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First chemo was so hard -does it get easier?

JoAnn4818's picture
JoAnn4818
Posts: 83
Joined: Jan 2011

I had my first chemo a little over a week ago and I still don't feel 100% right. I'm having TAC and started with the A/C followed by a Neulasta shot the following day. I had alot of pain, fatigue and indigestion. It was hard to eat or drink.

I've got my next treatment on Thursday - I'm having them every other week. Is the second chemo easier than the first? I know I have to get through them but its going to be hard.

Thanks for any support or advice you can give me.

JoAnn

Rague
Posts: 3343
Joined: Aug 2009

I'm sorry that A/C's bad for you - it wasn't for me. I lost hair (foregone conclusion), eyes/nose ran continually, tired but not exhausted 2 days out of 2 weeks - no nausea or pain. Neulasta only put me to sleep 2 hours after shot for 2 hours - again no pain. Taxol was another story, complete exhaustion (no nausea or pain)- and it did get worse as the 12 weekly went along.

I lost all sense of taste and appetite (lost 45 lbs during Chemo, Surgery, Chemo and Rads. Hubby called me several times a day to remind me to eat 'something'. Drinking is a big thing but it was never a problem for me - I always have a glass of ice water or herb tea handy so I think that it was just my years upon years of habit that kept me drinking.

You can do it!

Susan

survivorbc09
Posts: 4378
Joined: Jun 2009

I didn't have chemo, so, I can't give you advice, but, I want to wish you good luck and I pray it will get better for you.

Hugs, Jan

CypressCynthia's picture
CypressCynthia
Posts: 4015
Joined: Oct 2009

I was really ill after my first chemo. I picked the brain of my infusion nurse and she had great ideas. I then asked my doc to prescribe what she suggested and I followed her suggestions to the letter. It worked! I felt well enough to work throughout my chemo. My advice is simple--talk with your infusion nurse or oncologist and see if they can help manage your symptoms.

Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects

pinkflutterby's picture
pinkflutterby
Posts: 615
Joined: Jun 2009

total exhaustion was me!! slept for hours when I was on my first cocktails. They said drinking water helps, I guess it did but only made me pee more which was annoying since they pump so much fluid in you while getting the chemo, so I was tired and peeing like a horse!! I would be too tired to eat. Got my little girl off to school then practically slept all day long! Had to start setting an alarm to get up on time for her to be home.

Couldnt drink out of cans or use metal forks, spoons bought plastic silverware and straws. Nothing tastes like it used to, still doesnt.

My current treatment the day after I sleep for about 13-16 hours and the chemo pills (xeloda) I am now on just make me drag like I'm hung over or something.

Then I take a steriod for swelling in my head so I am exhausted wanting to sleep so bad but the steriod keeps me up!! Double edge knife..... but hey we are here to gripe right!!!

xoxo

Boppy_of_5's picture
Boppy_of_5
Posts: 1140
Joined: Apr 2010

I had the TC and did fairly well. My first treatment was the hardest though. It took me a week or a little more to feel somewhat like myself. I felt sorta foggy feeling, it did get better with the rest of the treatments. The nurses in the infusion room are great to help you out. I hope the rest of your treatments are easier. Prayers and God Bless
(((Hugs))) Janice

Karene
Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2011

I second that idea. I too relied on my nurses.

jessiesmom1's picture
jessiesmom1
Posts: 717
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi JoAnn,

I had a complete axillary dissection followed by a right mastectomy a month before my 52nd birthday. I am triple negative. I had a medi-port implanted, also. After that I had 4 rounds of A/C and then 12 rounds of Taxotere. After each A/C round I had 5 Neupogen shots. My insurance company wouldn't pay for the single Neulasta shot. My last chemo was on August 4th.

After each chemo infusion I would go home and take a 2 hour nap. Part of that was probably due to stress and part was due to the Benadryl that was also infused. The 1st couple of days after the A/C infusion were low days. By the time the next infusion rolled around I was feeling pretty good. My hair started falling out on Day 14. The level of fatigue increased with each infusion. The effects are cumulative. I also became mildly anemic.I had no real pain and no indigestion. I did not get any mouth sores either. The nurses in the infusion center suggested that during the Adriamycin part of the infusion I should have ice chips. Instead my husband would prepare a fruit smoothie (like Jamba Juice) which I would take with me and drink while the Adriamycin was being infused. My oncologist was pleased at how well I seemed to be doing. He said if I did that well with the A/C I could expect to do even better with the Taxotere as it is generally tolerated better.

