Mosis50 Member Posts: 59
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I am a three-year survivor of breast cancer. After three years of ease, I developed lymphodema in my left arm. I had physical therapy for several months before deciding that it was getting no better (thankfully also no worse). About 10 days ago I had a sore place on my back. My cancer doctor said it might be just a pulled muscle and gave me an exercise regimen to do. Now, five days later I have a definite diagnosis. I have shingles and have gone to a doctor to get meds for it. I am wondering how much is known about the connection between cancer and shingles. I have read about the chicken pox virus and know that connection, but I wonder if this is a glimpse of things to come. Is this indicative of a suppressed immune system caused by more cancer in my body? Any information would be appreciated. Thank you!


  • 24242
    24242 Member Posts: 1,398
    I would say that supress immune system and stress would play a roll in the shingles developement. The immune system is supressed or comprimised when ill since trying to fight whatever it is inside of us. Our systems are comprimised due to the cancer or the treatments and other things become a bigger risk. I have heard and from my experience have found that some of us continue to have problems long after the cancer is gone. Side effects are many and often leave us with other things we must deal with after the treatments are long gone.
    I have some swelling but little in comparison to what others may suffer. I have found that physical activity probably has played the biggest roll in my mobility and full range of motion since my mastectomies. I can only hope that you are on the mend and can build that body up of yours.
    Be good to yourself always,
  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028
    More likely because you are older, have had either actual chicken pox or the vaccine as a kid. Shingles happen to non-cancer survivor aging adults. Unless your immune system (white cell counts, etc) never came back, I would not get too worried. BUT I would talk about your fears to your doc....your mind is a powerful tool!

    As far as the lymphodema....I got it in my 'special' breast....NOT the arm, just the breast...sigh...can't do ANYTHING right....

    Hugs, Kathi
  • inkblot
    inkblot Member Posts: 698
    Hi Moses,

    I'm so sorry to hear about your lymphedema.

    To my knowledge, while Shingles are more common with advanced age, they are not really uncommon in younger people either. Not to worry should respond well to one of the anti-viral meds your doc will likely prescribe. Just curious why your oncologist would send you to another doc for treatment, if he/she dx'd you? I know the condition can be extremely painful and a lot more is going on with Shingles than just what can be seen on the surface of the skin. With that in mind, it seems a lot for you, already in pain, to have to get booked with another doc and then go in for meds, etc..

    I have a little story about when my husband got Shingles when I was pregnant with our son, many years ago. My pregnancy was high risk and trust me, my husband worried enough for both of us! He was having to go out of town for business, perodically, and at the time his work was very demanding for several months and he was not sleeping as many hours/night as he should have either. He'd gotten a separate beeper and phone to keep in touch with me at all times, no matter where he was, night or day. When I was about 6 months along, he developed some soreness and tenderness along his rib cage on one side. Just thought he'd strained a muscle or something and really didin't think much about it. Several days later it was worse and hurt just to take a shower. Next day, he noticed some little blister type spots starting to appear and immediately went to his doctor. He came back home with a dx of Shingles, an antiviral and pain meds in hand. He wouldn't sleep in our bed or get too close to me until he was pretty much over it. He was petrified that I may "catch" it somehow. It responded quickly to the meds but he was very sore and tender on that side, from the base of the ribs to his neck and shoulder, for about 6 weeks. He was only in his 30's then, so age is not the only pre-disposing factor...stressed-out father's to be can get them too! LOL Cancer and treatment are major physical stressors, not to mention the emotional stress that we get, so that would certainly be conditions for it to appear.

    Hope that you're sleeping and eating well and making time for relaxation. Wondering also whether you're taking any supplements to help keep your immune system strong? Hope you're feeling much better really soon.

    Love, light and laughter,