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wife stage 3B Colon cancer

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Dear all,

I am new here and am glad i found this forum. my wife was dx colon 3b in January. she had her surgery on 28th jan and 15 cm of large intestine was removed. she had her first chemo on the 24th feb and she did ok with 5FU+ Oxiliplatin....she was supposed to have her 2nd chemo yesterday but it was postponed as the doctor said her WBC are low....i really dont know what does it mean? as the doctor said the WBC start falling after 3, 4 chemo but for her it is down even after the 1st?
is it common and has anyone experienced that???? i am really nervous as we just got married in december and she is dx with cancer in january.she is 26 now .it's a disaster for us.....i am also getting confused since her treatment is in china and all her reports are in chinese and i am translating it to english and then getting information about all this...

please help....

okthen's picture
okthen
Posts: 232
Joined: Jun 2010

Just wanted to say hi and I am sorry about your wifes health troubles. My husband did not have WBC issues with his chemo ever, only platelet issues, his treatments were postponed due to that several times.
It is hard when there is a reaction to chemo that doesn't fall in the "usual" time frame, makes me, us, worry even more. My husband is having horrible neuropathy after only 4 oxal (Folfox) treatmens...his Onc just said the other day he doesn't "usually" see that until 8 treatments...
Did her doctor talk with you about WBC boosting medication, like Neulasta?...I hope I am remembering that name right....

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks okthen for your reply, and sorry I dont know the name of the injection they gave to her but they did 1 injection everyday for 3 days and now she needs to wait another day since the doctor says her WBC are too high now!!!!! Unfortunately I am not with her now since my visa finished and the chinese authorities refused to extend my visa there, so now i m in my home country to extend my visa!!!!!

abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 1575
Joined: Mar 2010

I only got through 7 rounds of chemo; stopping oxali after the 6th because of the severity of my neuropathy.

Patteee's picture
Patteee
Posts: 950
Joined: Jul 2009

I was also dx'd 3B in May 08. I too had my second chemo postponed after 1 treatment due to low WBC. In fact I was hospitalized the night I was to get treatment due to a blood infection! I did get back on track the following week and got WBC building shots for 2 cycles of treatment. (can't remember the name of it) And never had an issue with WBC again. So yes it does happen and it doesn't necessarily mean anything bad or wrong.

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks Patteee for your reply.....I am so grateful to all of you...

snowyswitzerland
Posts: 11
Joined: Aug 2010

Your wife was me a year ago. I am stage 3 and also had 15 cm of my colon removed. I am also in a country where I don't speak the language and all my records come in German (I am British living in Switzerland).
A year later I have finished my chemo - I also had lots of problems with my WBC and lots of times my chemo had to be delayed. I now have check-ups every 3 months. This month will be my second check-up.
Please try not to panic. This group is amazing and so full of information. My biggest mistake was to surf the internet scaring myself sick. In the end I told myself I would live in the present and only worry about what was reality and not what my imagination conjured up for me! I have 2 young daughters so it was and still is very important for me to be positive for them. As my oncologist told me, until proven otherwise I have no reason to not be positive.
The other big thing for me was to cause a distraction. As crazy as it sounds I got two puppies whilst I was on chemo. These had been planned before I was diagnosed and I didn't what the cancer to win and for me to let my daughters down. It was tough getting up when I felt crap to let them pee - day and night! But more importantly it got me up and it meant I had to keep active, even when I could only shuffle and it took me over an hour to shower and get dressed.
Both yourself and your wife are not alone. Just take things a day at a time.
Anne

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks anne for your detailed reply....That is what I am doing day and night, surfing internet and its driving me crazy.....anyway I found this forum and its amazing.....
Thank you so much for taking time and replying....

AncientTiger's picture
AncientTiger
Posts: 130
Joined: Mar 2011

I also had stage 3,and had about the same amount of colon removed. And like your wife, I had 5FU along with Oxiliplatin. Chemo is a poison that kills "fast growing" cells in the body. Unfortunately, "fast growing cells" include white blood cells, and those associated with nerve endings in your hands and feet (hence the neuropathy). Docs don't like for your white blood count to get too low, as this is the way your body fights off infection that can come from bacteria that the body is exposed to each and every day. If that number is too low, then the risk of serious infection is too high for another dose of the chemo.

