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Smell of Radiation or Chemo???

dennis318's picture
dennis318
Posts: 349
Joined: Feb 2010

11 Months out of radition and Chemo, Still smell chemical of metal or Medical Office, Am I dreaming or is this still aftermath of rads etc....it's not stinky, thank god, but a wierd medicine smell...Any input thanks. Dennis

scottied's picture
scottied
Posts: 37
Joined: Nov 2010

I know the smell your speaking of but i didnt have that problem. It may just be psychological. Even though I eat perfectly fine know, when i go back to Johns Hopkins for check ups its hard for me to eat there and i think its just the thought of how bad i felt going through treatment. The mind is a powerful thing!!!

rmkbrad
Posts: 177
Joined: Dec 2009

During my last treatment I used a liquid body soap, after my treatment I cannot stand the smell of it. It remindes me of bad times.

rozaroo
Posts: 667
Joined: Apr 2010

I noticed a wierd scent right after chemo treatment. I would take shower's at all hours of the day or night. Drove me crazy.Couldn't mask it with perfume as the scent of that made me ill.

D Lewis's picture
D Lewis
Posts: 1533
Joined: Jan 2010

Dennis,

I noticed the smell during and shortly after each of the Chemo treatments. It seemed to subide within a week or so of each treatment. Six months out, I don't notice anything. Didn't notice much associated with the radiation.

However, as others have also indicated, I cannot stand the smell of any of the lotions, shampoos or other products that I used when I was sick. I had to give away to Goodwill the clothing I wore during my treatments. I wore the same comfy workout pants and sweatshirt for just about every treatment. I simply can't imagine even putting the articles of clothing on, ever again.

Deb

Chudley
Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2010

Dennis, I'm 5 yrs out of tx and once in a while I'll catch a hint of that smell and it'll still get to me. At least it's not often so I'm happy. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving, in one way or the other, huh?

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5843
Joined: Apr 2009

Hi dennis, sorry to hear you are still smelling that crap, you might want to try using something like NeilMed Sinus Rinse two or three times a day and see if it helps. There is a lot of old dead scar tissue left in your body from the rads, all I know to do is to try and rinse it out.

Take care my friend

Hal61's picture
Hal61
Posts: 656
Joined: Dec 2009

Hi Dennis, could be in your head or still simmering in your whipped cells and engaging your brain. When I was six years old I woke up in the middle of a surgery for a moment--had to have an eye removed as the result of a game of cowboys and indians gone wrong. Ether was the anesthetic of choice in those days, pretty heady stuff. For about five years, anytime I saw a color that came close to surgical green, I smelled that ether, clear and sharp as a skunk. As people say, since it's persistent and not triggered, try to mask it for now as it should go away before long.

Hal

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

I believe I read somewhere that the strongest sense that is tied with memory is smell. This can be both good and bad. I know the smell of that damn canned nutrition makes me gag. I cannot stand it. When I was so bad and I could not keep anything I put in my peg tube down and I went down 40 lbs I tried to trick my brain. I would put my favorite smells under my nose to drown out that nutrin. I would put almond extract out so I could smell it. One day after radiation I was walking down the hall with patty and I kept sniffing she was like 'what is your problem??'. I kept asking her if she could smell that smell. She asked what smell. I said that it smelled like something was burning. She didn't smell anything. Then I realized it was me. I was smelling me cooking. :(

hard to say what it is Dennis. If it really bothers you, try putting a tiny bit of a calming scent under your nose. Like lavender vanilla.

ekdennie's picture
ekdennie
Posts: 231
Joined: Aug 2010

I noticed a weird smell during radiation. I am only just under 3 weeks post graduation, but I did notice that with a neil med rinse the smell goes away. but when i am near anything that smells metallic it reminds me of the treatments. hard smell to get rid of!

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8096
Joined: Sep 2009

That is believed to be caused by the ozone produced by the linear accelerator. I got used to the timing and sounds of the machine and just didn't breathe for those few seconds that I knew the odor always seemed to occur.

I also asked the techs and told them of the ozone smell, but they didn't really understand I feel. They did say that other patients would occasionally speak of the odor.

I'm familiar with that Ozone smell from where I work. They actually have some Qzone generators.

