Fatigue/Nausea

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Jen28
Jen28 Member Posts: 45
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
Hi to everyone on this board--I've been reading your posts for a bit and you seem like a great group. In October, I was diagnosed with sigmoid colon cancer in October, had resection surgery and the cancer was staged at IIIA (3/15 positive lymph nodes). (I'm 28, a vegetarian and in good physical shape with no family history of colon cancer, so the diagnosis was a shock to me.) I started Folfox this past Friday. The side effects weren't terrible--fatigue, nausea and some mild sensitivity to cold. The nausea and cold sensitivity are gone now, but I'm still really tired. I'm an attorney and am planning to work four day weeks through chemo (taking off the Fridays that I get chemo and the Mondays after). Does anyone have any advice or tips on dealing with (working through) fatigue?

Also, I'd like to be better prepared food-wise for my next chemo treatment on the 16th. I had a hard time finding foods that I thought would sit well with me due to the nausea. Are there any foods that you found easy to tolerate?

Thanks,
Jen

Comments

  • nanuk
    nanuk Member Posts: 1,358 Member
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    I found anti-acids helpful, also Ativan-(SP) for my nausea during Folfox, but it can make you drowsy. Also, Root Beer-(flat) helped. so far as the diet, it varies so much with the individual, it's difficult to say what works; I found that lighter foods, such as soups, yogurt, and fruits,plus plenty of liquids-water, fruit juice,
    gatorade, etc seemed to be tolerated better. Hydration is very important-keep water with you all the time.Ask the nurse/doctor if they have any
    diet suggestions-there is usually some expertise availble. Nanuk
  • Kanort
    Kanort Member Posts: 1,272 Member
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    Hi Jen,

    I am sorry for your diagnosis, but happy that you found our group.

    I also had sigmoid cancer with 3/31 positive lymph nodes. My resection was October 15, 2003, and I have been cancer free since completing Folfox in July of 04.

    I battled the nausea and the fatigue as well. I didn't work while I was in treatment, but I do admire you for doing so. Many others here have been able to complete their full cycles while missing only a few days of work.

    For some reason, I craved graham crackers after my treatments. They seemed to be soothing and didn't upset my stomach. I know they are probably not the healthiest choice, but they did keep my nausea at bay. Also, sugar free lemon drops gave me some comfort as well.

    I have read an article that MD Anderson is offering Ritalin to some cancer patients to combat the fatigue. Apparently it has been successful. Perhaps this is something you could discuss with your oncologist.

    The sensitivity to cold seems to increase with each treatment so be careful about drinking anything cold after your infusion.

    You will do fine, Jen. Just think you already have one treatment behind you! Keep us posted on your progress.

    Kay
  • CAMaura
    CAMaura Member Posts: 719 Member
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    Hi Jen,
    I think I remember mashed potatoes setting pretty well, and comfort-food-type things....but I also found that the less refined, the better my system like it: whole grain breads and pastas, salads and less-cooked vegetables.
    I really hate to tell you that the tiredness will prevail during this fun regime. But there is an endpoint!! As for working, I would really look at limiting things.....but some work might help you feel more normal. My doc forbid everything for me -- working and grad school -- but Folfox hit me like a freight train, so I am glad that he made decisions for me. All the best to you and do ask around. It is really hard to be accepting something into our system which we know will make us feel strange and poorly....and yet we still aren't sure of the full extent. Take care and all the best to you -- Maura
  • chynabear
    chynabear Member Posts: 481 Member
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    CAMaura said:

    Hi Jen,
    I think I remember mashed potatoes setting pretty well, and comfort-food-type things....but I also found that the less refined, the better my system like it: whole grain breads and pastas, salads and less-cooked vegetables.
    I really hate to tell you that the tiredness will prevail during this fun regime. But there is an endpoint!! As for working, I would really look at limiting things.....but some work might help you feel more normal. My doc forbid everything for me -- working and grad school -- but Folfox hit me like a freight train, so I am glad that he made decisions for me. All the best to you and do ask around. It is really hard to be accepting something into our system which we know will make us feel strange and poorly....and yet we still aren't sure of the full extent. Take care and all the best to you -- Maura

    Hi Jen,

    I was diagnosed in Oct 2004 with Stage III Colon Cancer to the Sigmoid Colon the day after my 27th birthday.

    I didn't work during treatment as my family was going through a transition and I was able to stay at my in-laws with my little girl who was one year at the time. I admire you for being able to work.

    I know it's said that everyone responds to treatment differently, I also responded to each individual treatment differently. I was more fatigued on some treatments than others. I had some nausea with some. My Onc prescribed two types of nausea meds that helped. One was for mind nausea and not very expensive. The other was for severe nausea and about $1.50 a pill. I didn't have to take much of the medicine, thankfully.

    For foods, broth and chicken noodle soup seemed to help me. Also, crackers, yogurt, and a morning shake recommended by my home nurse:

    1 handful of almonds + 2 Tbs flaxseed
    blend with 1 Cup of water until a milky consistancy.

    add 1 banana, 1 apple, 1 slice of cantelope (or melon), 2 Tbs Oatmeal, and a few frozen berries.