They may "turn down" the dose somewhat to offset the damage being done to the white blood cell counts, and also any side effects your wife may have from the treatments.

If I may ask, how many treatments is your wife recommended to receive? Mine was 12, one every two weeks... they also sent me home with a portable infuser that didn't dump it all in at once (which was NIIIIIIIII-IIIIIIIIIICE).

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks ancient Tiger for your reply.....she is supposed to do 12 chemo after 2 weeks, she stays in hospital for 3 days, and one of the medicine takes 48 hours....

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

Oh my goodness... I can just imagine what you and your wife are going through. An emotional rollercoaster that has no bounds. First, the joy of getting married and starting a new life (congratulations... you two will work this out together!), then the upheavel of having both your lives thrown upside down. So right now... the best advice is to just ignore all and any horror stories your imaginations are setting up for you. You have found this forum which is sooooo good that you have. You don't need to go out on the internet now and look up information because 90% of it is out of date or just plain wrong.

You come here with all your questions, no matter how small or inconsequential... we have so many experienced people here who have been through it all first hand. We can get you the answers to your questions... and the support you will get here is unbelievable.

Yes, language can certainly be a barrier... does her doctor or someone on his staff speak fluent English who can take the time to explain to you what the various reports mean? Or do you have a friend who you can have go over them and translate them to English? Either way... worse case scenerio, say you can't get an English translation.... when you go to her appointments (and there will be many, many of them), get yourself a nice big thick notebook. Write down questions in it whenever they hit you... even if its at 2am.... keep a section for all your questions. Of course, you can ask them here too, but there will be questions you want to ask her doctor... and when they give you the answers, write them down. This may sound silly and redundant, but seriously... our minds go into mini-shock and information overload so even if we THINK we are going to remember the answers, or understand the answers... it's amazing how much we don't remember them telling us. A big notebook will become your best friend, and probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give right now.

Now... as for her low WBC. Totally normal and not unusual at all. Some people, for some reason, have no problem with WBC... but the chemos we put in our bodies are really strong toxins. Yes, I say toxins because that is what they are... we are pumping our bodies with poison, with the goal being that that poison is going to kill off any cancer cells that might be floating around in our systems. Cancer cells that are so minute, they can't be picked up by the naked eye or even our imaging technology. Of course, as the chemo is killing off these bad cells, it is also killing off the good cells too... and that's when the WBC can get really low. Doctors monitor this because you don't want them to get so low that it becomes dangerous. You will note that she has to get blood work done before every chemo session... and this is why... so they can check that the WBC is high enough to continue with the next chemo session. If it isn't, then they will either give her a week or so delay so the WBC can build itself up again, or they will give her help with a shot.

Now, as for the chemo she's on (5FU + Oxiliplatin aka FOLFOX), this is a standard chemo that usually we all start out on. Some people tolerate it much better than others, only because we are all unique individuals... so no two people really have the same reaction. But there are common side affects that folk experience to different degrees. The one that most people have is the sensitivity to cold. If she feels this cold sensitivity, do not worry... it is so common that I'd be surprised if she didn't at some point.

So, I won't overwhelm you with more babble... you just make yourself home here and if your wife feels up to it, have her join us too. I was diagnosed back in December 2006 and still fighting the good fight :)

Cheryl
(Vancouver... west coast of Canada)

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks Cheryl for your reply. I am so grateful to all of you. You are all great.
Re language, I found one guy in a university near the hospital where my wife is getting treatment, and he is kind enough to translate whatever I need.
Re WBC I spoke to my wife today and she said now they are too high, so the doctor recommend to start chemo day after tomorrow. Atleast its a good news for me since I was scare that may be it will be delayed for some period.But again I dont know why are they so high after getting 3 injections over 3 days?
Her first chemo went quite well as she had only one bad day in that, the rest of that was OK..I just wish she finish her chemo ASAP and never have a recurrence, AS WELL ALL OF YOU PEPLE.........AS YOU ARE ALL GREAT.........
I could not imagined people will take their time in answering all these questions ......its overwhelming for me.......

Patteee's picture
Patteee
Posts: 950
Joined: Jul 2009

My WBC went wayyyyy high after the shots- but then settled down to normal after the next couple of cycles of chemo.

