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*Urgent* Chemo husband has severe cold virus-HELP

MichelleP's picture
MichelleP
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

My husband just had his first big round of chemo 3 days ago and now seems to be experiencing symptoms of a severe chest cold. I was told to cut back on vit c from his oncologist when we first began treatment so he is only taking 500 mg daily. So, when these symptoms of a cold started I gave him hot tea with honey and lemon to sip on. I don't know what else can be done. Can someone help me with this? Just how dangerous are viruses to chemo patients? I have made sure he is not exposed to anyone, my son and myself always wear a mask and disinfect everything. When I take him to doc appts he himself wears a mask to protect himself. I'm totally baffled as to how he could have picked up a germ like this. I've been up all night with him trying to help him feel better and would sure appreciate any comments please.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Michelle:

Colds and other diseases are clearly not good for folks going through chemotherapy. I can think of very few times (other than maybe during or right after surgery) when a person is more vulnerable. Chemotherapy typically has a seriously detrimental effect on the immune system, sometimes enough to force OncoMan to pause treatment while platelets and white blood cell counts revitalize.

Even so, while I cringed each time my wife, son, other family members and friends coughed or sneezed or whatever during my experiences with cancer, early on at least, I have never worn a mask (unless forced to for other reasons :)). Still, if that makes you all feel more comfortable, or if the docs recommend it, then by all means, go for it.

As for the cough itself, it is great that you are alarmed, to some degree, by it. I am hopeful that you have a family doctor? That is who I would go to first. It is a possibility that your husband has a lung infection and a nice little kicker like Keflex (anti-viral agent) might get rid of it. And if that is NOT the case, at least family doc can offer something that WILL work.

Again, best wishes, to hub and his family.

Take care,

Joe

MichelleP's picture
MichelleP
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

Thanks so much for your information. My husbands does seem to be a bit better. I searched info on his chemo and they said one of the side effects are cold symptoms even though it's not a cold. Figures huh? He still has a cough that really sounds like the croup (spelling?) Maybe your correct in thinking it could possibly be a lung infection. The oncologist takes blood weekly, I wonder if they can look for this. If not, I will certainly find out about it. I did purchase a humidifier a couple days ago and he says it's helping him a lot with the congestion and the hoarseness.

This is the toughest battle I have ever fought in my life and I feel that finding this site with such wonderful caring people like yourself soccerfreaks is a blessing! Thanks again and wish us luck, we have another round of chemo tomorrow.

Michelle

longingforhope's picture
longingforhope
Posts: 61
Joined: Apr 2009

Michelle,

Our Oncologist told us to go to the ER or Family Dr. for every little cough or sneeze because infections can be deadly when you have cancer. It can quickly turn into pneumonia or any number of things.

So drag him in if you have to and keep up the good work. It sounds like you are a wonderful Care Giver, he is blessed to have you.

LH

MichelleP's picture
MichelleP
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

I agree that the family doc should know what's happening and I did let him know about my husbands symptoms. He actually didn't seem to think much about it. He was more concerned with my husbands behavior (extremely agitated). But, since we have a chemo scheduled for today I was going to ask them to run additional blood tests to make sure he doesn't have some kind of lung infection. His cough is completely different than what he's had since we were diagnosed with the cancer. He sounds like the "croup" (spelling?) plus he seems to be struggling for oxygen more. I'll let you know what happens. And wish us luck on the side effects this week. At least I got nausea meds for this week!

MichelleP's picture
MichelleP
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

I took my husband for chemo today and asked that they run blood tests to see if he has a lung infection and they said as long as the white cell count is okay then there shouldn't be a problem? Don't quite understand this. Even though he couldn't get the chemo cuz his hemogloban is at 8.0 and now they want to schedule a blood transfusion. I hate the delay cuz I'm scared of the cancer spreading further than it already has.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Please remember that I am NOT a doctor, and that those people you are paying the big bucks to ARE doctors.

What they are saying about the white blood cell count, I suppose, is that if your hub had a lung infection, the white blood cells would be a telling indicator of that, and since they are in normal range, a lung infection is unlikely.

Since he is already in chemotherapy and all involved are aware that cancer exists, there is no need for another scan at this time (I am guessing), so I would suggest going with the flow, since the professionals seem to be united in their lack of concern. They all seem to be thinking that this is an effect of the chemo, it seems, and they know better than I do.

Re the delay, Michelle, I had chemo weekly myself for several months, and while I recognized their importance, I considered each postponement a minor holiday, and there were several, caused by things like low white blood cell counts and low platelets -- direct effects of the chemo, of course.

If it was one, I would simply sit out a week and wait for a natural replenishment; if it were the other, I would get a neupogen shot and hope the count was back up when I came back the next week. It always was.

Having gone through the chemo routine twice now, I have decided that they know what they are doing, and that they are trying to balance the patient's health with the benefits of the chemo (which is, paradoxically, antithetical to good health except that it is killing cancer cells along with the other cells it is killing). If your husband gets into a danger zone re white cells or platelets or, in this case, hemoglobins, then it could happen that the old joke comes true (the one where the doctor says "The operation was a success but the patient died."). They don't want that and YOU don't want that.

So, again, Michelle, trust that they are doing their best to balance the needs of your husband's body against the effort to kill cancer. If missing a treatment serves to bolster his hemoglobin levels to acceptable levels, then that is what needs to happen, and, in my rather uneducated opinion, missing one treatment here or there will not have a dramatic impact on the end results, as long as treatment is picked back up at the next best time and continued, perhaps even extended to cover the missed episodes.

By the way, I think you will marvel at the renewed energy your husband has following the blood transfusion! It should pick up his spirits (and thus yours) and make him that much more prepared to keep on keeping on.

Patience, my friend. It's tough, but it's required.

Take care,

Joe

wahine425
Posts: 4
Joined: May 2009

I am a lung cancer survivor and have had many bouts with virus and flu symptoms. The worse was pneumonia, twice, but I started taking Una de gato, aka Cat's claw and I've not had another problem accept the common cold, since. It's been 15 months since the last time. My Oncologist said it wouldn't interfer with my treatment like vitamin C can, so check, just in case. I pray your husband get better and beats this nasty cancer.

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