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First Treatment

Posts: 10
Joined: Sep 2013

Hey everyone, My husband is scheduled to have his first treatment on Monday. He will be getting ABVD. We have been waiting for this, but as it gets closer, I'm becoming more nervous. We have not had our counseling with the nurse yet to walk us through the road map, that will be on Monday as well. As we were setting up all of these appointments, I never asked if there is anything we need to do before the treatment. Can anyone who has been treated with ABVD tell me if he should be fasting, high calorie diet before, high protein, lots of water, etc. I'm sure they will tell us on Monday, but by then it will be to late (at least for the first treatment). I didnt think of these questions until last night, and no one is in the office. It is sent to an answering service who has no answers for me. Thanks. Leana

merrywinner's picture
Posts: 618
Joined: Aug 2009

I did not have ABVD I had 6 cycles of R CHOP. I did not have to do anything special prior to my treatments and I was instructed to take all of my medications, if any, as usual. Eat normally unless there is scheduled bloodwork in which case I always had to fast. I would think they would have told you if they wanted anything special. I am sure it will be fine and go off without a hitch. Good luck. Mary

Posts: 209
Joined: Jun 2012

Hi Chrisjag:

I know nothing about the treatment.   But this is very important.   I would leave an attention-getting message AND call the hospital the doctor is connected with and try to track him down OR someone who can help you.  When necessary, I have become more aggressive on the phone and I definitely would be if I were you.


Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 909
Joined: May 2012


At least you have some answers now. Lots of people here have received abvd, since it is the most common first-line treatment for HL. 

Unlike CHOP, abvd does not contain any Prednisone, which is a steroid which can cause jitters and stimulate appetite.  The effects of abvd (like most chemo combinations) are "cumulative," and intesify over time. He may have few, or no, symptoms after his first one or two treatments.  He may in fact never have many side-effects. Others (like me) are less lucky. 

The most common side-effects are extreme fatigue (I was sleeping 16 hours per day), gradual loss of appetite, and many people get neuropathy (numb hands and feet). Also, he will almost certainly lose all of his hair after his second or third treatment.  Some lose their sense of taste, and mental confusion is common after several treatments, especially memory loss.  Discoloration of nails is common.  Mouth ulcerations are relatively common.   Bleomycin can cause severe respriatory problems in rare cases, especially if the patient is older or has pre-existing respriatory issues.   I had all of these things plus others but, as I said, each individual's experiences are unique.

Along with loss of appetite (which is a form of drug-induced aneroxia), he may develope certain food cravings and adversions. All I could eat for two months were french fries and breakfast drinks. Forget about "a tailored diet." I had another friend on MOPP years ago, and all he would eat for 4 months was pot pie !  He went from 220 to 130 pounds.

The intensity of symptoms varies with the amount of drug received.  Six "cycles" of abvd (which is 12 infusions, or six months' worth of treatment) is the max recommended by the FDA  (I had this 12 infusion, six month treatment.)  Persons getting fewer does will have an easier time in most cases.  The following describes each drug in detail, along with all side-effects.

One last thing: ABVD is EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE  ! The discomfort is worth it in the long run !



Posts: 10
Joined: Sep 2013

Thanks! I was able to reach the on-call doctor. He said eat a light breakfast and do everything else we would normally do. 

Posts: 209
Joined: Jun 2012


Glad to hear that you reached the on-call doctor, and got the food question answered.  

I remember arriving at my hospital once for a CT-Scan and found that they had not told me to take a certain pill before the Scan.   I, therefore,  could not take the scan.  They were very apologetic and on my next visit, they gave me a $10 certificate in a card to spend, so my husband and I had lunch in their cafeteria.

I hope all goes well for your husband.


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