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Husband's Reaction to 2nd Round of Chemo

coachwife
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2010

Hi everyone - my husband was diagnosed in June with Stage 2 and received the standard treatment of 5-FU infusion + Mytomicyn for 1st and last week and 30 radiation sessions. He completed the 2nd round of chemo 5 weeks ago. He began to feel much better over the last couple of weeks and attempted to go back to work (elementary PE teacher and coach). He's been taking it pretty easy at school, but within the last two days has gone downhill. He is very dizzy and lightheaded, some nausea and on-going diarrhea (which has existed all along). His color is not good either, very pasty. He had his labs done this week, and there were several abnormal low's and highs. I'm just curious if trying to go back in that timeframe was too soon, and if our expectations are too high as to how much he should take on at this point. The doctors just say that he should do as much as he feels like doing. I'm really interested in your thoughts. THanks so much!

z's picture
z
Posts: 1251
Joined: May 2009

Hello, Welcome sorry you have to be here. I returned to work 3 weeks after tx ended. My counts were low also, but gradually rose and I healed. Since your husband has the diarrhea, that could be the cause of the light headed feeling, as he must replace the electrolytes that he is loosing. The dr should suggest medicine for this. I just went at a slow pace and didn't over do it. I wish you both well. Lori

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2852
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm sorry to hear of your husband's circumstances, but I hope other than the side effects he is still dealing with, he is doing okay. You mentioned that his blood counts were still abnormal--having anemia (low red blood count) can cause dizziness and lightheadedness, along with fatigue. If he is only 5 weeks post-treatment, it is still early in the post-treatment phase. It's different for everyone, but recovery can take awhile. I'm sure his job is demanding and perhaps it's a bit soon yet for him to have returned, at least full-time. It may take awhile for the fatigue to ease and also for the blood counts to return to normal. I am over 2 years out of treatment and my blood counts are still a little abnormal most of the time. The best advice I can give is for him to listen to his body and if it seems to be telling him he is doing too much, too soon, then he probably is. I wish him the very best and hope you'll keep us posted on how he's doing.

coachwife
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2010

Thanks for the feedback. I think just letting him know that the reactions are normal will give him peace of mind. I appreciate it!

alis7910
Posts: 80
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi:
I went back to work about six weeks after my last radiation treatment because I was restless at home and worried about my job. I was glad to get back to work, but the side effects from the radiation like diarrhea and painmade the commute stressful. I'm more than a year out and still have my challenges.
I don't think any doctor can tell your husband when is best to go back to work; I think he needs to listen to his own body and soul. You say his blood work etc. is abnormal. Sounds like he needs more time to heal. When we all go out in the world we need all our energy and resources.
Alison

JDuke's picture
JDuke
Posts: 443
Joined: Nov 2009

it will take as long as it takes. Tell your husband not to push himself. The toll that this treatment takes on our bodies is HUGE. Externally we can see the healing progress and for me it was rapid. Internally however, it is a much slower process and it can be hindered by expecting too much of yourself too soon.

Try to be patient and not expect too much too soon. Things WILL improve and he will find his new normal.

Blessings,
Joanne

coachwife
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2010

Thanks again for the comments. I am sharing all of your advice with my husband (who isn't quite as comfortable posting), and he really appreciate it too. He went for his post-treatment appointment with his surgeon two weeks ago. The doctor was very positive about his recovery and after examining him said that all he could see was some scar tissue where the tumor previousy was which was normal and good news. He indicated that we did not have to go back for 3 months. When I asked about an additional Pet Scan at this point, he said that unless there are indicators of problems (i.e. bleeding, pain, etc.) that wasn't protocol, in addition to the fact that "hot spots" could show up on the scan. My question is, has that been the experience of others? I just expected that we would have at least cat scans sooner than 3 months. My husband still has some discharge and itching but other than that, it's just extremely low energy levels as I mentioned before. I appreciate any thoughts or feedback! Thanks so much!

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2852
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi Coachwife--

I'm glad to hear that your husband is doing well and that his exam was normal. You asked about getting a scan as part of the follow-up. The current NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) guidelines recommend "evaluation 8-12 weeks post-treatment with exam and digital rectal exam." After that, "every 3-6 months for 5 years: digital rectal exam, anoscopy, inguinal node palpation. T3 or T4 or inguinal node positive, consider chest x-ray, pelvic CT annually for 3 years."

It is true that hot spots can show up on scans if they are done soon after treatment. My first post-treatment PET scan showed activity due to radiation still working.

You can view the above-mentioned guidelines on the NCCN website. Just register then go to the list of cancers and click on anal cancer.

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