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Cancer Spreads with Chemo?

Shayenne's picture
Shayenne
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

Does that happen? I though Chemo killed the cells, but can cancer still grow and spread everywhere, when you're on treatment? it hasn't I don't think with me, but in reading some of these posts, it scares me to think that new cancer grows elsewhere when I thought Chemo was supposed to be shrinking or killing it?

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

if it continues to grow on chemo, it means the chemo isn't working; unfortunately that does happen at times. Usually they just have to change the drugs being used. However, sometimes this beast is just too persistent and it doesn't respond to chemo, which is why research is so important.
mary

Shayenne's picture
Shayenne
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

Yikes! I didn't know that, god I hope mine is working, I would hate to think of going through all this and it's not responding. I agree Research is very important, in fact, I'm supposed to be donating some tissue soon, I just forgot the name of the girl I was supposed to talk too about that.

ldot123's picture
ldot123
Posts: 276
Joined: Apr 2008

Hey Shayenne,

I know what you are going through but I think it a lot of cases if not most it does kill the cancer cells. I would just assume it is doing what it is supposed to do. Easier said than done, I know, but hang in there. I am sending positive vibes your way.

Cheers, Lance

CherylHutch's picture
CherylHutch
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

With cancer, anything is possible... that is why it sucks! The analogy you can use is with a cold. With a cold, you take cold meds and for some people they work like a charm, with others, they don't do a thing and they still have to go through the whole darn cycle of the cold because none of the known cold meds work. The difference between a cold and cancer is he cold has it's cycle and then it's gone. With cancer, it will keep growing unless you take some pretty drastic measures (surgery/radiation) and heavy duty drug treatments (chemo). If you do these measures and the darn beast survives, then you have to try different drastic measures or drug treatments and hopefully will find one that stops the beast in his tracks... rather than the beast taking over.

Chemo will definitely kill off some cells... that's been proven and we know that happens. But some cells seem to manage to hold their breath until the chemo treatments are over and then they travel on their merry way until they find somewhere to settle and grow (dirty pigs!!)

In my case, as far as we knew when I was diagnosed, I only had the one tumour, which was removed surgically. Because it had broken through the intestinal wall and formed an abscess which was touching the abdominal wall and bladder (the abscess also had to be removed) AND I had 1 out of 17 lymph nodes test positive... I had to have the chemo/radiation. The chemo was to kill off any potential single cells floating around (some call this mop up) and the radiation was to zap the heck out of the section of abdominal wall that the abscess had been attached to. After that was all said and done, my CEA level rose, a PET scan was done and they found 1 out of 7 mets lit up the scan and there was a large tumour on my adrenal gland.

Now, the question... were they both there at the time of DX and the chemo did not affect them (IE: the cancer lived and continued growing while I was on chemo?) or did it somehow start anew after chemo (between the end of Oct/07 and Dec/07)? No one knows but I would think either it had been there all along and ignored the chemo or started shortly before the chemo was over. Either way, it doesn't make sense that it survived all the chemo that was thrown at me!

Well, we treated the adrenal tumour by removing the gland (last June)... and we ablated the one lung met in Jan/09. Now we are keeping an eye on the other mets on the lung that aren't big enough to light up the PET scan.

So the above is just to show that chemo is a drug treatment and is one tool that is used in treating cancer. But if the cancer remains or pops up somewhere else, there are other tools that are all part of the treatment plan. Even chemo...there's not just one chemo... there are a lot of chemo drugs out there and if one doesn't work, they'll try another. But that's where research is sooo important... to figure out the various combinations of chemo that will work, and to come up with new, bigger and better drugs.

