CSN Login
Members Online: 10

How long does it take to recover from Chemo and Radiation?

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 1322
Joined: Jan 2013

I know my Onc and Rad Onc told me that recovery could take up to a year or more, but still I thought that I would bounce right back. I didn't!

I am seven months out from treatments, and still work through several side effects. 

- Neuropathy in both hands and feet. There has been great improvement in the hands, the numbness only in the fingertips now. The feet are improving very slowly. For months they felt like they were filled with cement, but now I can actually feel my toes moving when I wiggle them. I can feel them moving together. I hold out hope for the numbness to go away, or at least be minimal. 

- The joint pain is still bad in the mornings. I have to wiggle and stretch just to get out of bed. If I sit for too long, the joints seize up. But once I get moving I have no pain and all seems well. 

- The bowel had been misbehaving up until two weeks ago. I have had to stay pretty close to the house, due to the fact that when I need to go, I need to go NOW. I had to penguin walk to the bathroom as fast as I could. I noticed about a week ago, that I can walk at a normal speed to the loo. This is a great blessing. I also go on average 5 - 7 times a day, mostly from 5 AM - 1 PM. 

- I do not know if my lapses in thought or inability to find the right word is residule fall out from chemo brain or just me being 55, but I do have problems finding words, and often use the wrong word. 

- My tongue has never recovered from the Thrush, and is white and the back is coated thickly. I would be interested to hear if anyone is experiencing the same problem. 

- My hair is all back to normal. It didn't all fall out, but most of it, and I was left looking like Gollum (Lord of the Rings). I shaved it off at that point. 

The reason I am posting this, is because when I was starting this journey I was desperate for information. I would google and that is how I came across this wonderful forum. 

I just want to be here for someone, anyone who is deseperatly looking for hope and information. 

I know you all want the same, so if you want to share how long it has taken or is taking you to recover, that would be good. 

khl8
Posts: 809
Joined: Nov 2009

Recovery is not really the word I wouuld use, learning your new normal is more like it  

I am just about 5 years out from the end of my treatment from stage 3 rectal cancer and I stll have neurapathy issues with my feet.  I am on medication to lessen the effects that I take daily, my fingertips are still slighty numb. 

My bowels still act up from time to time, and I have to be very careful about what I eat, salad is a huge no no if I am going to be away from home. 

Chemo brain is always present, but it can also be attributed to my meds for the neuropathy. 

So, the moral of my story is; it's not recovery, it's life changing, but I am alive and if this is what I have to deal with to see the sun rise another day, so be it. 

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 2744
Joined: May 2009

Let's see 5FU ended August of 2009.  In 2012 I was still having pains walking but it's gone now, since about April 2013.     Maybe you need to try some LGlutimine to help rebuild your stomach lining.  Some licorice root is also good for your stomach.  A banana a day may also help you.  The nueroapathy, every night I rub coconut cannibis oil on them and it helps.  I had to get a cannibis medical card.  B12 for energy.  D3 if you are lacking, take it with calcium.    I drink ginger tea, chamomille tea, papaya tea.  Is your bottom on fire?  The medicated talcs really work well. 

 

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-878-GLUTAMINE.aspx?activeIngredientId=878&activeIngredientName=GLUTAMINE

 

I hope you see some positive results soon.

 

 

pamness
Posts: 511
Joined: Nov 2007

I am a bit over 6 years out, I like salad, but it will never be my great friend.

RickMurtagh's picture
RickMurtagh
Posts: 530
Joined: Feb 2010

well put

janderson1964
Posts: 1525
Joined: Oct 2011

I am about to do radiation for the first time so I can't answer that question but I was usually over chemo within a week. I think my contant mountain biking helps that a lot but I also know that everyone is different.

why_me
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2014

Thank you very much for sharing your story.  You are right in that some of us are just starting this long road and are afraid.

I had surgery 3 weeks ago for colon cancer and start chemo next week.  I have no idea what to expect and having your story helps so much.  Thank you.

When I was diagnosed with stage 4, I took it like a man.  I then found myself breaking down at odd times and tearing up.  I worry about my wife and daughter so much if I do not make it through.   I am reading for the first time the stories here and the support that each of you give each other, and it helps so much.  Again, thank you.

