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Anxiety about interferon treatments, any advise?

bejewelled
Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2012

Hello,

Had surgeries in the fall 2011 to remove tumors in both left and right axilla. Only one or two extra nodes infected.
Oncologist recommends the one year of interferon alpha b. I have been voraciously reading horror stories on the web and not sure if I am up to this.
In addition to anxiety about feeling ill for a year, I am terrified of losing or thinning hair ( I have problematic thin hair already). I am not sure I can do this.
Any help, advise, encouragement?
My treatment will be at USC Norris .

thanks to all in advance.

angel72280
Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2012

I was diagnosed with melanoma on my lower abdomen in Dec '08, it went to one lymph node. I did high doses of interferon 5 days a week for four weeks.
A year I'm sure would be harder than a month...I did feel tired on it, but if I stayed hydrated like they told me, I didn't feel as sick. I was also given meds that helped with feeling sick. My hair did thin on it, but if that is something you're really worried about...I'm sure there are people who would help you get a wig. I met a lot of people with wigs, and you couldn't even tell.
Its been almost three years since my treatment, and if I had to do it again...I would. Its really worth it to save your life!! It's scary now but when you are done and feeling good again, you'll be so thankful you did it!

Zod66's picture
Zod66
Posts: 28
Joined: May 2008

I believe you will be able to click on a link under my profile name which will take you to my page and that will tell you a little about my experience. But, just in case I'll highlight some items for you:
1. First off everyone's experiences are different so don't get too worked up thinking you'll experience every side effect you read about
2. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate. This will most likely be your biggest challenge.
3. You will most likely need an objective person to keep an eye on your moods. If this person can tell you that your emotions are not what they normally are then seriously consider taking an anti-depressant.
4. Ask for a prescription that you can take right after your treatments (IV and the shots) that will help you deal with the symptoms; I personally took Demerol. Demerol is however a potentially addictive drug so if you have any history of addictions (nicotine, caffeine, etc.) then this might be something to avoid as long as you can.
5. Support from family and friends, and your employer are a must. I called in family & friends to sit with me during the intravenous sessions the first month. My wife was the most steadfast and supportive person I could have ever hoped for. I tried to give myself the shots but I've always had issues with needles and the injections had their negative side effects (not like I was getting a good high or something or might could have done it so after about three times I couldn't do it anymore and she took over. And you will most likely, sporadically, miss work. I never could really determine when I would feel good or bad and my employer was very understanding and flexible during the 14+ months of surgeries and treatments.

dearfoam's picture
dearfoam
Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2011

I have read a lot of patients dealing with treatments like interferon at the Melanoma.org board: http://www.melanoma.org/community/mpip-melanoma-patients-information-page

Hope there you might find additional support and specific info - was really helpful for us. My dad did not use Interferon, but like another commenter stated, you will not experience every side effect! And do drink plenty of fluids!

Best,
DF

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