Hugggggs,

Cheryl

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

Your comment "Chemo will definitely kill off some cells... that's been proven and we know that happens. But some cells seem to manage to hold their breath until the chemo treatments are over and then they travel on their merry way until they find somewhere to settle and grow (dirty pigs!!)" made me laugh! The thought of them holding their breaths was great! and dirty pigs indeed!
mary

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4672
Joined: May 2005

Another way to put it is that chemo is like cockroaches. It works for a while then it stops killing the cells. Sometimes it works long enough to kill all of the cancer cells but I think that is why they have to keep coming up with new drugs to fight it. Strange thing that cancer is, what works on one person does not always work on another person. Keep thinking positively.
-p

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

:)
mary

dorookie's picture
dorookie
Posts: 1684
Joined: Jul 2007

I am waiting for my PET scan results, I get them tomorrow. I have been on Xeloda for 4 rounds now and I am scared to death that the cancer might still be there or has come back while I am doing chemo. Last time it only took about 4 months after my last chemo for the beast to return in my lung. I just pray this time it wont come back. If it does I dont know what I am going to do. I dont know if I can continue to live on chemo, it sucks. I havent been able to work, I am so tired all the time and if I am tired I am sick. Well will knw tomorrow, wish me luck..
God Bles
Beth

Shayenne's picture
Shayenne
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

You are in my prayers, and I know chemo is so hard, but you can't let it beat you.. please beat IT! I have alot of energy when I'm off chemo, but man I know how hard it knocks you down, it definitley isn't fun, but I won't let it take over me, I just hate that I'll be feeling good one week, and then crappy the next, but I guess if that's what it's going to take to try and get better, I will have to do it, good luck tomorrow! let us know what happens!

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

Take a breath and know that you can only deal with the right now. Don't try to what if and don't try to deal with a problem that hasn't come yet. Your results will be good. God always gives you the strength you need to deal with what you need to deal with; not more, not less. It makes it too hard to get through today if you worry about tomorrow, so just don't do it! I continue to pray for you; you are a strong warrior and you CAN do it!
mary

dorookie's picture
dorookie
Posts: 1684
Joined: Jul 2007

I will keep you posted and I am trying very hard to stay positive....Till tomorrow...

Beth

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

going out to you for good results......God Bless....

dorookie's picture
dorookie
Posts: 1684
Joined: Jul 2007

I will need them for sure. I know God will be with me no matter what the results are, I just pray for peace to accept whatever the results maybe. I am trying not to be down or depressed, because God has already given me such a wonderful gift of a upcoming grandbaby. And I thank him daily for it.

Beth

Kathleen808's picture
Kathleen808
Posts: 2306
Joined: Jan 2009

Hi Beth,
I can imagine the waiting. You are strong. I am praying for you right now.
Aloha,
Kathleen

colon2's picture
colon2
Posts: 181
Joined: Feb 2009

Beth, you are being wished all the luck in the world, but even better than that you are in our prayers. We will all be praying for you. God works many miracles and He will take care of you. He knows the plans He has for you and He will be with you every step of the way . God Bless You . Carletta

dorookie's picture
dorookie
Posts: 1684
Joined: Jul 2007

But I am wishing for a miracle here, I so desparately want this to be over, after two rounds of chemo I have had enough. I know many others have suffered so much more and my heart and prayers go out to them. So I guess I am being a bit selfish in wishing and hoping that the cancer is gone from my body for good. The doctor didnt call with the results, and usually that is a good thing, but last time he didnt call and I thought i was in the clear, but he waited to tell me because he knew I had an upcoming appointment with him in a few days. So the saying no news if good news isnt all that true in my case. So that is why I am very nervous, like I said I just pray for peace to accept what ever it is to be. Thanks to all of you for your prayers, please know that everyone here on this board I pray for each of you every night and will always continue to do so.

God Bless
Beth

sheri22
Posts: 278
Joined: Jan 2009

Good luck on Pet scan results tommorrow you know we are all praying for you,
just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you too hopefully youll get good news tommorrow and tommorrow nite will be celebrating

Sheri22

dorookie's picture
dorookie
Posts: 1684
Joined: Jul 2007

and if the results are good I will be doing the naked dance all night long.. not a pretty picture but hey I dont care, I will be doing it !!! LOL

Thanks for your prayers they mean so much to me and my family...and my new grandbaby that is on the way... I cant wait to meet her and yes I said her, because I want a granddaughter everone else wants a boy...

Again thank you and I will be letting everyone know the results tomorrow after noon.

Thanks
God Bless
Beth

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3663
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi, Everyone,
Beth, I wish you well on your PET scan results. I definitely know firsthand how hard and awful that waiting is! I will have a scan myself in about another 3-1/2 weeks & am wondering if I'll have results that are better or are the same. My last CT scan the day before Thanksgiving, I had been on chemo for almost 3 months and my lung mets showed that they were "stable". That wasn't good enough for me- so I pray and hope after 3/1-2 more months of chemo (by the time of my scan mid March)that it will all be gone this time!!