Timothy

Jimmontana
Posts: 9
Joined: Mar 2014

Why me. 

I hear you big time. I went in for a baseline colon exam Just before Christmas.  It's now the end if March. In between then and now I had 18 " of my sigmoid Colon removed. One small tumor. One lymph node out of 24 was bad. No blood traces but did a CT scann to check and found a small spot on my liver. March 11th I had my liver spot removed about the size if a baseball.  Biopsy and margins all came back clean.  So now I had a port implanted on 3/28. Chemo will start in April for the next six months every two weeks.  I'm scared as hell. And emotional puddle. My wife is supportive but has told me she is now my roomate so no affection until who knows. My kids are worried and in just taking everything day by day.  I have my faith.  

I would love advice but don't know what to do. 

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 1322
Joined: Jan 2013

Thank you for posting. And thank you for replying to Timothy's (Why Me) post. 

We would love to get to know you and to help you as you follow the cancer path. One of our dear members, LoveKitties, has opened a new thread just for you. If you haven't already found it, here it is http://csn.cancer.org/node/269370 and the forum is here http://csn.cancer.org/forum/128

Join us all as we travel together. 

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 1322
Joined: Jan 2013

You are the reason I posted this. You and everone looking on the internet for help.

We are all here for you. I think it would be fair to say that you will find someone here who knows exactly what you are going through, especially emotionally. 

Chin up! You can do this. We can all do this together. 

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2181
Joined: Oct 2011

to feel back to normal, but I am three years out from chemo, and I still have joint pain, neuropathy, and digestive problems.  I have the sneaking suspicion that this may be the "new normal"!  Better than the alternative, but still not very fun.

ETA welcome to Timothy!  You can create a new post if you like, to introduce yourself.  Gives people a chance to say hello!

YoVita's picture
YoVita
Posts: 540
Joined: Mar 2010

The recovery took longer than I hoped but shorter than forever.  Some side effects only lasted through the treatment cycle (2 weeks), others I still struggle with - but I'm still here.  Good luck - every week gets better.  

LOUSWIFT
Posts: 359
Joined: Aug 2006

The simple answer is "NEVER". Doctors will tell you a year maybe two. The truth was already stated here. You will never be you again. You will be the new normal with many adjustments and dealing with issues that you expect to bounch back from.

lp1964's picture
lp1964
Posts: 839
Joined: Jun 2013

...human body is amazing, cancer and it's treatment has a profound effect on it. When I was diagnosed but before I started treatment I had symptoms I could not explain and I am a doctor. In cancer your own cells turn against you and mess up your entire system. Then comes the mental aspect of the didease that makes it even more complicated. The treatment also interferes with the fundamental function of cancer and healthy cells: their rejuvenation and multiplication. These drugs are designed to stay in your cells for a long time so they can control the growth. That is why they have platinum in them so it is harder to get rid of them. For the same reason the side effects will take a long time to diminish too. I still get very tired very easy. Even mental work tires me out really bad.

It is really hard to accept that I will never be the same, but this is the only life I got and I'm grateful for it.

Laz

DD3's picture
DD3
Posts: 36
Joined: May 2013

to the party again... Cry

 

My wife is 5 months our of chemo...  Let's see...

- Nueropathy... Seems to be a our biggest battle as of now.  She is on gabapentin.  Says it helps.  We know this by the fact if she misses a dose the nueropathy ramps up.  She has it in her feet and hands.  Trying to see if we can get a consult to Nuerology.  Probably not much they can do, worth a shot.

- Bowel control - Oh boy.  She is 4 months out from her ileostomy takedown.  This is going to be a battle too.  Frequent and urgent trips to the bathroom.  She take L-Glut and Metomucil.  Help with the "bulk" but frequency is a issue.  I pray this gets better for her.

- "Chemo brain" - She tends to forget what she is doing sometimes or can find the word she might be looking for. 

Not all bad though.  She is back to the gym working out 4 times a week.  She was jogging around the block this morning as I left for work, she actually thinks walking and running helps with the neuropathy in her feet.  Hair is coming back strong.  And of course is back to work full time and enjoying her first granchild. 

