Chemo Question...

JC F Member Posts: 74

Please excuse my naivety but I am new to this cancer game and it's a game I really hate playing. I am scheduled to begin my full course of 35 rads and 3 chemos (cisplatin, which I've heard called "the raging bull") in two weeks to the day on Wednesday, July 2. I'm very well aware that everyone is different to how they react to everything in this nightmare, but as a general rule, if I have the first chemo and first rad done on that Wednesday will I be in any shape to work the next day on that Thursday with the rad fit in on that day, and then will I be able to work on that Friday, with the rad obviously once again fit in on that day, or will I probably be too nauseated and/or fatigued to work those days. Would the weekend help me to recover enough to perhaps work the following week?...would I be able to squeeze one more week of work in or even two or am I just dreaming in technicolor? I know this is all speculative, but I would appreciate any anecdotal info that any of you can provide...thanks...


  • rush1958
    rush1958 Member Posts: 223 Member

    Welcome to the site. Sorry you have to head down the road we've been, but it's worth it.

    Nausea was the big bug-a-boo for me from the chemo. That said, the first chemo wasn't too terribly bad for me. Round two of cisplatin a few weeks later landed the haumaker.

    As you noted, everyone is different. I found the radiation had an accumaltive effect. The first few weeks weren't really noticiable. After that, I had what appeared to be a sunburn. It didn't really hurt like a sunburn and probably looked worse than it felt.

    The radiation didn't really cause me too many problems. No sore throat, no pain killers needed, no difficulty swallowing and no major mucus problems. Fatigue got progessively worse as treatments went on, but that faded away after treatment stopped. The amifostine shots they gave me to protect the salivary glands were like getting an injection of the flu. I'd have chills and sweats.

    On the other hand, chemo sucked. Round one gave me heartburn and a little nausea. Round two caused nausea so bad that I wound up in the hospital for four days with IV's because I couldn't even hold water down. Round three wasn't as bad because we'd figured out the right nausea meds by then.

    Hope that helps.


  • corleone
    corleone Member Posts: 312 Member
    Everybody Experiences it Differently (cliché, but true)

    I had 2 cycles of cisplatin during concurrent radiation and chemo, every 3 weeks. Were supposed to be 3, but the 3rd was skipped, due to toxicity (hearing loss). The biggest problem I had was nausea. Other issues were hearing loss (this varies a lot, some don’t have any hearing related issues, except perhaps tinnitus), fatigue, heartburn, hiccups. Others (from this forum) experienced different set of side effects. If you read the side effects list from the internet or booklet you (might) receive prior to infusion, it will scare the hell out of you, but as I said, you will experience just a few of them. The important thing is that it works.

    Make sure you’ll be very well hydrated before the infusion (in my case that was done, with a 1 hour saline perfusion prior to cisplatin), because of kidney toxicity. Also ask the doctor if she/he can prescribe Emend (expensive, but worth it) for nausea.

    I doubt you’ll be able to work full capacity for the first 2-3 days after (each) infusion (what it takes for symptoms to subside), unless you are a bit lucky or very determined.

    The rads kick in after (average) 3 weeks; even then the most affected part will be your taste and dry mouth. Much later (last 2 weeks and  ~2 weeks AFTER radiation) you’ll get the full blown side effects.


  • debbiejeanne
    debbiejeanne Member Posts: 3,102 Member
    i only had rads so can't

    i only had rads so can't really comment but wanted to wish you the best of luck.  you have a good attitude and that's half the battle.  let us know how you do.

    God bless you,


  • CivilMatt
    CivilMatt Member Posts: 4,723 Member
    nah no blah

    JC F,

    Chances are the rads won’t impede your working during the first 3 weeks and if  you dodge the nausea the same for the chemo.  I am being very optimistic for you, for me, I liked sleeping in my recliner during treatments.

    Drink lots of water  and take the nausea drugs before you get sick and don’t forget about constipation from the nausea drugs.

    Good luck,


  • Jeff2159
    Jeff2159 Member Posts: 108
    Chemo Answer

    Everything that has been said is true. Raging Bull (never heard that term) knocked me on my rear session 2 and 3 and I too ended in hospital for dehydration. Prior to going to hospital I was sleeping in bathroom on a pile of towels. I can smile now for the old memories I just hope I dont have to relieve them as I start another session of it myself July 1. Been told since their is no rads this time it won't be as toxic. Constipation is a worry if you are pain meds and get dehydrated. After session 3 I ended in the emergency room 5 days later as I was backed up and I'll tell you, there is nothing worse. Anyhow your first few weeks should be ok and after all your treatments, plan on feeling not up to par for another month or two. good luck as it does get better-eventually

  • jim and i
    jim and i Member Posts: 1,788 Member
    As others said, nausea,

    As others said, nausea, constpation and a stint in hospital for dehydration were the side effects Jim suffered from day one of cisplatin. He also slept a lot during treatment. There are others, like Skiffin, who worked part time during treatment. I pray you have mild side effects and a speedy recovery.


  • fisrpotpe
    fisrpotpe Member Posts: 1,349 Member

    first couple weeks the rad's for most do not become a challenge. 

    several local people over the last 5-6 years have had to do the cisplatin. what the group has come up with is cisplatin hangs out the first day or two with mild nausea. the third day seems to be the take down day. so many have gone and got iv fluids on early day three. it sure has helped many. ciplatin seems to dehydrate many very quickly. several went back on day 5 go get iv fluids again. 

    good luck with the first week or two. 

    sorry you have to join the team of survivors


  • ErthWlkr
    ErthWlkr Member Posts: 60
    Chemo and radiation effects

    Hi JC -

    Been out of treatment nearly 7 years now - but can basically still recount my responses to treatment. I had 40 rounds of rads (1X per day for 4 weeks, 2X per day for 2 weeks) and 2 rounds of chemo/cisplatin. I had my PEG tube and first round of chemo on day 1 - then on day 2 had my first radiation treatment. My second round of chemo was 3 weeks in. I was supposed to have a 4th but my response to treatment went well so we put that aside.

    I was given medication to take during chemo and didn't have any nausea (I think it was Emend). In fact I didn't really feel any side effects from treatments until about three weeks in. Then the swallowing issues started and by the 4th week the fatigue set in. That was m worst side effect that lingered for quite some time.

    I worked from home for several months - for about one month after treatment was over all I did was sleep most of the time. It was about 5 months after treatment ended before I was working full time in the office again.

    Someone had mentioned constipation as an issue. Take that seriously. I was told to take Senekot and Colace and ignored the advice. The result wasn't pretty and quite embarrasing. Dehydration was also an issue which probably added to the constipation problem so keep up your nutrition AND your hydration.

    One thing cancer treatment teaches is that you can't be a passive patient. You need to actively stay on top of things and if possible, a supporting caregiver that will keep a close eye on you. My wife and kids were both after me to keep the calorie count up and always checking to see how many water bottles I had gone thru in a day.

    It takes time and attention but you do get thru. How quick the recovery is as dependent on your physical state prior as it is during treatment.

    Wishing you the best of health and an easy recovery!

    - Jeff

  • hlrowe
    hlrowe Member Posts: 80
    The rads won't bother you at

    The rads won't bother you at all the first week. The Cisplatin may depending on the dosage? I had 6 Cisplatin treatments (1 per wk at 50 mg/m2) and had zero nausea. If you are getting 100mg or > then it could cause it. You WILL start to feel fatigue eventually.

    I worked 20 hrs a week remoting in from home. I definitely felt better in the mornings vs the afternoons. Drove 60 mi round trip every day for rad treatments at 8 am.

    It is tough but you'll make it through. Just take it one day at a time and you will be NED before you know it!

  • LumpinmyThroat
    LumpinmyThroat Member Posts: 98
    Round One

    My husband just finished round one of chemo only and he said it wasn't as bad as he feared.  Nausea and acid reflux were his two main complaints.  He probably could have done a desk job throughout the process if he had to. 

  • Guzzle
    Guzzle Member Posts: 710

    Round One

    My husband just finished round one of chemo only and he said it wasn't as bad as he feared.  Nausea and acid reflux were his two main complaints.  He probably could have done a desk job throughout the process if he had to. 


    I have recently been through treatment and the advice about this above is sounds. Certain pain meds can make it worse and it can hinder getting food in but too much medication to counter can dehydrate. Work with your team on this. G

  • luv4lacrosse
    luv4lacrosse Member Posts: 1,410 Member
    It was hell for me

    I did the surgeries x 3 then 3 rounds of Cisplatin and bilateral neck rads for 30 days. The best advice I can give you, is to get a PEG tube either in advance, or as soon as you know you cannot get enough fluid and nutrition down orally. Everyone is different, I held out a month longer than I should have, but it saved my life.



  • Crazymom
    Crazymom Member Posts: 339 Member

    I had 6 weeks of Chemo   and with the nausea medicine I was ok.  I wish I had worked those weeks.  Then I had 6 weeks of radiation.  The radiation kicked my butt.  If you can get short term disability I would end work and concentrate on getting well.   Good luck...I have two years and am doing great.   Ann