I was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer at age 35, now I am 38. 1/3 of my colon was removed. I had 4 positive lymph nodes out of 22. I had 6 months of chemo with Oxaliplatino (3 months) and Irinotecan (3 months).
My side effects were the normal with nausea, vomit, fatigue, diarrhea, etc.
You have to be think positive. At that time of chemo, my family was my support, I have two kids (5 and 4 years old) and my wife that I admire and love very much.
Take care
Jose

StacyGleaso's picture
StacyGleaso
Posts: 1246
Joined: Mar 2003

Hey Stace (great name, by the way!)

I was diagnosed with stage 4 at age 33. Today, 3 yrs later, I am cancer free. Mine started with a colon tumor, and as a result, 40% of my liver and two lymph nodes were affected. I had the same chemos they want you to have, alone with camptosar. I had no side effects. Never missed a day of work, and still tended to my 3 kids, ages 2, 4, & 7 at that time. You can have success. Just take each day as it comes.

Get a port implanted if you're getting chemo. Spares the veins. Drink tons of water prior and after chemo. If you do feel nausea, get a prescription to alleviate it.

Keep us posted,

Stacy

cheer3's picture
cheer3
Posts: 106
Joined: May 2003

Hello Stacey, I am so sorry you must face all these decisions, it can be so hard,and in the end it is your decesion, no one can do it for you. Your Life is worth anything you can do. I was stage IV. I went with agressive treatment.I remain cancer free nine months after treatment. It helped me to Live in The Moment.
Please keep us posted. You will be in my Prayers.
Jean

2bhealed's picture
2bhealed
Posts: 2084
Joined: Dec 2001

hello Stacey,

I join the ranks of Stage III , lymph pos, zero mets cancer of the sigmoid colon. I was dx'ed at 39....almost 3 years ago. I had a successful resection, no colostomy, and have been cancer free for all this time.

The significance of this is that I did NOT DO CHEMO!!! I was given the same adjuvant chemo suggestion--5 FU and leucovorin. I said NO THANK YOU!!

My sister had adenocarcinoma of the small intestine dx'ed when she was 29. I watched what it did to her and based on my research and experience, I opted to treat (HEAL) my cancer with a holistic approach. I went into overdrive in the research mode and came up with a protocol that has been successful so far. I go for tests every 6 months at the Mayo Clinic and am watched extra specially close by my onc because of this.

I chose to use Eastern Medicine healing modalities b/c they coincide more with my belief system on healing. I used Tradtional Chinese Medicine, herbs, supplements, acupuncture, massage, detoxing, diet, juicing, chiropractic....etc.....you can read more on my website if you are interested.

Chemo scared the pants off me after watching my sister, my aunt and my grandfather all succumb to it and their cancers. My sister was only 33 when she died and left a 5 month old baby girl. I have 5 kids. I have too much life in me left.

It is a deeply personal decision ultimately, but I want you to know that there ARE plenty of viable, reasonable, successful, and NON-quackery methods for treating cancer that do not include chemo. Your onc will not tell you so I will!! :-)

I have never been healthier nor felt so energetic in my adult years than I have since my post-cancer healing time. I have not had to spend one night in the hospital due to diarrhea induced dehydratio, no hair loss, no vomitting, no dangerously low white blood cell counts, no numbness in my extremeties, no fear of secondary cancers sprouting up from the chemo, no heart and kidney damage, no skin problems....you get the picture?

hope you find some answers. I have found help from these books and websites:

Beating Cancer With Nutrition by Patrick Quillin

Questioning Chemo by Dr. Ralph Moss

Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch and Balch

www.hacres.com

www.gardenoflifeusa.com

www.curezone.lcom

www.cancerdecisions.com

and the list goes on.....

peace, emily who understands the fear and confusion believe me!!

staceyfel
Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2004

That is good that you have done well without chemo. I plan on using alternative methods as well, but will be doing the mild chemo as suggested by my onc. Its hard to know - I could easily not do chemo, be one of the lucky ones, and have no cancer return, but just because i don't do chemo doesn't mean that alternative methods prevented the cancer from returning.

stiltz1
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2004

I'd klike some feedback on oxaliplatin; I have stage 3 with two nodes involved. the oncs have been pushing oxaliplatin. Any advice greatly appreciated. My tendency is to go with 5fu leu, whose side effects are much less

sallyjoy
Posts: 102
Joined: Apr 2004

My hubby has had 3 treatments so far. One of the chemo drugs is the oxiliplatin. It causes sensitivity t cold. He gets numb and tingly if he touches cold objects or food/drinks.His sensitivy increases with each treatment although it has not been unbearable. He knows to keep away from cold drinks, etc.right after treat ment for about 6 days (his treatments are every 2 weeks) after that he slowly starts having colder things to drink and by week 2 he's eating ice cream. so week 2 we all have sundaes :) every day if he wants :) during the 1st week i get him gatorade and cola and water, ,etc. and leave it at room temp, so he has plenty to choose from, cause warm water is not so appetizing esp. if one is feeling queasy as he often does that 1st week. He also has to be careful when he goes to wash his hands, cause he is so used to just turning the water on and not thinking, but he is more careful now. He lets the water run til its warmer before brushing his teeth and washing, etc. They say the tingly stuff can become permanent, but it';s not common and so far he has tolerated it well and it reverses as soon as he warms stuff back up. Well good luck to you and I hope this helps... God Bless.
Sally Jo

stiltz1
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2004

Sallyjoe; why did the oncs suggest ociplatin; did your husband have it in the nodes and how many?

LindaJean
Posts: 19
Joined: Jun 2004

Feedback on oxaliplatin; I had surgery March 2004, stage 3 with one node positive. My onc gave me the choice to go with the folfox treatment which includes oxaliplatin or just 5fu and lecuvorin. I have asked every nurse that administers the chemo if folfox is used often and they all seem to say that it is more of the standard treatment used, however realizing it most likely depends on the type colon cancer being treated. I am 50 and the side effects have been minimal to say the least. The week of treatment I am more tired, a little quizziness, but overall okay. The week after I am fine. I have #4 coming up next week. Keep us posted and good luck with the decision.

jana11
Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

Hi. I was diagnosed at age 33 November 2002. I had chemo/radiation then surgery (3 positive lymph nodes) then chemo for another 4 months with Xeloda (oral 5-FU) and CPT-11. I worked full time the whole time. I felt tired alot, but didn't slow down much. I had nausea every now and then, and diarrhea more often. I recovered from surgery very well - attribute most of that to yoga. Stretch those muscles!!
I had a 6 month remission, but then got a lung met - so I will start chemo again next week. Trying to decide which agents to use......
Stay positive. This site is great for hearing happy and inspiring stories.
For a while I didn't talk about my cancer much - I look healthy. But now I am a proud member of the cancer club and think that talking about it helps me.
Do whatever works for you... we are all here for each other!

Best of luck - jana

cindy262
Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2004

hi...

dont be afraid. Find a Board Certified Oncologist.and trust him. I would do the most aggressive chemo, you are young and strong.

My cousin had colon cancer 15 yrs ago, at age 44.took the chemo, and is fine.

Persevere. Best wishes, Cindy

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