Well, was he ever wrong! I had diarrhea and vomiting to such an extent that I became dehydrated. I had to be given IV fluids several times. One time my chemo was postponed because I had to be given fluids instead of Taxotere on chemo day. I came back 2 days later and had the delayed infusion. My eyes watered like a faucet (and continue to do so). My desire to eat disappeared and my taste buds were altered significantly. Creamy things were intolerable and many items when chewed just tasted like paste. I lost 45 pounds. There is something to be said for being overweight to start with. I have gained back some of the lost weight. I lost 8 fingernails and 2 toenails.

It has been 6 months since my last infusion. My hair is growing back nicely. My fingernails and toenails are almost back to their pre-chemo condition.I still have watery eyes. My appetite has returned. My energy level is not normal but I would say it is up to 75% of normal. Having my 18 year old daughter and 20 year old son home from college for 3 weeks forced me to go to the mall several times and that was quite a workout. I am taking a class at the Y called Living Strong Living Well which is specifically for cancer patients/survivors. I even bought spandex workout pants - not a pretty sight! See, it does get better.

I had more than one day where I thought I could not go on. My husband was very supportive. I was lucky. I know not everybody has that. I was determined to get through the treatment and get better. My goal during chemo was initially to be able to help my daughter move into her college dorm room (3 hour drive from home)as she was going to be a freshman. Almost keeled over when I saw that she was on the 2nd floor of a 2 story dorm without an elevator. I sucked it up and did those 2 flights of stairs. 6 weeks later I attended Parents Weekend and climbed the stairs in the football stadium. It was not easy but I was SO proud of myself. If I can do it, almost anyone else can do it, too. I was not exactly a prime physical specimen prior to surgery and chemo.

Please let us know how things go for you. We have all been there.

JoAnn4818's picture
JoAnn4818
Posts: 83
Joined: Jan 2011

Jessiesmom - I'm a 53 year old with triple negative breast cancer and I have a great husband, an 18 year old and a 22 year old. I've had a left mastectomy and I've just got to get through this chemo! Thanks for helping me!

JoAnn

Angie2U's picture
Angie2U
Posts: 2993
Joined: Sep 2009

Hoping chemo will go easily and quickly for you!

Hugs, Angie

Angie2U's picture
Angie2U
Posts: 2993
Joined: Sep 2009

.

grandmasueb
Posts: 49
Joined: Feb 2010

I am so sorry Jo Ann. I also had TAC ac was first it was really bad for me the first round,I had indigestion,I took prilosec I was constapated so bad,I took gernic mirlax which I still take after 5 months out of treatment.I also took the Neulasta shot,then I was in bed for the next few days. I started feeling better the day before my next treatment. It does get better just keep yourself hydrated is the key. I wish you well and keep fighting because it does get better.

aysemari's picture
aysemari
Posts: 1590
Joined: Dec 2009

Like Rague said we all react differently.

My first 2 I was just really, really tired and sluggish, some diarrhea
and vomiting but not that bad.

In my case the chemo had cumulative effect with my next chemo,
I had bad diarrhea and vomiting for days and felt horrible, went to
my oncologist and I was so dehydrated they gave me IV. It was
amazing how good I felt afterwards. SO HYDRATE, hydrate, hydrate.
Drink a lot the day before and the morning before chemo.

After my main chemo was over, I experienced a lot of joint pain.
Every time I walked my anles and knees would swell and I had to
rest a couple days. It drove me nuts!

But... Just know YOU can do this. For every side effect your doctor
can offer you something to lessen it.

Hugs,
Ayse

JoAnn4818's picture
JoAnn4818
Posts: 83
Joined: Jan 2011

Thank you so much for your posts. I appreciate you sharing your experiences with me. I saw that everybody had different responses - some really bad - but NONE of you gave up! I will remember to work with the oncology staff and get through this somehow.

JoAnn

VickiSam's picture
VickiSam
Posts: 8342
Joined: Aug 2009

ended up in emergency room 3 times ... 18 consective weeks of dense chemo TCH, and 1 year of herceptin ... my symptoms were off 'the bell standard charts' according to my Onc. I ended up with chronic fatigue -- which I am still fighting thru. My fingernails, eye brows and lashes are not back to their 'pre' chemo state.

Working hard daily on getting back to normal, whatever that may now be.

Please feel free to send me a private message if you have any questions. Plain and simple, chemo just about killed me.. fainting, hospitalizations etc..

Strength and Courage,

Vicki Sam

sweetvickid's picture
sweetvickid
Posts: 447
Joined: Nov 2009

For nausea and indigestion. On Tac with Xeloda I had heartburn from hell! Couldn't believe heartburn could be so painful but the compazine made it go away.

jessiesmom1's picture
jessiesmom1
Posts: 717
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi JoAnn,

If my calendar is correct, you had your second chemo treatment yesterday (Thursday). I know you were apprehensive/anxious. How did it go? Please let us know when you can. Hope you are doing well but even if you are not we would like to hear from you.