    Blend well.

    I know you mentioned that you were a vegetarian so I'm not sure how you feel about having broth.

    There is a book called, "Beating Cancer with Nutrition" by Dr. Patrick Quillin which has some great recipies for a diet during chemotherapy and beyond. There is a shake called the "Dragon Slayer Shake" that might be worth taking a look at.

    Take care and come back as often as you need.

    Patricia
  • scouty
    scouty Member Posts: 1,965 Member
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    Hi Jen,

    So sorry you have to be here with us but you did find a wonderful group of people. I did folfox with avastin for 8 months and the beginning was by far the easiest. I found eating a really good meal the night and morning before treatment really helped me the most. I also took food with me to my treatments. I drank a gallon of water the day before, day of, and the days after chemo. Protein and starches seemed to hold the nausea at bay. I lived off oatmeal for one month, then grits. Dairy products really bothered me, as did anything greasy (butter and olive oil included). I remember having to force myself to eat whether I wanted to or not. There were times when nothing in my cabinets or fridge felt right to eat, but I would make myself find something. I also found that scratching and sniffing a lemon helped with the nausea. Find you own way, experiment, but bottom line, keep stuff in your tummy to soak up the nasty poisons right before, during, and right after your treatments. If you don't, YOU WILL GET SICK.

    Lean towards bland type foods. I found that keeping myself from getting nauseous was the key. Once you feel it, it is hard to turn around. I will also share with you that once the nausea hits, you should lay down in the dark and let it pass. With you working that may be difficult.

    I totally agree with Maura about working. My job was my life (bad me), until I got cancer. I worked the first 4 months of my chemo treatments and did the worst work I have ever done in my life and regret it now. My job was very challenging and extremely stressful. You are much younger then I was (I was 49) so you may be able to juggle both but at what cost to you and your health??????

    I was stage IV with mets to my liver and one lung. I never was able to have surgery, so chemo was it. I did it for 8 months and eventually felt like it was killing me so I found a local naturopathic doctor, completly changed my diet and other lifestyle things (like work), took lots of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements and am now NED (no evidence of disease) with no cancer surgeries!!!!!!!!!

    If you want to know more, send me an email here and I will be more then happy to help.

    Take care of yourself, but more importantly, take special care of yourself. You deserve it and personally, I think your body will thank you in the long run and help you fight the ****.

    Lisa P.
  • taraHK
    taraHK Member Posts: 1,952 Member
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    Hi Jen and welcome,
    I have finished 11 rounds of FOLFOX - one more to go! I have worked throughout my chemo (other than the chemo days). But I am a university teacher, and have a fairly flexible schedule -- and my colleagues kindly negotiated a light teaching load for me this semester. I found the fatigue got significantly worse after round 9 or 10. I now have to leave the office at around 4pm and go home for a nap or lie-down every day. But, that is OK.
    Nausea: make sure you are getting good anti-nausea meds (before, during and after the chemo). I tried a variety before settling on best for me. I chew on candied ginger.
    Eating: at this stage of my chemo, I eat whatever I can tolerate during the chemo days. Which is getting harder. I tend to loose about 3-4 pounds each cycle -- but then put it on again before the next cycle (that is the fun part!). I agree with other that blander foods sit better. Soups. Whole-wheat crackers. Almonds.
    One other thing on the fatigue: I'm sure your white blood cell count is being monitored -- that can be a factor with fatigue. I had problems with my WBC during FOLFOX and am taking Neupogen to boost -- which is working well for me.
    Good luck and please keep in touch
    Tara
  • Jen28
    Jen28 Member Posts: 45
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    Thank you all for your advice regarding the fatigue and foods. I'm going to try to stock up on some easy to tolerate foods (using your suggestions) this weekend.

    With the fatigue issue, I've realized that, at a minimum, I'm not going to be able to do as much at work as I've been used to doing, and am going to need more flexibility. I am single and support myself, so it would be a bit of a challenge for me to take a leave of absence during chemo, but I'm going to look into my disability coverage and am going to think about it. I'd like to wait until January to make a decision about it (because I'll be eligible to take leave under FMLA in January). Depending on how I feel after my next two treatments (and I'm guessing the fatigue will just get worse), I may switch to working half time (taking the week right after chemo off) or taking a leave of absence.

    I get a blood draw tomorrow, so I should find out tomorrow if lowered blood counts are causing the fatigue. The idea of taking ritalin for fatigue is also really interesting--I think I'm going to ask my oncologist about it next week.

    Jen
  • jeanl
    jeanl Member Posts: 7
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    Working through treatment can be done but you do have to monitor yourself. I am a nurse working on a fulltime basis on an oncology unit and managed to work fulltime while taking the treatments - had a lot of early evenings but missed very few days (did have an infected port that put me out of commission for a few days.)Nausea wasn't much and learned to cope with the limitations on cold. I even managed to fit in a seven day cruise. Lots of rest when I could and a decent diet got me through. I was diagnosed Dec 31, 2003 as stage 3C and currently NED. Tomorrow finally get my mediport out - hurray. Good luck with the treatments - lots of rest and lots of fluids. As others say experiment to find what is best for you. Jean
  • alharkabus
    alharkabus Member Posts: 9
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    Jen28 said:

    Thank you all for your advice regarding the fatigue and foods. I'm going to try to stock up on some easy to tolerate foods (using your suggestions) this weekend.

