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??? about husband's treatment

pepperdog's picture
Posts: 96
Joined: Jun 2006

I am new & have many questions regarding my husband's treatment. He was diagnosed Stage III, N0, rectal cancer. Had 25 radiation treatments & 6 weeks oral Xeloda. 6 wks later surgery to resect rectum & was left w/temporary ileostomy. The tumor was gone & nothing in nodes, and oncologist left decision to us regarding post-op chemo, but said it was a good thing to cut chance of recurrance. Since presurgery rad/chemo was done, he said nodes could have been involved but maybe were sterilized from the treatments. (PET scan before treatments started showed nothing in nodes.)

The surgery was 9 wks ago, he has had 1 drip chemo with 11 more to go. He takes 2 decadron & 2 kytril prior to treatment. Drip is fluorouracil/oxaliplatin/leucovorin during a 48 hour cycle, with pump coming off on 3rd day. Has had some nausea at home after treatment, but not severe. He has rx for compazine and kytril @ home if needed. He had some neuropathy of mouth for first 2-3 days after the treatment.

What can we expect for side effects and any helpful hints ANYONE can offer concerning diet. I am confused about juicing, sugar fasting, etc. (He loves sugar.) The ileostomy causes an additional problem due to some foods moving through so fast, though we have learned to avoid many veggies and dairy products. Ileostomy was to be reversed in July, but now they're hedging saying it may need to wait until after chemo finishes. On top of all this, he has a heart condition (55 years old) so I worry about all the drugs. HELP! Please let me hear any suggestions to get us through this. Thanks.

JADot's picture
Posts: 720
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Pepperdog:

I wish we could have met under different circumstances and all we had to discuss is global warming. But hey, when a loved one needs info, help and support in their fight against cancer, this board is a true life line. Welcome to our on-line family.

Another thing - your husband is so lucky to have such a caring a resourceful caregiver in you. You caregivers are really the wind beneath us survivors' wings.

Re: diet, a really good and comprehensive source of information is Patrick Quillin's book "Fighting Cancer with Nutrition", which you can get from Amazon. My other personal favor is Dr. Andrew Weil's "Spontaneous Healing". Quillin's book talks about sugar and much much more. I strongly recommend that get hold of a copy so you can get all the info and not just spotty anecdotes.

And food for you mind, since attitude is everything - my all time favorite book is Lance Armstrong's book titled "It's not About the Bike".

About side effects, please keep in mind that same drugs can cause wildly differet side effects on different people, so please don't be alarmed and feel that your husband will get the aggregate of what everybody else gets.

My side effects are as follows:
1. Decadron has steroids in it, so I got very hyper on it and usually couldn't sleep for 2 day after the treatment. It also made my heart rate and blood pressure rise. The no sleep bit bothered me because for a strong immune system you need a lot of sleep. After 2 rounds of it, I declined the Decadron and chose to throw up instead, which, while unpleasant, I felt was the lesser of the two evil.

2. Kytril gave me terrible constipation. After trying out every folk rememdy in the book to get things going, I asked for an alternative, something called Anzemet, and it works great for me.

3. The Oxaliplatin gave me strong nausea and neuropathy. The big things are tingle fingers, cold sensitivity in hands, feet and back of the throat. Couldn't drink anything cold. What helped me was 200mg of B-6 daily.

4. The 5FU/Leucovorin pump was reall annoying to me becuase you're tether to it for a long time. The strongest side effects happens usually 24-48 hours after you're hooked up. That's when I threw up the most.

5. Other symptoms are fatigue, chemo-brain, changed taste, lack of appetite. The appetite thing can be really tough on caretakers because sometimes the patient's body doesn't want to eat the food that their brain asks for, and one's spouse has made. Please understand him when that happens. My taste got really strang on chemo. So many time I craved something, cooked it, and then ate no more than a bite. That said, other times I would eat huge amount of stuff to the collective amusement of my entire family. To be able to eat well while on chemo is THE most important thing. Our bodies cannot heal when it's not given the tools to work with. Our immune system, blood and nerves, everything is made from protein. Having enought high quality protein is really really critical. Try free-range organic chicken breast for that.

That's about it. It's not easy but also not impossible. Your husband will get through it with support from you, and us!

Hope this helps, and best of luck to you and your husband!


lfondots63's picture
Posts: 822
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Pepperdog,

I agree with what JADot has said. Also try to keep some things around that are soft on the tummy if he is feeling sick. I hit the pretzels to help that. I also have used green tea. It is up to the person. My premeds are different. I get zofran for the nausea and benedryll for the alergic reaction to Oxiplatin. Keep on hand immodium (even in your pocket book when you go out) and some senekot for constipation. I have both around because my bowels go back and forth. Also have some things he thinks sounds good for those days he just doesn't feel like eating. Make sure he drinks a lot of water too. That flushes out the chemo and keeps him hydrated which is a cancer patients biggest problem next to nutrition. Like JADot I'm sorry we had to meet this way but I'm glad you found us. Also the chat has been a big help to me. There are all types of people with all types of cancer but it is nice to talk to someone that has "been there, done that" when you are searching for answers. I'm on treatment 8 right now and have 4 more to go. Stage 3, n1. HUGS and everyone is different. If you ever have questions, you can e-mail people here to or post. Take care and come back often with any questions.


Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2006

We seem to share the same story. My husband was diagnosed with stage3 rectal cancer in September and had the same treatment. His ileostomy reversal was done in June and we are dealing with that. Eating healthy was and is a problem because of side effects. I did encourage my husband to eat organically when possible and to avoid dairy, veggies, fruits, nuts and anything that was hard to digest. He enjoyed eating pasta, soups, bread and some proteins. I tried protein drinks, bars and would get him whatever he wanted. He enjoyed potatoe chips and pretzels for awhile. He stayed away from sodas because of the gas. Be kind to yourself and remember to take a breather once in awhile. You are not alone and there are more of us out there stuggeling to get through. We are considering seeing a nutritionist. Joe lost 40 pounds (looks great) but I worry about the loss of muscle. Joe's reversal was after chemo ended. It was about 2 weeks to the date. The surgery was not a problem and much easier than the original surgery. Stay strong!!


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