Just a few positives for you- my Mayo oncologist assured me that the 5Fu and oxil are world wide standard chemo treatments for stage 3 colon cancer. She would not be getting any different chemo treatment elsewhere! I was pretty sick on this chemo- the toxic levels go up with each treatment. Lots of people handle it just fine- others, like me, struggled with it :(

I am confused though, you said 12 treatments over 2 weeks and then 3 days in the hospital?

I spent several years in NE China and Beijing teaching- loved my time there. However, I am glad I wasn't going through cancer treatment there- I wasn't impressed with standards of health care. But, nothing new for you to hear I am sure!

What helped me greatly through my year of h*ll- is to break it into chunks- first the surgery, then the chemo, then take down surgery. I didn't allow myself to look ahead, nor would I allow myself to relive the horror of the past. I know it is overwhelming and still so fresh- you both are still in shock and fearful of the outcome. But the battle is ahead of you, not behind you. And the battle is so much a current or day to day thing. Looking ahead and fretting about reoccurances truly does nobody any good. Have hope for a great outcome, remain positive and have faith that she will be just fine.

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thank you so much Patteee. Yes, she is on 5FU+ Oxi, she is gonna get 12 treatment once every fortnight, and she stays in hospital for (atleast ) 3 days. The first day she gets her blood tests, and then they start chemotherapy. The 1st part takes about 7-8 hours and then she is given a 48 hours bottle kinda thing. for all this 48 hours, she remains in hospital. her first chemo was not that bad, but this time she has severe vomiting since yesterday ( soon after the chemo finished), and the worst part is i am not with her in china, I flew to my home country to get my visa to china, and I could just speak to her for a minute and she told me that she is vomiting since yesterday and feeling v bad.

my wife is in Guangzhou and so far i have found the health care ok, except that its so expensive especially when u are paying from your pocket. I could not imagine that it could be that expensive.
Thanks once again for your support, its so difficult and getting difficult day by day......but the support i got here is amazing.......the good old days are gone so hopefully these bad days will also go one day hopefully.....

here4lfe
Posts: 296
Joined: Jan 2010

My wife is stage 4, dx in July 09. She had platelet issues, but not WBC with the FOLFOX. She never had a treatment postponed, they would adjust the side effect meds according to her reactions (mostly Benadryl)

Hang in there.

Best

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thnaks here4life for your encouragement.............

buckwirth friend
Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 2011

... Looks like Sarah found a wonderful supportive husband. Good thoughts and prayers to you both.

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

WBC= white blood count...this is the immune system basically , it fights off all intruders as best it can..chemo sometimes while killing off bad cancer cells also destroys some good ones as well, these are the WBC or white blood cells....it also kills of rbc or red blood cells.....
OK, now when the WBC count goes down then they have to stop the chemo until it regains its strength or the low WBC count may compromise her bodys ability to fight off other infections, etcetera...It is normal for patients on Folfox...especially with Oxaliplatin being a main ingredient of the Folfox to cause the WBC to go low, the Oncologists will normally do one of two things, he will give her 1 injection of Neulasta, or 2-3 injections of Neupagen depends on what they want to use and availability there. This will cause her WBC to start back going up and will allow her to start her chemo treatments again very soon, say in a week or so. The injections may give her a slight headache or lower back pain. The reason is that she will be producing WBC at a higher rate than normal and she may be a little uncomfortable for a couple of days. Normally a Tylenol does the trick.

OK, something else....15 cms is about 7 inches...not much by most standards...she will come through like a champ but she will have side effects with the Folfox...some are very bad some aren't..dependant on her body makeup..but all are doable...

Keep coming here...we will keep you up to date on everything you ask us...This is the most current information you could ever possibly get anywhere..we are living survivors that know on a first hand basis what things are and how they may affect us, also how to deal with most of them...This place will keep you sane...we are here 24/7...