I have something else going on too. I have to get an EKG tomorrow morning. After having had to give myself neupogen shots 3 days in a row this past Wed-Fri, I had some symptoms Fri and Sat that I was just told today by my onology nurse (because I just told her about them today), that they weren't "normal" side effects or symptoms of neupogen. I had read about people having bone pain & also read that sometimes the pain can concentrate in the sternum. Well, with this in mind, I just assumed that my pains were related to the neupogen. About 30 min. after giving myself the 3rd shot on Friday, I got a gripping pain in my sternum that radiated around to my spine and down to my hips. It lasted about a minute & I had it 5 or 6 times over Fri-Sat. I haven't had it happen since Saturday, but my oncology nurse talked to the Dr. and said they'd all feel better if I got it checked out just in case.
Great- this is all I need! Hopefully, it's nothing.
I did check my blood pressure (I have a blood pressure machine) and it was a bit high, so I popped another Atenolol (which I take 50 mg./day already) and an aspirin in case anything is actually going on w/ my heart or arteries.

It's always something when you have this beast, isn't it??

Hope you do well!

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

I'll be praying with you until you get your results. Hopefully it will be nothing. I swear, this beast just has a way of getting into all aspects of our life ... hopefully your heart hasn't been compromised and you will also get good results from your scan.
mary

Kathleen808's picture
Kathleen808
Posts: 2306
Joined: Jan 2009

Hi Lisa,
I am sorry to hear about the pain you were in over the weekend. I'm glad they are checking things out. I pray that it is something that will just pass. I will keep you in my prayers for your scan too.
Kathleen
(I read that you are a teacher.... I was thinking you look like a teacher... I am a teacher too.)

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3663
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi Kathleen,

How funny that I "look" like a teacher! (I've been thinking the many last times I've seen my picture that it's a bad one and I need a different picture- just haven't gotten anything more recent, though).

Anyhow, I've been teaching since 1989. I taught 6th for 2 yrs, then moved south an hour when I got married in 91. Couldn't find a full time teaching position for 2 yrs, so I subbed in K-8. Then, got a job teaching 4th gr, which I did for 3 yrs until taking off to have a baby. Since going back after that, I taught 1st gr. for 6 yrs & then moved up to 5th grade for the last 5 yrs. I literally was diagnosed w/ cancer 2 weeks before the new school year began in Aug 2007. I had my classroom pretty much ready to go, but then my principal and I had to scramble to find a sub for me. At that time, I thought I'd only be out about 4 months- that was before I knew it had spread to liver and lungs. Needless to say, I haven't been back. It was a sad day for me when I went back the last week of school that year to clean out my classroom and bring everything home. I don't know when, if ever, I'll go back again. I know someone who lives near me who has stage III rectal cancer and just finished chemo & just went back full time. So, I know some people do work/teach while dealing with this. I don't know if that will ever be me, though. I was off my chemo the first time just 4 months before having to start it all back up again. I'm on STRS disability through my teacher's retirement fund right now (basically getting my retirement early). I don't know yet how that would work if I were to go back. I'm told I'd qualify for my retirement benefits again if I went back and could put in 3 full time years. My worry is what if I went off the disability, then had a recurrence again before the 3 yrs- would I then be qualified to get nothing? I don't qualify for state disability, as we don't put into the system. Right now, on the STRS disability, I'm getting 80% of my salary (50% for me & an additional 10% for each of my 3 kids). I've had many people suggest teaching half-time (job-sharing a class), but then I'd be working plus getting a lot less money than I am currently! I don't feel guilty about that, though, because it's legit & because it's my own retirement account!

Lots of rambling here, sorry- I just thought you'd be able to relate as a teacher.
Do you teach in the public school system? Obviously, you're not teaching right now, since I know you're here in L.A. and live in Hawaii. What have you taught?

