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Chemotherapy Gone Horribly, Horribly Wrong

sashes14
Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2011

My 68 yr old mother was an extremely healthy woman who was diagnosed with triple negative stage one breast cancer back in March. Her lumpectomy surgery in May was successful however given the rarity of her cancer, she elected for chemotherapy. Now, after one round of chemo treatment, she is fighting for her life. Seven days after receiving her first dose of chemo (a combo of cytoxan and taxotere), my mother was admitted to the ICU. She suffered from the standard side effects - tiredness, nausea, diarreha, etc. However, it turns out those signs were actually the result of a raging infection that was ravishing her body, leaving her white blood cell count at 0.4 and sending her into septic shock. For the past 5 days she has remained in extremely critical condition and the Dr.s cannot seem to determine where the infection is coming from. Therefore they are not able to treat it directly. They feel it may have started in her GI tract however noone knows for sure and she's far too unstable to perform any surgery. She is on dialysis for her kidneys, her heart is weak and now her white blood cell count is in the 40s. This is such a devastating blow to my family. Here we thought she was on the mend when in fact, her battle had not even begun. Every time we speak with one of the many speciality Dr.s who are tending to her, we never get any answers. The only thing they say is, this is SUCH a rare reaction but unfortunately, it can happen and this is one of those unfortunate situations. That is the most unsatisfactory response when your beloved mother's fate hangs in the balance. Am just not sure where to go from here...

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

I am so sorry to hear about your Mother's horrific complications, what a total nightmare you all are going through. I know a little about bad side effects as I am a 24 year survivor and am still on disability for all the side effects I have had due to my treatments many years ago.

Have you had other specialists come in from another hospital perhaps and do a second opinion? If you have had only the ones associated with the one place in perhaps someone outside that facility might give you another opinion or might have more experience with this kind of complication. Also have you googled your Mother's medical situation online to see if there is any information or clues on what others have experienced with anything like this? Try the Mayo Clinic site too and search your Mother's condition.

I assume you are in the states, I am in Canada, but we have a site here that comes right out of our major cancer hospital in Toronto and the site is called 'Caring Voices'. They have online meetings with many professionals from the hospital and if you go through the list of their meeting topics you might find one where you can attend online and ask your question to the proper professional, if indeed the topics jive with your Mother's situation in any way. Just an idea. You can also post there on their discussion boards and someone might offer up some ideas too. Cancer is universal so doesn't matter what country you talk to.

I wish I had more ideas but the big one I think that might help is to get a second opinion. You could google 'internal specialists' or whatever specialist you think might help her at this point and see who comes up who specializies in your Mothers type of cancer, treatment or side effects.

Please keep us updated and I wish you all the very best.

Blessings,

Bluerose

P.S. I just thought of something else. Why don't you try to call The Lance Armstrong Clinic or Perini Clinic at Dana Farber? The Perini Clinic deals in side effects from cancer treatments, for adults, and maybe someone there might have some experience with this kind of issue. Speak to a nurse practitioner if you can.

sashes14
Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2011

Dear Bluerose,

Thank you so much for your response. I am terribly sorry to read that you too suffered some debilitating side effects from your treatment as well. However, you are a remarkable fighter as a 24 year survivor and I wish you the best on your continued fight.

After spending 21 days in the ICU, something of a miracle occurred on Friday, July 22. We received a call at 8am from the hospital ICU nurse saying that mom was asking for her family. Since mom has been in a medical induced coma for over 20 days and was basically non-responsive up until that phone call, we rushed to the hospital to find her sitting up and mouthing responses to the drs and nurses. She is trached so she is not vocal but we are very good lip readers. It was as if a light switch was flipped on overnight. She was discharged to a long term acute care facility on Friday afternoon in order to continue her longer term rehabilitation. She has a long road ahead of her but we are beyond overjoyed at the sheer fight and determination this woman has within her. We are prepared for many ups and downs on her long road to recovery however since she continues to ask for 'margaritas', we know she is taking on the charge full-steam ahead. Again, thank you for your response. We have been grabbing at straws for the past 20+ days and we're just so thankful for all of the support we've received. Words really cannot express our most heartfelt gratitude and appreciation.

Sincerely,
Sashes14

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

I am so happy to hear of your Mother's miraculous awakening. You must all be just simply overjoyed beyond words. I too had some miraculous medical happenings myself so I know how you all must be feeling.

Margaritas eh? Sounds like my kind of survivor. lol. Give her all my best as one of the long time survivors and I bet by how you describe her she will be one too in time in Margareteaville. lol.

All the best to you and yours. Cancer can be beaten and your Mother is on her way.

Blessings,

Bluerose

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