    With the fatigue issue, I've realized that, at a minimum, I'm not going to be able to do as much at work as I've been used to doing, and am going to need more flexibility. I am single and support myself, so it would be a bit of a challenge for me to take a leave of absence during chemo, but I'm going to look into my disability coverage and am going to think about it. I'd like to wait until January to make a decision about it (because I'll be eligible to take leave under FMLA in January). Depending on how I feel after my next two treatments (and I'm guessing the fatigue will just get worse), I may switch to working half time (taking the week right after chemo off) or taking a leave of absence.

    I get a blood draw tomorrow, so I should find out tomorrow if lowered blood counts are causing the fatigue. The idea of taking ritalin for fatigue is also really interesting--I think I'm going to ask my oncologist about it next week.

    Jen

    I had 7 rounds of Folfox, then the side effects got tougher (tingling in hands and feet, very seriously) and now I am on Folfiri. I worked for 18 months of chemo (I am stage 4 and have no choice but to continue treatments) and now am on permanent disability. I am 59 and the disability policy is good, so no problems there. If you can "somehow" manage to not work the fatigue will be dramatically reduced. It happened to me, anyway, retiring was the best decision I have made. Hope this helps, Email me if you need more info.
  • Moesimo
    Moesimo Member Posts: 1,072 Member
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    Jen,

    I remember how tired I was during my preop chemo and rad. treatments. I was able to work full time, but I did not do much else. I had groceries delivered and my family pitched in more. I am a nurse and my coworkers were great. I wanted to save my time off for the surgery. For me it was good to work, it kept my mind occupied during a very difficult time. If I had been home, I would have cried way too much. I realize it is such an individual decision, but I am glad that I was able to work.

    Good luck and keep us posted. Also take any offers of help.

    I drank alot of gatorade and ate tons of jello. (I may never eat jello again.) lol

    Maureen
  • valleygirl559
    valleygirl559 Member Posts: 2
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    scouty said:

    Hi Jen,

    So sorry you have to be here with us but you did find a wonderful group of people. I did folfox with avastin for 8 months and the beginning was by far the easiest. I found eating a really good meal the night and morning before treatment really helped me the most. I also took food with me to my treatments. I drank a gallon of water the day before, day of, and the days after chemo. Protein and starches seemed to hold the nausea at bay. I lived off oatmeal for one month, then grits. Dairy products really bothered me, as did anything greasy (butter and olive oil included). I remember having to force myself to eat whether I wanted to or not. There were times when nothing in my cabinets or fridge felt right to eat, but I would make myself find something. I also found that scratching and sniffing a lemon helped with the nausea. Find you own way, experiment, but bottom line, keep stuff in your tummy to soak up the nasty poisons right before, during, and right after your treatments. If you don't, YOU WILL GET SICK.

    Lean towards bland type foods. I found that keeping myself from getting nauseous was the key. Once you feel it, it is hard to turn around. I will also share with you that once the nausea hits, you should lay down in the dark and let it pass. With you working that may be difficult.

    I totally agree with Maura about working. My job was my life (bad me), until I got cancer. I worked the first 4 months of my chemo treatments and did the worst work I have ever done in my life and regret it now. My job was very challenging and extremely stressful. You are much younger then I was (I was 49) so you may be able to juggle both but at what cost to you and your health??????

    I was stage IV with mets to my liver and one lung. I never was able to have surgery, so chemo was it. I did it for 8 months and eventually felt like it was killing me so I found a local naturopathic doctor, completly changed my diet and other lifestyle things (like work), took lots of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements and am now NED (no evidence of disease) with no cancer surgeries!!!!!!!!!

    If you want to know more, send me an email here and I will be more then happy to help.

    Take care of yourself, but more importantly, take special care of yourself. You deserve it and personally, I think your body will thank you in the long run and help you fight the ****.

    Lisa P.

    Hello, I was reading and you

    Hello, I was reading and you state that you found a naturopathic doctor and made changes in your life?? Did you stop the chemo??Or did you continue taking it?? Thank you..

  • NewHere
    NewHere Member Posts: 1,427 Member
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    Hello, I was reading and you

    Hello, I was reading and you state that you found a naturopathic doctor and made changes in your life?? Did you stop the chemo??Or did you continue taking it?? Thank you..

    This Thread Is Has Not Been Posted To In 12 Years

    Hi Valley Girl, welcome to the board, sorry you have to be here though.

    This thread is almost 12 years old, with the last post made in December 2005.  You probably will be better off starting a new thread, introducing yourself and asking specific questions.  The person starting this thread has not posted on the board since 2008.  In fact many have not posted in many years on this board.  They either have moved on or have passed away.