JoAnn4818's picture
JoAnn4818
Posts: 83
Joined: Jan 2011

My second chemo is going a little better. They added drip Prilosec for the heartburn. I don't have bad nausea but the pain in my chest turned out to be really bad indigestion. We also realized that the steroids are triggering menopause symptoms and they gave me something to help with some of those. It's a very light dose of an anti anxiety/muscle relaxer med. I hadn't even started menopause before chemo and I didn't even expect that might happen. Of course I just got my Neulasta shot this afternoon - that one is going to hit me on Sunday!

I followed everybody's advice and really worked with the infusion center staff. I told them all my symptoms and they just kept working at making them better. Thanks so much for all the advice. I don't know how I would have done it without your support and tips.

JoAnn

DebbyM's picture
DebbyM
Posts: 3294
Joined: Oct 2009

Really happy that your 2nd chemo is better for you JoAnn. It sounds like you have a great team at your center that are and will continue to help you. Always let them know how you are feeling and if you have any complaints. That is why they are there, to make you as comfortable and to help you with any side effects.

Hugs, Debby

Bella Luna's picture
Bella Luna
Posts: 1575
Joined: Aug 2009

JoAnn... my first chemo treatment was the worst too. I had six treatments every three weeks and a year of Herceptin. I can relate to your situation. Your body probably feels like it's been run over by a mack truck from all the drugs and Neulasta shot. Fatigue is to be expected. I would suggest that you drink PLENTY of water so that you can flush out your system. You will feel better after a while, but then it will be time for you to go back to the clinic for another treatment.

Listen to your body. If it feels tired, go rest. If it's any consolation, this situation is temporary. You got through your first chemo, you have one less to think about. Think of the goal-RECOVERY! If others offer to help, let them do for you. Be good to yourself and pamper yourself, you more than deserve it.

I wish you luck on your road to recovery. God bless.
BL

Bella Luna's picture
Bella Luna
Posts: 1575
Joined: Aug 2009

Trigger finger got the better of me.
BL

Katz77
Posts: 598
Joined: Sep 2009

Chemo is hard on our bodies no doubt. I had the same cocktail as you. Adrimycin I took it hard. Called it my cranberry juice. Plenty of fluids before very important. Chemo as a whole is dehydrating. My first couple hits weren't to bad. I was like you, didnt feel like eating or drinking. I sipped gatorade continously. Potassium and saline helps with the dehydration. The neulasta shot is what knocked me out. Took advil before I went for that. Helped some.
I pray it gets better for you. Fight like a girl and hang in there. Hugs,Katz

Clementine_P's picture
Clementine_P
Posts: 383
Joined: Feb 2011

Hi JoAnn, I too had AC first and then T. My oncologist told me that the first one is usually harder than the second b/c your body sort of "gives in". I found that to be true with me. I see that you didn't have as much as a problem with the second either. Definitely tell your doctor everything. They have a solution (or at least something to make it somewhat better) for pretty much every symptom. I hope that you are feeling good this week. Good luck with the rest of your treatment.

Best,
Clementine

Reikigemgirl's picture
Reikigemgirl
Posts: 278
Joined: Jul 2009

for the pain that comes with the Neulasta shot. Someone on this board told me about it when I was going through my A/C cocktail and Neulasta. You take a claritin the day before the shot and then for 6 days afterwards and I never had one pain from the shot. Just regular claritin, not claritin D.

Hope this helps you like it did me!!!
Vicki

PinkPearl's picture
PinkPearl
Posts: 280
Joined: Oct 2010

I am not doing the same chemo as you are but so many tips have helped me through my first one too. Keep smiling on!!! I always try to remember that the chemo is actually there to help me not to hurt me in the end.

lori1961's picture
lori1961
Posts: 56
Joined: Oct 2010

My first chemo with TAC was not bad, a little nausea day 4 and 5 but tired. The Neulasta shot they game me the next day was bad, body aches for days but they say that is good cause it is working. My onco said take extra strength tylenol or something stronger if you need it. When the med wore off, a hot bath helped alot. I just had treatment 3 yesterday and my doc had to adjust my nausea meds cause the compazine just wasn't cutting it. He told me to take my prednisone all week and gave me some zofran take it every 8 hours wheter I needed it or not. Then he gave me some ativan for sleep and anxiety which I can get quite anxious at times. Hope this helps and hang in there...

the daughter's picture
the daughter
Posts: 33
Joined: Jan 2011

I hope you are doing better! My mom starts her first chemo this Firday and she is very nervous about it. She will have weekly doses for 12 weeks- we are praying for pain free.... we have a lot of faith- but we will keep you posted. I am glad to see you got through your first one.

All the best,

Jess

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