Remember, its not a disaster...its a part of your life that simply took a bad turn but will make each of you very much aware of the absolute beauty of the smallest things in life...You and your wife will see this as you travel this path...Keep reminding yourself, that this too will pass..and be kind to yourself as well as your wife..This does take a toll on the both of you..make sure to check yourself at the end of the day and assure that the 2 of you are still on the same page...This is an emotional journey as well as a physical one..Be kind to yourselves.......and keep in touch.....Love to you both

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks Buzzard for such a detailed reply.she is going to start her chemo day after tomorrow, That means one day break after the 3 injections, as now her WBC is too high!!!! ( That is what is told to me by my wife)..and yes she had a severe headache yesterday after the injection....
I am pasting the report

Pathological diagnosis:
1. (Epicolic lymph nodes) LN 5 nodes, no metastasis (0/5).
2. (Paracolic lymph nodes ) LN 7 nodes, 4 nodes had metastasis (4/7), and 1 cancerous node.
3. (Middle lymph nodes) LN 8 nodes, 3 nodes had metastasis (3/8), and 2 cancerous nodes.
4. (Intermediate mesenteric lymph nodes) LN 9 nodes, no metastasis (0/9).
5. (The specimen of colon tumor by colonectomy) well-differentiated adenocarcinoma of colon, invaded to all layer of the intestinal wall (T3), no cancerous plugs seen in the vessels, no neural tract invasion, the two cutting margin not involved with cancerous cells, omentum tissue had no metastasis.

I dont know how bad are they? I was only told by the doctor that its well differentiated and it has better prognosis!!!!( i wish its true)....

Thanks once again for taking your time....i really appreciate your kindness,.....

plh4gail's picture
plh4gail
Posts: 1232
Joined: Oct 2010

Hello just want you to know you're not alone in the worry department. But so far my though I have/had my own concerns, I seem to have managed through. I was diagnosed colorectal 3C in June and have had the chemo/radiation, 2 surgeries, then started the 12 rounds of Folfox. I made it through 6 of Folfox and on my 7th my onc changed to a different chemo combination called Folfiri. This was due to side effects. Your wife will probably be experiencing these as well, but we can hope they will be mild and tolerable.

Good luck with the treatments and we will all be here to support you and your wife. Questions...ask away....you will always get replies.

Love and hugs, Gail

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks Gail...her 1st chemo was not as bad as we expected, lets wait and see the 2nd one which is starting on sunday.....
Thanks for your support

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5045
Joined: Feb 2008

Goodness, you do have a situation. I can't imagine worrying about someone you love and trying to understand information about the case in another language.

I'm glad you've found this group. You are NOT alone.

*hugs*
Gail

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks toostie1 ....and yes its soooooo difficult.....she had her surgery on 28th January and it was on the 13th Feb that i knew about her cancer stage as 3b......because I was unable to understand and found some1 that day who could translate it to English.....

Thanks once again ....love you all....

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5045
Joined: Feb 2008

Goodness, you do have a situation. I can't imagine worrying about someone you love and trying to understand information about the case in another language.

I'm glad you've found this group. You are NOT alone.

*hugs*
Gail

christinecarl's picture
christinecarl
Posts: 545
Joined: Sep 2009

I am sorry about your wife. I finished my chemo in June of 2009 and I am doing fine, I missed a chemo due to the blood count, but you get back to it and continue on. Please update often to let us know how things are.

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks christinecarl for your support...its a shock for us as my wife has never been to hospital before, she just turned 26 on the 2nd of March, she never had even fever before...v v healthy...and now suddenly this ............. we got married in the 1st week of December and she is diagnosed on 25th January........... but what can we do?????its our life now....

belindahill's picture
belindahill
Posts: 144
Joined: Jan 2011

Hi, im a very worried wife, my husband Dx stage 3b colon cancer after bowel perforated Aug 2010. He will finish his chemo last cycle march 18th. I understand the worry you are going through, the support from this site is very good, helps you along the way, so many questions to ask and understand. I live in england and I think the treatments may be different. My husband done 8 cycles over 6 mths of Xeloda. I can not believe we have come this far and still smiling. scans due april. I wish you and your wife all the very best in the journey ahead. Keep us informed.

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks belindahill........yes, this forum is amazing, cancer is a scary word and you need these amazing people who can answer your questions in so much details ....best of luck with the scans...I wish and pray that everyone on this forum and this planet is cancer free...

AnneCan
Posts: 3693
Joined: Oct 2009

You have found a very good place to come with questions, answers, to vent, etc. I am sorry your wife was diagnosed with this darned disease! It sounds like your wife's WBC count is back on track; very good! It must be bery difficult for you not being together right now. My thoughts are with you.

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Annecan, thanks for your reply. luckily they started the 2nd treatment of chemo today, being away from her is v bad. i m going to apply tomorrow for my visa....hopefully i will get it soon...