Smell during chemo and especially the week of wearing the 5FU pump. I would emit an odor, that was nasty. I swore it smelled like cat spray odor, musky smelling...

My wife would smell it really bad when I would soak in the tub. She said I smelled like a big old medicine bag, LOL....

JG

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1274
Joined: Dec 2012

I get some smell off the 5Fu too, but it is slight and just a waft of sweet. It is gone within a day of the takedown. I keep thinking the cat is sniffing thinking he is licking a candy bar. LOL 

KazeyB
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2013

It's NOT in your head, my friend. It surprises me how many people assume that just because they didn't experience it for themselves, that it must be “in your head.” If there's anything we've all learned from cancer and treatment, it's that everyone is different. In our case, my partner still smells like chemo FOUR years after treatment. It's a weird, bitter-chemical-metallic smell. It seems to get 'triggered' now and again, though we haven't yet figured out what does it. It’s pretty random. It comes and goes – it isn’t constant. Sometimes she'll tell me she can taste chemo, as well. Usually when she tells me that, I've already smelled it on her, or vice-versa. I.e., I'll tell her I smell it and she'll say she tasted it earlier. She's pretty much a health nut, too. So it's not like she hasn't been doing anything to detox. On the contrary, she’s done EVERYTHING to detox since recovering from chemo and double mastectomy. She gets PLENTY of exercise - she runs (up to 9 miles a day), does yoga, mountain bikes, etc. - has gone vegetarian (lacto ovum peskatarian - i.e. still eats dairy and seafood), drinks green and herbal teas, drinks PLENTY of water (~80oz a day) gets all her vitamins, minerals and macro nutrients from her diet, mostly, and some supplements, and she doesn't drink or smoke (never did the latter). She also rinses her sinuses regularly with saline and a netty pot. So ... for 4 years she's done all the liver/kidney cleansing-friendly remedies out there and the chemo smell still persists. Maybe it's still in her fat cells - like D-lysergic acid would be - and when those fat cells burn, she has a chemo “flashback” as those toxins are released - but that's just a guess. We’ve yet to find the ultimate remedy. If you succeed, please send me a private message. It doesn’t smell “bad” per se, just weird. I’m okay with it, but it really bothers her.

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1274
Joined: Dec 2012

could be her diet and all the supplements alters her body chemistry and the excess is expelled through her pores. My nutritionis said the body rids most of the excess via urine but some might exit via the skin.

Billie67's picture
Billie67
Posts: 834
Joined: Jul 2012

I kept telling my husband all thru rads that I smelled terrible. He must have no sense of smell because he claims to have not noticed it. My youngest son could smell it on me too. Even my litle dog who normally, even right now is right up on my lap wouldn't get near me. I think I smelled bad to him too.
Every once in a while when I am drying off from the shower I smell it again. It's just a brief hint of it and then it's gone again but I don't like it at all.

I know someone else mentioned this earlier but,smells of products like lotions, soaps or even dish soap that were used during treatment make me ill if I smell them now. My husband bought this dish soap while I was going thru treatment and the smell was horrible then but now....yuck it's even worse. I went thru the house shortly after treatment and threw away tons of "cancer smelling" items. smell association can be really good and cool but it can also be very disturbing.
Billie

Bill_Bill
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2013

Believe me it stinks...  Even my clothes smell.

I had a tee shirt on for a few hours and the smell was noticeable.

Urine and defecate will also have a strong odor.

I’m sure it varies with whatever chemical cocktail is given, but I know mine is causing me to be quite odorous! 

Milenka
Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2013

Hello Billie, 

Im adressing you because I needed to talk to someone who left the most recent post. My mom had adenocarcinoma surgery in November, and in January she started with radiotherapy that ended on 28th February. She barely can eat now, and she really lost the weight. She feels weak and has fatigue and nausea. Do you have any suggestions about this, and any ideas for how long this might last until she acctually starts to recover? Thanks a lot and all the best.

Milenka

PS Sorry about my English, not the native speaker

Billie67's picture
Billie67
Posts: 834
Joined: Jul 2012

I'm sorry your mom is continuing to lose weight, I did too when treatment was over. Does she have a PEG(feeding tube)? I did but my nausea was so bad that even the tube feedings were tough to do. Since treatment was over I sort of stopped taking my anti nausea meds. Once I realized thAt and started taking them again things go better. Make sure your mom is taking her meds and I promise you it does get better. Not over night but it does get better.
Billie

Milenka
Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2013

She has feeding tube, but she is able to swallow. Feeding tube in a way irritated her stomach, because she use it right after the surgery. The problem is hypersalivation and nausea. I'm not completly sure that she's using her antinausea meds. And when I see her, how weak she is, it breaks my heart.  Thank you a lot Bille for this answer, it means a world to me.

