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Chemo options for colon cancer

JADot's picture
JADot
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Hello! I am a newbie here. I'm a female and 39 years old. I Was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer last week, the day after Christmas. I've had surgery and the most amazing recovery since then.

After I've gone through the crying fits I am beginning to count my blessings - I have the most supportive husband and family, access to the best doctors and medicine there is in the world, the fact that my cancer did not spread beyond the colon. I am ready to beat this thing, to live and to thrive!

Now I am researching different chemo therapy options. When I was in the hospital stil all foggy from the surgery, I remember the oncologist said she'd recommend some new drug from Europe which I would take (via IV) every two weeks for six months. I also remember she said this drug does not make one's hair fall out but does mess up your heat/cold sensory temporarily. I didn't ask the name of it. Any of you familiar with this drug?

I would be very grateful to get any first hand info on chemo options for colon cancer and side affects.

This is a great forum and I can see that it will be a source of information and strengh for me in the months to come as I go through my chemo therapy. Thanks you!

sam991
Posts: 16
Joined: Nov 2004

I would guess this is a drug call oxaliplatin which is often used in combination with two old standby drugs in a regimen called FOLFOX (I'm just citing my experience here not pretending to be an oncologist).
If you had no known signs of cancer outside the colon then the doc is presumably talking about what they call adjuvant therapy. Adjuvant sort of means "just in case" because cancer cells are microscopic and there *could* be some hiding in your system not detected.
My experience with oxaliplatin was my two week infusions would produce cold sensitivity (touching ice would be like an electrical shock), numbness and some pain in hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy) which gradually got worse during the 6 months but went away at the end. Unfortunately the numbness came back after a month and still remains after 9 months. Your response may be different because of your age though as I am 67 and possibly damaged my nerves with alcohol/cigs back in the good old days. Ask the oncologist about getting IVs of calcium and magnesium before and after the oxaliplatin as this is thought to help (maybe) with the neuropathy. Monitor yourself closely and if things get too bad too fast perhaps they can pause the therapy or cut the dosage.
Overall I didn't have severe reactions to chemotherapy while it was going on just constipation, mild nausea, tiredness, and neuropathy.
In case you don't know chemotherapy is as I understand it based on the idea that cancer cells are fast growing and thus absorb more from the bloodstream than normal cells. Chemo then basically pumps poison into you which is more easily absorbed by the fast growing cancer cells. Unfortunately your immune system (red and white blood cells and platelets) are also fast growing as is most of your digestive system, hair follicles etc, so they tend to be damaged by the chemo. They give you two weeks to recover and then do it again. Much more complex than that of course and different drugs have different side effects and different people have differing reactions.
The oxaliplatin doseage I had for adjuvant therapy was 85mg/square meter so you might ask about the doseage appropriate for your case. From what I read you are in good shape with survival rates very high for diagnoses like yours. Again these are my amateur experiences and sorry if you already knew most of this. Hang in there.

kangatoo's picture
kangatoo
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hiya JA and welcome to our "family". Sam has pretty much covered the chemo stuff, a pretty good answer. Just for a little more comfort and encouragement I can tell you that I was stage 2, surgery descending/sigmoid resection and did 6 months adjuvant chemo of 5fu/leucovorin here in OZ.Oxaiplatin was not available to us back then. I was told that chemo is almost always given for stage 2 here although one can refuse it...my oncologist pretty much told me,"you are going to have it!"
Now the good part JA....I am now almst 2 years NED(no evidence disease), feeling really great at this time, but took a while to get to the "great" stage. Tuesday will be a bit of a worry for me as I have a follow up CT scheduled but the worry part is normal for all of us at test time I think.
You seem to have a great attitude...keep that going.....and yup----you can cry sometimes too...we are all here to listen and support you.
All the best from oz, Ross and Jen

HowardJ
Posts: 484
Joined: Jan 2005

Hi JADot,

Welcome to the semi-colons. I'm also stage 2 (2a) and had surgery 1 year ago. Sounds like you're in the information gathering stage and there is good info on the web. The ACS web has information on treatment options and decision trees. The NCI website also has very good information. I did not have chemo so can't give any first hand experience. There are, however, several treatment regimens involving various combinations of chemo with differing adverse event profiles. The best thing you can do at this point is do your research and ask questions of your oncologist.

Good luck!

Howard

spongebob's picture
spongebob
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

Welcome to the semi-colons, JADot!

My colleagues have hit the nail on the head with regard to chemo.

Be well, be happy and be blessed!

- SpongeBob

JADot's picture
JADot
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Semi-colons! You guys are too funny! Had to hold my stomach to laugh so I don't bust any stiches :)

Thank you so much for all the info. Certainly give me many ideas and topics to discuss with the oncologists next time I met him and her. Still trying to pick one between a Stanford doc and a UCSF doc.

Ross and Jen - I love Australia! My husband is Australian and we went there twice in 2005 to Brisbane for fertility treatments. We had the greatest fertility specialist, who's like the Nick Dundee of doctors, with white shirt, white shorts and white socks pulled up to his knee caps. What a riot he was. Alas I only gave birth to a couple of tumors at the end. But we relished every minute we had in Australia. I got to cuddle a wombat and feed an elephant.

Also, best of luck with your scan on Tuesday. I'll try to beam some good vibes to you there in oz.

Thanks again my new "family"!!!