 

 

 

 

Helen321's picture
Helen321
Posts: 721
Joined: May 2012

That's interesting because I just started being able to really exercise without having difficulty breathing and suddenly my feet are starting to feel better.  I wonder if it's better circulation.  I also eat a banana every day now and that stopped the cramping I was having.  I can't eat any other fruit without having bathroom issues but I can eat bananas.

thxmiker's picture
thxmiker
Posts: 1201
Joined: Oct 2010

The thrush  - I needed a mouth wassh and dissolve able tablets.  This treatment took about two weeks.  If I get a reoccurence it is because i have eaten to much sugar in my diet.  Now i have learned not to eat sugar and that has lept the thrush away.

 

I have never regained the feelings in my toes, and have dimminshed feelings in my two perferal fingers.

 

My sight and hearing took a little bit of a loss also.  I now use reading glasses and I am fine.  My hearing is dimminshed slightly.  I had a hearing test done and it says I am still better then average, but as a Audio Engineer I can tell it is off a little from before.

 

Taste and feeling warm again all came back to normal.  Taste came back quickly after chemo.  Feeling warm took two years for me to feel normal again.  I do like things sweeter then I did before chemo, and I can not eat pickles any more.  They upset my stomach.  (I used to love pickles!) 

 

Else, life is pretty much back to normal.  I actually move faster then I did when I started my cancer journey.  The daily walking turned in to daily jogging.  I went from walking a few blocks daily, to jogging 3-5 miles every day.   I lost 60 lbs and now I am very fit.  We eat only real food, no more fast food, no more boxed or frozen food!  We make fresh food every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Life after recovering from cancer is a real good thing!

Best Always,   mike 

Helen321's picture
Helen321
Posts: 721
Joined: May 2012

Glad to hear the bathroom portion is getting back to normal.  That's a really big one.  It does get better and better over time.  I'm just starting to notice the improvements.

I'm a year and a few months out and I can't walk on bare floors although just this past week, I was able to walk two days with no pain in my heels.  I always keep bedroom slippers available.  Up until a month ago I had to wait 10 minutes to get out of bed because my feet would hurt terribly if I got up too fast.  I am suddenly able to go up and down stairs with ease most days.  I wasn't able to do that either, I'd be out of breath.  Slowly but surely some things are getting back to normal.  My hips still hurt.  I started taking vitamin D and my elbows stopped hurting, some things are not always cancer related.  Also I've been having major problems with my teeth.  It seems after one gets worked on, the next one goes.  With the ostomy, bathroom life is very good for me but I can't eat fruit or vegetables except in very small portions or I have a blowout.  That part is a downer as it's hard to eat healthy when you can't eat fruits or vegetables.  My brain is not recovering as fast as I'd like.  Words were also hard up until about a month ago and then suddenly, boom no more delay but also sometimes conversations are overwhelming, I've lost my ability to respond to jokes quickly and sometimes I just don't get that people are joking anymore.  I also find that in writing, I skip words.  I'm typing something and I'll see it later and realize I left out several words.  I'm thinking them but they never hit the page.  I talked to the doc about this and he said this is two sided physical and emotional and as time passes and I deal with the emotional side, things should get better and I'll lighten up and hopefully my brain will clear up.  I'm making more of an effort to deal with the emotional side.

lp1964's picture
lp1964
Posts: 839
Joined: Jun 2013

2 months out of treatment I'm going through changes. Before my schedule was determined by appointments and had to live day by day, now it is scarry that you have to plan and make plans, because the questiom is always in the back ofy head: am I gonna be able to to that. 

Wjen I divorced 7 years ago I made some major changes in my personality and went from shy to confident. Now I have self esteem issues again, when I met my second wife I started eating healthy first time I'm my life. Now I can't eat raw veggies and fruits just like Helen. It's ironic: life seems to put you back where you started. 

Ache's and pains are still an issue, I stlll cannot put my socks on or cross my legs. I still get tired very easy and run out of breath. 

Last week after weeks of improvements some of my chemo symptoms came back. Sore mouth, numb fingers and toes, aching joints, low energy, sore finger beds and finger tips. I think my cells are releasing the chemo. I don't know, but it ain't easy.

I have been feeling down lately. After I feel like my life has been saved, I'm gerting greedy and ask myself: what kind of life have I left with. Lots of issues and no guaranties that this dissease won't come back. 

Well, the best I can do is keep the good things in my life infront of me and deal with the bad.

Laz

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network