Best,

Milenka

yensid683
Posts: 236
Joined: Apr 2012

8 months post rads and I get the same reactions to smells that I associate with the hospital and PEG feedings.

I had a scan at the hospital this past Tuesday and after using the restroom, I used their soap and rememberd that I forgot mine!  It is not an unpleasant scent, but it reminds me so much of the incredible nausea that I can't stand it at all.  I had the smell on my hands all day despite washing with several other hand soaps.  Ugh.

Jevity, my PEG nutrition, also is revolting, hell, even some baby formulas that have a similar aroma are pure hell.

It is true, the chemo/rad/cooking smell does persist.  My first day back to work and I hugged my wife good bye and she remarked "you don't smell sick anymore". 

Now if I could just get those scent memories to fade away.....

NJShore's picture
NJShore
Posts: 411
Joined: Nov 2012

I just asked Dan if he smelled chemo/rads, he said that when he coughs, it's warm, like you could touch it warm, not normal. He said it's like heat that follows the air out of his lungs that lets go and follows up his airway and feels tangible. He also said at times, his teeth radiate smell, that he tastes the radiation.

Jeesh, I had no idea.. Sorry to hear. I wonder if since the chemo is actually a metal, and I am not sure, but I didn't think you could rid the body of metals. That the platinum in the chemo stays with you. Could be wrong.. I am going to go look it up!

Kari

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8096
Joined: Sep 2009

Not all chemos are metal based Kari...

True Cisplatin and Carboplatin are Platinum based, but others like Taxotere for instance is actually derived from the Yew Tree Bark, and 5FU is a reaction between flouracil and urine...

And actually, I'm pretty sure the body does rid the chemo (cisplatin) fairly fast, within days...

Here's a pretty good read on Cisplatin;

Cisplatin

John

NJShore's picture
NJShore
Posts: 411
Joined: Nov 2012

John,

Thanks, I love to learn, and tonight I learned something new.. and I remember someone saying something about a tree in the north west during Dan's treatment and taxol. So not all chemos are metal based.

I just read that it can take up to 180 days for cisplatin and carboplatin to leave the body.. 6 months is a long time and might explain why the side effects take so long to wane away. Going for more research before I am convinced. Keep you posted. The good news is, it works... and it does leave, just not quickly, and normally a little platinum is good as it would work to keep cancers from growing too.

Kari

ps - at least it's not thyroid research :)

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8096
Joined: Sep 2009

I was having a hard time finding anything on the time frame to get rid of it...post the link if you can find it again please...

I do like this paragraph in the link that I posted;

The point, of course, is that cisplatin also fights cancer, and while partial deafness and nausea are not nice, they don't kill you like cancer does. Moreover, medical research has some excellent ways of minimising side effects and maximising the effectiveness of small doses of the drug.

Thanks
~ JG

ausrebel53's picture
ausrebel53
Posts: 74
Joined: Dec 2012

Great post, thanx John I will be starting Cisplatin soon and found the article very informative

Michael

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8096
Joined: Sep 2009

I had Cisplatin among a few other chemo types, and while some had a few problems with it, myself and many haven't. So unfortunateoy it's like everything else and you just won't know until the time comes.

I never really thought one way or another when I was getting chemo and treatment in general, other than the fact it was killing the cancer and it's what I had to do.

JG

Jennfer39's picture
Jennfer39
Posts: 22
Joined: Nov 2011

Rubbing alcohol takes me right back to the flushing of my port every day for chemo or for hydration.

The smell of baby soap/shampoo takes me back to my basic shower necessities during  treatment...can't stand it!

As far as other senses, the SOUND of the "SWEETJACK.COM" radio commercials take me right back to my 8 hr days for radiation and chemo.... that dog barking is annoying.  :)

 

I guess they are souvenirs on our trip through HNC....but there are some I would gladly leave behind, though. 

 

 

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