Lori-S's picture
Lori-S
Posts: 1287
Joined: Sep 2010

and Welcome to the board. I am so sorry that you and your new wife are having to go through this. Just know that you are not alone and that if you come here there will most likely be someone here that has the same or a very similair experience.

While I was on chemo, I had to have my treatments delayed due to blood cells also. I had trouble with my platlets instead of my white cells. Everyone handles chemo a little differently and no one it seems has all the same results. Everyone is just so different. It is very common to delay chemo because of white blood cells or platlet counts being low and don't worry too much about that. My platlets dropped too low after my very first chemo too.

The injections you had to give were probably neupogen because those are the injections given for 3 days to bring up the white cell count. If they were high after 3 injections then the medicine did it's job and it's good to know that she responds well to it and it can be used for her to help keep her chemo on track. That is good news. There can be a lot of twists and turns on this journey so whenever possible always try to look for the possitive in the situation. It will really help you get through the worrisome times.

And again Welcome!

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thank you so much Lori-s. I am lucky that i found amazing people like you on this forum. I was really depressed when i heard her WBC low on the first chemo, but all the replies i got from this forum helped me take a sigh of relief. Thank God, they started the 2nd chemo today as her WBC were about 4000( I am not sure if that's correct but that is what i was told by my wife......she is also a bit naive about all this!!!!)

Thanks once again and best of luck...

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
pete43lost_at_sea
Posts: 3915
Joined: Nov 2010

hell of a honeymoon, sorry for both you and your wife.
It must be really frustrating dealing with the language issues.
this part of the journey is pretty hectic so if you can chill out and relax and smile at each other, even a few extra hugs will be good for yourselves.

we said for better or worse when we got married, so it took 16 years for my wife to get the worse deal.

all I can say is your wife is young and strong and I pray you both have a long and happy life togther after you deal with her cnacer.

Then you both cash in on the "better" part of the wedding vowels.

your strength and patients and care will make a huge difference to your wifes chances.
comeback here for any questions or just to vent.

I presume you are in china, have you tried any traditional chinese medicine ? I have and so far my folfox 6 chemo has been ok. But I am also trying to cover a few bases with complementary treatments. I was stage 3 as well.

welcome aboard,

Pete

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks Pete, I appreciate your kindness. after the first chemo, she could not sleep, so her mom gave her ginsing water( I am not sure if i am spelling it right!!), and it really helped. she could sleep really well and also she had better energy levels, except that we have not tried anything. we are thinking to try those things after the chemotherapy is over .This time the chemotherapy has hit her v v hard, I only spoke to her for a minute since she was feeling v bad.
I will definitely let you know about any traditional thing we use...

Thanks

Fight for my love
Posts: 1497
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi there.I understand your situation and it sounded like ours in 2009.My husband was diagnosed stage2 rectal cancer right after a month I arrived the U.S.and I am Chinese.Although I speak good English,the culture shock,jet lag and medical words overwhelmed me quite a bit.Luckily I found this board,I really got a lot help from here.

My husband is doing well now,he has no evidence of disease after the treatments and surgery.So please be confident,your wife should be fine like many other stage 3 people on this board.

If you need any help with language,please let me know.I hope she is receiving treatments in a good hospital in big city,usually they have good resources.I also hope she has family closed by,and they can also take good care of her.

Anyway, if you need help,please let me know.Take care.

very worried husband
Posts: 87
Joined: Feb 2011

Thank you so much fight for my love....it seems we are both fighting for our loved ones.so glad to see that your husband is doing well.
she is getting her treatment in guangzhou, and her sister is close to her, infact she is living in her sister's home since i flew back two weeks ago. her family is amazingly helpful. they did not tell her parents about her cancer since they are old.
I will definitely need your help and thank you so much for offering to help me. I am going back to china in the 1st week of april.

Thanks

khl8
Posts: 810
Joined: Nov 2009

You have come to the right place for support and caring! I am a stage 3 survivor and was very lucky that I 'sailed" through the chemo. I managed to work full time while undergoing treatment. Hang in there! and remember that all the information you read on the internet is old the minute it gets posted. there are so mnay survivors out there!

Kathy

Fight for my love
Posts: 1497
Joined: Jun 2009

No problem,very worried husband.If you need my help,just send me a private message.Wish you and your wife the best.Take care.Have a safe trip back to China.

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