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Questions on What is "normal" to feel like during Chemo

Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2007

I am a 71 year old woman who has been diagnosed with non-small cell cancer and has had my lower lobe of my right lung removed. I am going through my 2nd round of Chemo treatments, Cysplatnim(sp?) and am feeling like my head is in a bubble and am not quite as connected as I have been before Chemo. I am having difficulty sleeping inspite of medication and have no motivation. My question is does anyone else feel this way? I wake up at night with my heart pounding out of my chest and feel like I am going to die. I just want to hear from other people going through Chemo and what side effects you are experiencing. If this is all "normal" and expected then what advice do you have for me? I have family very close and am not alone, but still feel very alone.

MadelynJoe's picture
Posts: 96
Joined: Sep 2003

Dear Lizzy:

I am a 57 year old female 2 1/2 year nsclc survivor and I can sympathize with what you are going through. In May 2005, I had my lower right lobe removed because of a 2.8 cm tumor. I had chemo beginning in August 2005 (Gemzar and Taxotere).

I also felt like I was in a bubble with trouble thinking clearly and concentrating. We survivors refer to this as "chemo brain". It happened to just about all the survivors I know.

I also had problems sleeping even though I was prescribed Ambien. Some of that can be attributed to stress you are experiencing. I felt like the adrenalin was just rolling and my heart would race. Just roll with the flow and when you can't sleep, get up and read or get on the computer or do some other pleasant activity until you feel sleepy. Take naps during the day if you can't sleep at night. This time is all about you and getting you well, so be very, very good to yourself. Allow friends and family to do things for you, you don't have to do everything yourself.

I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Remember, you can beat this disease, just keep the faith.

All the best,


Greggriggs's picture
Posts: 132
Joined: Dec 2006

Lizzy .
I'm 66 had my left lung removed in 2006 .Had chemo Taxole an carboplatin. Yep My brain is still a little foggy. Chemo affects everyone different,it has a lot of side affects but a lot of them can be helped with Meds.
I still have trouble sleeping. But the best medicin I was prescribed was ativan it helps with the anxiety an makes me sleep . I had a lady from our church kinda save me. After the third round of chemo I was so sick I thought I was going to die. I ask her how she felt after the chemo an she told me there was not wrinkle on her that did not hurt. So I knew I was not alone and wasn't dying . Get lotsa rest, and you are not alone . There are a lot of us on your side. it is a hard thing because until you have been there you won't understand and it is hard to get off your mind but it does get better.
Prayers an God bless ya

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

No, I haven't been through chemo, but I'm a two time cancer survivor with both breast and lung cancer so I read a lot. One thing I was pleased to read last year was some research done on chemo brain. Ritalin, a drug designed to help kids with Attention Deficit Disorder, was helping some folks with chemo brain (a recognized condition where the brain can't focus). Yes, it is a real condition and sometimes drugs can help. Some folks need meds for depression, a clinical disorder that can set in when the cancer diagnosis hits. Yoga and cardio exercise (including walking) also help many folks. Coping with it by getting in the habit of writing everything down, simplifying your life, getting pill boxes for meds, letting folks know you need help, getting in naps, and stuff like that helps too. I managed to get memory problems for about a year or so(I forget how long!!!!)just on tamoxifen. Heaven help us if and when I go on chemo! My whole family had to pitch in just to get me out the door in the morning with all my stuff and the keys in hand. I still work and remembering one-time appointments was the hardest. Fortunately the folks at work helped a lot and reminded me that we're all human and need help to get by. Some days I needed more help than others. Fortunately I'm some better now which may be because I'm off the tamoxifen, but for a while there I was dead set on getting my doctor to prescribe the Ritalin. (Coffee may work in somewhat the same way, but ask your doctor before you self-medicate!) Good luck!

Plymouthean's picture
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi Lizzy.
I'm a 6 year survivor of NSCLC, 3b. I was 67 years old at diagnosis, deemed inoperable/incurable. I was treated with Cisplatin/Etoposide chemo,(three rounds) and 55 radiation treatments. I'm six years out from surgery to remove the tumor, along with the top 40% of my right lung.
Be assured that everything you are experiencing is normal, - not easy, - but normal. It will pass. I had pretty much the same side effects, and I can't add much to what Madelyn and Gregg have told you. Try to keep a positive attitude, have faith in your medical team, as well as your own ability to beat this, and (this is probably the hardest), try to have patience. Patience requires relaxation, and I found that Atavan was a real big help to me, in that respect. Your oncologist will have no problem prescribing Atavan for your anxiety.
You are in my prayers. Please keep us posted.

Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2007

Hi Ernie,

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. It makes me feel much better to hear what others are going through and how similar the experiences. Thank you for sharing yours.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.


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