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Supplements to help during chemotherapy?

butterfly7171
Posts: 15
Joined: Sep 2009

My dad is has been diagnosed with Stage IV Non Small Cell Lung Cancer with liver metastasis. He is 91 and will be starting chemotherapy next week. They are putting him on Gemzar and Carboplatin. 30 minutes of Gemzar and 60 minutes of Carboplatin the first week. Then the next week 30 minutes of Gemzar. then the next week off. Then the following week he starts over again. Has anyone has this combination of treatment? How well does it work? Will he feel very sick? Has anyone supplemented any vitamins to help build up his body.? I know I read that Vitamin B6 is good to take but read some negative stuff about antioxidants and how they can mess up the chemo affect. The dr. has not really given us a time frame on how long my dad will live. But I do want to have some quality of life and right now he is very weak from the cancer and sleeps alot of the time. I am so concerned about what the chemo will do to him. THe dr. said the success rate is only 30%. My dad is going to go forward with the treatments as this is his choice and his body. But I would like to gather as much info as I can so I am prepared to help him. He lives alone but thankfully is getting a lifeline next week. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks !
Suzanne

MichelleP's picture
MichelleP
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

Please make sure you discuss all supplements with your dad's onc before you start them. It's mu understanding that many can cause issues with chemo.

My husband had 6 treatments of Gemzar/Carbo. It was very very hard on his system even after the onc doc reduced the dose twice. That combo really played with his blood counts and he had to have 8 transfusions. It's hard especially on the elderly, so please make sure the onc monitors him very closely.

Good luck to your dad and let us know how he does ok?

butterfly7171
Posts: 15
Joined: Sep 2009

Michelle
The dr. is planning on checking his blood counts at week 3 of each round. