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Chemo and radiation

Posts: 4
Joined: Feb 2003

Hi...my husband has just been diagnosed with colorectal cancer which has spread into the prostate. Quite advanced. They are going to start next week to give him five weeks of combined chemo and radiation, and then they hope it will have shrunk enough to be operable. I read awful things about the effect these two together will have on him....obviously they are bad enough alone. I would appreciate any advice about what we should expect and anything we might do to make the situation easier, if possible. Will we be able to handle it ourselves? The literature I read talks about social workers and dietitions. But the oncologist and radiologist have said nothing about this. I'm worried about whether I can handle it alone if he has a serious reaction. I'm no coward....but this sounds as though things might happen when least expected that I won't know what to do about at all! I would welcome any suggestions or information. Thank you. swantia

wildcat's picture
Posts: 40
Joined: Apr 2002

I had the duel treatment. It is very much bearable. You feel like you have the flu most of the time. You keep you little buddy with you wherever you go but you just LIVE with it. It does work and I hope and pray it works for your husband as well.

Posts: 19
Joined: May 2002

Speaking from personal experience, the chemo/radiation is very doable. However, everyone is different in how they deal with it, and it also depends on where the tumor is located. (I had a 10 c.m. tumor located in my rectum. As I got into the 4th-5th week of the combined treatment, it got tough as the radiation and chemo inflamed that area and "stuff" couldn't get through).

Since the protocol for me was to take in a lot of calories during treatment, they modified my food intake and gave me a choice to stop treatment or continue for the final two weeks. With a change in diet and more liquids, I decided to finish and it wasn't too bad. That was my experience.

From what I've learned from my oncologist, it truly is an individual thing. Some people have a tougher time getting through it. I don't know how old your husband is. . .but assume he's older than me. (I'm now 45). I think getting through the treatment is very important for the best possible outcome. If they can kill the cancer through radiation/chemo now, your odds of long-term survival are better.

I was fortunate enough to make contact with someone in the same situation as I, except he was about six months further along in treatment. It really helps to talk with a non-medical person who has first-hand experience in dealing with cancer and the treatment. I encourage you to talk with your medical team and ask if there is someone who has been through the same thing that can be a support for you. Hopefully, you'll be able to get someone who is very frank about the impact it will have on him.

The people working in cancer treatment have got it down pretty well. I felt I was given excellent treatment and I trusted them with my life. Don't be fearful of asking them questions. Go with your husband to all of his appointments if you can, and take notes for him.

I hope you all can get through this ok.


Posts: 7
Joined: Feb 2005

I was dx in Oct. 2004 with Stage 4 colorectal cancer & mets liver. I have endured 7 chemo treatments with very few side effects, other than the fatigue.
After the last chemo series, I developed inflamation and swelling in my rectum, which is very painful during a BM. My onc prescribed antibiotics and suppositores, but nothing has helped. Surgery has been postponed until my mets liver is under control. Do you have any recommendations or suggestions?

Posts: 16
Joined: Mar 2001

I wore my pump for delivery of my 5FU all during the 6 weeks of radiation. You certainly don't feel your best - probably closer to your worst, but at least you are doing SOMETHING to get better! As a former Registered Dietitian, I would recommend trying Ensure to supplement your husband's weak appetite. I preferred some good ole mashed potatoes as a REAL food.

Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 2003

I'm fully recovered from colorectal cancer surgery and treatment in Oct. '99. Certainly, it was no picnic but it is bearable. It's taken a couple of years to get back to "normal" elimination, but I was assured by my oncologist that it would happen. Chemotherapy seems like mumbo-jumbo at the onset of treatment, but it must have worked for me. Keep your chin up and your disposable pullups handy.

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