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What to expect with chemo

John14v1
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2013

Hi, all,

I have been reading your posts since I found out about my dad's cancer diagnosis two days ago.  I am so blessed by your support for one another.  Even though this is the last thing I wanted to do today - sign up on a cancer discussion board - I am so grateful to have a network of people who have walked this road.

My dad is 65.  He has none of the health issues that often plague a person with EC; no diabetes, no heartburn history, no family history of cancer, non-smoker, non-alcoholic beverage consumer, etc.  He is a healthy weight and, because my mom is a personal trainer, eats very healthy as well. Trouble swallowing and stomach cramps led to a doctor's appointment, which led to this.  

He just had a scope yesterday.  I believe it was an EUS (still learning).  The doctor said the tumor is small-ish (about 1.5 inches).  At first glance, they estimated it to be stage 1 or 2 and project 5-6 weeks of chemo and radiation (he is going to MDA Houston Monday to explore Proton Therapy) and then surgery a month after he finishes.  

I am in Africa.  I am only on day two of absorbing this, trying to learn all I can, trying to understand what this fight will be like.  I planned to go home for about a month for my Dad's surgery in July.  But now I am wondering if I need to be there during chemo as well.  My mom is 63 and in decent health but I know this battle will test us like none other.  If I ask my Mom if I can come help, she will tell me no.  I have two elementary age kids that will have to stay behind (with my husband) in Africa for school.  Not to mention, my parents need to rest, not entertain grandkids.  I am saying all this because my Mom will not want me to have to leave my family to be with them.  She never asks for help because she never wants to burden anyone.   

My question is this.  I know everyone reacts to chemo and radiation differently.  Can anyone please share the reality of what my dad will go through, and my mom as his caregiver, so I can decide if I need to be there to support my Mom?  

 

callerid
Posts: 99
Joined: Dec 2012

I haven't been on this board long myself, but I think it safe to say that everyone reacts differently to chemo.  My husband did not have any problems aside from nausea and sensitivity to the cold. However, he is Stage IV so his regimen may be different then those preparing for surgery. 

Since your dad is feeling well, I would wait on travel.  He has a long road ahead of him. Depending on his course of treatment, they will probably need you more later on.  Surgery offers its own challenges as others will tell you.  

There are several people that go to MD Anderson in Houston.

Just to reassure you, I wanted to be alone. I knew I could call my grown children at any time and they would come.

His chemo: 

Oxaliplatin  Herceptin  Xeloda

CarolandJoe
Posts: 23
Joined: Feb 2013

My husband went through a similar course of treatment that is being recommended for your father.  He was also 65 when diagnosed 9/2012.  The chemo was a lighter dose to enhance the radiation.  The side effects of the chemo were minimal but he did take anti-nausea meds daily so that probably helped.  The radiation was the more difficult treatment.  Initially he could swallow soft foods but after the completion of the radiation and chemo his esophagus was so swollen he could barely swallow liquids.  His surgeon did give him a j-tube prior to starting the chemo/radiation so he only lost about 10 pounds during the time between diagnosis and surgery thanks to the j-tube feedings.  Everyone reacts differently and I think that is partly due to different techniques of the radiation and the different chemo meds used.  Depression and a feeling of helplessness can be expected.  My husband experienced a lot of anxiety.  He had his surgery 1/8/13 and is now having post-surgery chemo and herceptin.  This is a rough road for the patient and the caregivers.   My prayers and best wishes go out to your father, mother and your family.  Try to stay positive. 

Tina Blondek's picture
Tina Blondek
Posts: 1560
Joined: Nov 2009

Hello to you your dad and your mom! Welcome to our family. I was a caregiver for my dad. He had stage 4 and it went to his liver. He passed

peacefully on March 9, 2010. Being the fact that your dad has caught this early at stage 1 or 2, and that he can have surgery is very good.

It is true, everyone responds differently to chemo. My dad had an oral chemo called xeloda, and did very well with it. Only side effect was

exhaustion by the end of the week. The chemo and radiation my dad received did shrink the tumor. My dad was not a candidate for surgery

being at a stage 4. Your dad is truly blessed to have caught his EC early. I would advise you to do what is best for all of you. Go be with your

dad and mom if you can. If not, arrange to definitely be there for his surgery and recovery. You take care and stay positive. I am amazed that

we can all connect here, even with you in Africa!