Jenny Any Dot

StacyGleaso's picture
StacyGleaso
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mar 2003

I must chime in....Kanga hugs wombats and feeds elephants but only after downing a couple of Fosters!

Love ya, Kanga!

On the chemo note....I had 5 FU, Camptosar and Leuvocorin (SP?). I had no side effects. I thought they gave me a placebo, but honestly, nothing to speak of. You'll do just fine!

Keep us updated,
Stacy

kangatoo's picture
kangatoo
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

m...another Jenny! That is almost as common as smith and jones! Hell yeah Jen...sometimes we gotta laugh too. Bob is tha stalwart of laughterland here and occassionally I try and emulate him but usually fail dismally.
As you can see Howard is another stage 2'er and he is doin ok too so Jenny..don't go beating your brain against the wall worrying your butt off(pun intended). Course a little worry can be acceptable and when that happens just call in.
OWYAGOIN JEN'S HUBBY FROM ORSTRALIA! Struth!..another ozzie!By the way Jenny...the name was "MICK" Dundee and he married a yank!...lol!
Stacy, geez gal.yu got it all wrong babe...I am a scotch n dry man in moderation, spend more time huggin Jen and feedin Tessie(my kitty) than wombats n elephants.
Oh....and the correct spellin is leucovorin Stacy...he! he!

JADot's picture
JADot
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Oooh, sorry, I meant Mick Dundee :)

Love all ya ozzies!

I finally read my pathologist's report and found out that I have the rare signet-ring cell carcinoma. Looking over all the stuff on the Internet, the prognosis seems really grim. I'll start a separate topic on this in the hope of find ing some survivor on the CSN to give me some hope.

Thanks you guys for responding to my post. You've definitely brightened my day!

StacyGleaso's picture
StacyGleaso
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mar 2003

Hey, DON'T let things you read on the 'net get you down. I was a stage 4, over 4 yrs ago....been clear ever since. Mine spread to my liver. You will find SO many success stories here to make you see that prognosis stats are ridiculous, and everyone is different. We are people, NOT numbers! It'll be ok!

Stacy

terril
Posts: 297
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi JADot
Remember this...there are some uncredible people here who will help you through this. Believe me...I went through the shock of a recurrence and I was given so much hope. Bless you. Think positive!

terril
Posts: 297
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Stacy!!!
When you were on camposar, did you lose your hair? I was told this chemo does this. Thanks!!! Terri

StacyGleaso's picture
StacyGleaso
Posts: 1249
Joined: Mar 2003

Nope, didn't lose my hair. It thinned out, but I had a ton to begin with. If you didn't know me, you wouldn't have known any different. I was prepared if it did all go....I figured hair could grow back, I couldn't!

Take care,
Stacy

2bhealed's picture
2bhealed
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

hello JADot,

Being a Stage 2 I am assuming they removed the tumor and are now recommending adjuvant chemo?

At the Mayo Clinic (a very prestigious medical center in Rochester, MN) they do not recommend chemo for stage 2 so you may want to go for a second opinion.

"In Dukes B colon cancer (***which I believe is now called Stage 2), ......nearly half of the deaths are due to causes other than cancer."
"For this reason, even the NCI says that adjuvant chemotherapy should not only NOT be routinely recommended but 'should be offered...only in the context of a clinical trial.'"

.....from Questioning Chemotherapy by Dr. Ralph Moss.

5-FU is the cytotoxic agent--fluorouracil-- and leucovorin is a "rescue factor" that facilitates higher doses of the cytotoxic agent. There are all sorts of "cocktails" that they cook up. This is usually the base from which they work.

I was Stage 3 lymph pos zero mets colon cancer and they recommended adjuvant chemo of 5-FU and leucovorin....

i declined and instead used Eastern Medicine healing modalities and after 4+ years I am CANCER FREE and having a blast!

I healed my body (after having a successful resection when they removed my tumor) with diet and juicing and supplements and herbs and massage and acupuncture and yoga and a TON of prayer. Thank you Jesus! :-)

Never once was I hospitalized for diarrhea or vomitting, nor did I lose any hair, nor did I lose any feeling in hands and feet nor do I have a problem with hot and cold things nor do I fear secondary cancers from the chemo nor do I fear any damage to my vital organs from the chemo. I do not have to take a cornucopia of pain pills or sleeping pills or anti nausea ;pills or anti diarrhea pills. My only symptoms of this path is that I turned orange from all the carrot juice (and I look tan really, not orange) and I have a ton of energy and vibrancy.

I lost a sister to intestinal cancer 13 years ago so when I got my own dx of colon cancer I decided that I was not going to go through all the HELL she went through and then die anyway. I was going to heal my body rather than throw it into a battlefield of cytotoxic poisons. No thank you.

So just know that YOU HAVE A CHOICE and it doesn't have to include chemo. But choosing not to do chemo doesn't mean you do nothing.

Cancer feeds on sugar. You could start by starving the cancer and get off any kind of sugar.

Cancer cannot live in an alkaline body. Educate yourself on what creates an acidic environment in your body and then stay away from it (sugar, cocoa, beer, antibiotics, processed cheese, Ice cream, beef, fried foods, psychotropic drugs etc).

I was 39 at my dx. What a shock! But there is life after a cancer dx!!

And I know all about those crying fits! :-)

I wish you all the best.

peace, emily the juicing queen ;-)

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