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What is chemo/radiation like?

Starleen
Posts: 40
Joined: Feb 2007

Just wondering what people feel like and quality of life while receiving treatments. Thanks!

Mickeyw
Posts: 28
Joined: Jan 2007

Every Treatment is different and every oncologist is different. You need to be more specific as to treatment and type of cancer. For instance, I know a person who had the same colon cancer as me, we are both getting the same chemo combination, however my doctor gave me calcium, magnesium, nausea medecine via IV starting with my first treatment, hoever the other persons onc did not start giving him the calcium and magnesium until he started experiencing joint and jaw pain problems. He is having a much tougher time than I on the same medeciines, some of which I attribute to the way his medicines were given. I think your state of mind, your attitude in handling side efeects, your doctor, and your overall general health besides the cancer are paramount in how your body reacts to the chemo.

PGLGreg's picture
PGLGreg
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

I had 33 radiation treatments and 10 chemo injections for stage 2 rectal cancer. But after my operation to cut out the cancer, rather than before. Chemo and radiation were inconvenient at times, but I didn't a big problem with them (as I know some do). One day of nausea from the chemo and several weeks of very loose stools and gas. The treatments themselves were short and painless.

Greg

Moesimo's picture
Moesimo
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

Most people tolerate chemo and radiation ok. I was able to work full time. I wore a fanny pack with continuous chemo and had daily rad. treatments. I had a 3;15 appt. for rad, and drove myself. I was really tired after a couple of weeks and didn't do much besides work. You will get through this.

Good luck and email me thru this site if I can help more.

Maureen

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

As others have said, it depends on your particular chemo 'cocktail' and treatment. I had chemoradiation for 5.5 weeks before my surgery for rectal cancer. The chemo was 5FU plus leucovorin. I can't rememer the exact schedule for the chemo. But it was pretty "light" chemo. The main purpose of the chemo (as I understand it) was to enhance the effectiveness of the radiation. The radiation was 5 days a week for 5.5 weeks. The radiation itself just takes a few minutes. Side effects: the chemo made me a little nauseaous (make sure you get an anti-nausea medicine which works for you. There are many out there -- keep trying if one doesnt' work). And a little tired but not bad. The radiation can also make you a little tired. But the effects are delayed. So, for example, you may not feel tired till a few weeks after the radiation starts, but then it can last a few weeks after it ends. The biggest problem I had with the radiation was diarrhea and also "butt burn" (excuse the term). I have very fair and sensitive skin anyway. The radiation can give you like a bad suburn around your 'nether' regions. Talk to your nurses and doctors about this -- they should be able to make some recommendations. I ended up taking "sitz' baths and also used some creams (but get their advice on this -- apparently some creams can interfere with the radiation). The diarrhea can be frequent and painful. I don't mean to put you off. Symptoms vary and you may experience none of this. It does pass!! And all this being said, I managed to work and lead a pretty normal life throughout. Best wishes to you.
Tara

LOUSWIFT
Posts: 372
Joined: Aug 2006

I had six weeks on radiation and chemo running Monday through Friday with nothing on weekends. I didn't notice any difference until Saturday rolled around. Then it was fatique for the whole day but rebound on Sunday. So in the pre-surgery stage life didn't change much. I conitnued working and did everything I normally did. Of course the tattoos and the day to day exposure of ones posterior is always interesting. When they took photographs of the tattoos and my behind I figured it must look better then I thought to generate so much interest:). Just Kidding! Generally don't expect the worst of it until after the surgery and then with continued chemo if needed. The surgery does take a lot of strength from you and then the chemo hit me hard fairly soon after. Everyone is right and they want to advise you on specifics and thats good because there can be different outcomes and different chemo treatments etc. Life after surgery with chemo was hard I restricted my life to just doing my job. There were too many side-effects and no energy left for anything else. Don't try to rush recovery after chemo-it will take time but recovery will come. The important thing is that you don't ever quit; you count on your family and friends for support; and you never let fear run your life even though it is a part of it. You can do it we will help.

vinny3's picture
vinny3
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

The others have described it pretty well. You may not feel much for two weeks. Then you will notice fatigue. Naps are very helpful if you can get one in. I was able to work almost a full schedule. The bottom burn became quite bothersome and as mentioned be sure to discuss with the radiation people what you can use on it. The fanny pack can get in the way for sleep and you have to remember it is there if you get up during the night. The 5 FU may cause some eye irritation, some nausea (that didn't affect me too much). For us older ones who have some precancerous skin spots it makes them "light up" and eventually peel. The good part is that it is actually treating them and after they heal the skin is clearer. You will get through it.

Dick

KierstenRx's picture
KierstenRx
Posts: 249
Joined: Nov 2006

Chemo/radiation is not fun!!! However, it is so worth doing!!! I had 28 radiation session (m-f) and wore a fanny pack of 5-FU 7 days a week. It made me tired, food tasted weird, and really constipated (most people get diarrhea). I worked 6-7 hours daily during my entire treatment. Even though I did not feel good I made myself get up everyday, get dressed, do my hair and makeup, and live my life like I wasn't sick. That is how I got through. The last couple weeks and then about 2 weeks after stopping I had horrible pain in my rectum from the radiation. It felt like razor blades. I took pain medication around the clock. Don't be afraid to control your pain. The pain slowly started subside after a couple weeks.
For me, this is why it was worth it. I had my surgery on Feb 5th. 99% of my tumor was dead (only a live cell here and there). All margins around the tumor was clear. All lymph nodes negative (2 positive before treatment). It was worth it and I was still able to maintain a pretty normal life. Treatments will be over before you know it. Keep a positive attitude. You are stronger than you could ever imagine!!!

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