Tina in Va

 

ualgal's picture
ualgal
Posts: 9
Joined: Feb 2013

My husband is 72 and has just recently completed the 5 weeks of Proton Therapy and a daily oral chemo, Xeloda, along with a weekly Chemo drip for 5 weeks at MD Anderson. He handled both chemos very well experiencing no hair loss nor nausea. The radiation did fine for the first 3 weeks and then he was unable to eat almost anything. Week 4 he began to lose weight. We asked about a feeding tube and were told it would be too risky. They kept scripting him some form of pain medication, hiccup pills, spasm medications, etc. By the end of his 5 weeks of treatments, he was unable to tolerate anything other than water. As he was now dehydrated, they put him on IVs to up his vitamins and minerals but still didn't do a feeding tube.

5 days post treatment he was unable to void, etc and his ankles were very swollen. A few days later he had lab work done and appt. with the oncologist, not the PA, where he was diagnosed malnourished and depleted mineral levels. Still no feeding tube! He ordered more IVs, some with glucose and some with vitamins/minerals to be given daily for 9 days. Unfortunately, no one was monitoring the fluid intake, though his ankles and legs were getting swollen to point of looking like 2 fence posts - because of malnutrition there isn't albumin/protein and the water isn't able to be absorbed into the blood stream so it just builds up in the tissues. Also, due to lack of protein his muscles deteriorated to the point where his skin just hangs off his body. Still no food intake - nutrition shakes would not go down without extreme pain. Three weeks to the day post treatments we went to the MDA emergency room. They did everything for him; took labs, EKG, Ultrasound, scans. He was suffering from extreme malnutrition, and had been over hydrated so they had to start him on a diuretic IV immediately. The ER doctor thought he needed a feeding tube and admitted him to the hospital that night.

3 days later a wonderful GI doctor, Dr. Stroehlein, performed a gastronomy - feeding tube, and did a balloon dilation of Jay's esophagus. He is now getting nutrition.....through the feeding tube as well as eating small amounts of real food. It's only been 9 days and he's starting to get back some color and a little vitality. We feel we are on the road to recovery.....not from the cancer part, but from the nearly killing him part!

Sorry to be so long....I'm 68 and was very able to care for my husband throughout the treatments and afterwards. I agree with the others that probably they will need you the most after his surgery and during the recovery period. I wrote all of this so as to encourage you to exhort your mother to be pushy when she perceives a need that isn't being resolved until it is taken care of. If I could go back I would do it so differently....contact the patient advocate to assist with concerns and insist that something be done to help my husband.

God bless your parents as they make all the decisions with which they'll be faced and give them strength to endure.

Dad'sfight
Posts: 155
Joined: Feb 2013

My father was dx stage 3 9/2012. It is so true when said that everyone responds differently. He Too was set to have 6 weeks of chemo and radiation but was delayed by what I describe to be bad luck and set backs. He couldn't start treatment until the last week of Nov. Because of infection causing him to loose feeding tube he had a rough time with nutrition during chemo. Fortantly for me I live where he does so I could be involved 110%. My sister lives far away and also gas 2 little ones, we agreed in the beginning that she come out when chemo got tough because we knew we would need her for surgery Too. My mom works full time, my father is only 55, but if she was retired she could have handled the chemo herself. The surgery dad just had on Monday, I'm glad she saved her time to be here now, the rollar coaster with this surgery is really thought and I think people need to be with the loved one around the clock to get all the updates and struggles the patient is facing. Medically my mother wouldn't begin to understand, but I work in the medical field which is both an advatage and disadvantage. My experiece has proven surgery and recovery she needed all the help she could get, emotional support too!! It makes me so sad to see another person suffering with EC, I will pray for him and your family. Being a caretaker and watching my father suffer has been the worst, there's nothing I could have done to prepare myself. This site has been the best thing during this journey!!

Dad'sfight
Posts: 155
Joined: Feb 2013

My father was dx stage 3 9/2012. It is so true when said that everyone responds differently. He Too was set to have 6 weeks of chemo and radiation but was delayed by what I describe to be bad luck and set backs. He couldn't start treatment until the last week of Nov. Because of infection causing him to loose feeding tube he had a rough time with nutrition during chemo. Fortantly for me I live where he does so I could be involved 110%. My sister lives far away and also gas 2 little ones, we agreed in the beginning that she come out when chemo got tough because we knew we would need her for surgery Too. My mom works full time, my father is only 55, but if she was retired she could have handled the chemo herself. The surgery dad just had on Monday, I'm glad she saved her time to be here now, the rollar coaster with this surgery is really thought and I think people need to be with the loved one around the clock to get all the updates and struggles the patient is facing. Medically my mother wouldn't begin to understand, but I work in the medical field which is both an advatage and disadvantage. My experiece has proven surgery and recovery she needed all the help she could get, emotional support too!! It makes me so sad to see another person suffering with EC, I will pray for him and your family. Being a caretaker and watching my father suffer has been the worst, there's nothing I could have done to prepare myself. This site has been the best thing during this journey!!

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