Blessings to you and your husband!
Lisa

kimby's picture
kimby
Posts: 804
Joined: Oct 2007

Well, I'm one of THOSE. I'm chemo resistant, meaning that my canzer spread while on chemo. First on folfox, then on folfori w/erbitux. We are now trying mitomycin, xeloda and avastin. I am very hopeful that this will work, but I'd say 'cautiously optomistic' is more accurate. If you look at the list of fda approved drugs for this disease, well, I'm out of options here.

I'm in trials, too and having radiation to my inoperable liver. We are quitting yet. Now that my celiac lymph nodes are involved I have fewer options. Just need a good chemo (*good* chemo? LOL) cocktail to get the job done!

Kimby

Shayenne's picture
Shayenne
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

I wonder if something didn't work the first time around, like Folfox, what if a second go did the trick? just to keep on the beast anyway! have you gotten other opinions on your liver if it's inoperable or not? they never mentioned if my liver was or not, that scares me.

You are so in my prayers all the time kimby, I hope this round does do the trick, and they do find something to get this cancer already for you!

Hugss!
~Donna

kimby's picture
kimby
Posts: 804
Joined: Oct 2007

It isn't that folfox and folfori didn't shrink the tumors (which they didn't), it's that my canzer spread during chemo. There are no 2nd chances really. Once a chemo cocktail fails you don't go back to it.

I have gotten several opinions on my liver mets and actually convinced my surgeon that I was a good candidate for a 2 stage, very complicated resection. It was he who found the celiac lymph node mets. No, with that involvement my liver isn't resectable. I need a systemic chemo to work before anyone will resect.

Folfori is very, very effective for most everyone. You are in good hands and should expect a good prognosis! I am just exceptional! LOL

Kimby

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

that sucks! And the worst of it is just what you said "If you look at the list of fda approved drugs for this disease, well, I'm out of options here". That's what sucks so much about this particular kind of cancer and what's so hard to get people to understand! It's so hard to treat that the drugs that DO work are so toxic, and then the choices are so limited! That's why it's so important to participate in trials when available; to help those that come after us! I pray that if my children have to deal with this down the road that what they have to fight this beast is so much better than what we experience! I continue to pray for you! I was wondering why you were getting mytomycin... I remember that is what was going to be infused during HIPEC if I had gotten it done back in 2006, and I remember saying it was an older chemotherapy drug. I actually haven't asked Dr. Levine what chemical will be used when I go in for the IPHC in May (same procedure, they're using a different name now), but figure it's probably going to be the mytomycin. I will find out before I head in. How do you fare with it?
mary

dixchi's picture
dixchi
Posts: 438
Joined: Jun 2008

....all of you are true courageous survivors of this shaggy monster.....
i admire all of you for your determination to win.....you are an
inspiration to me and give me the motivation to keep on going....
each time you tell us something about your journey you are passing
on your courage to the rest of us. God bless you.

Hugs,
Barbara

kimby's picture
kimby
Posts: 804
Joined: Oct 2007

Hi Mary,

Sorry to hear you need another procedure (ick!) but I'm so grateful that it's there for you. Amazing what we strive for and are happy about in canzerWorld! Mitomycin is an old drug. It's been around a long time and I don't think it's used much anymore but since the newer, "bigger & better" drugs haven't worked for me we decided to give it a try. I believe it was most often used for rectal/anal canzer, not so much for colon.

Due to the possiblility of it stripping the bone marrow I only get the mitomycin infusion every 6wks, avastin every 3wks and xeloda 14days on - 7days off. That being said, I have only had one mitomycin infusion so far. I didn't really have any side effects from mitomycin but with premeds, who knows? The avastin only infusion and xeloda have given some side effects but nothing really from the mitomycin. Now let's see if it works!

Good Luck and keep us informed!

Kimby

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1288
Joined: Nov 2001

Last year I happened to have a job to do near my old oncology unit. I dropped in to see my oncologist and friend John. During the conversation I asked him what he thought the long term results of my chemo were. His reply was "it saved your life, I don't believe it has long term side effects". I said what about all the health issues I've had since. He suggested that's life ,you were probably destined to get them anyway. He has always been a straight shooter and I feel he truly believes what he says. Right from the start he made no promises about chemo. He said it will either work or I'll have mets from the soles of my feet to the roots of my hair. Fortunately for me , it worked. Cheers ron.

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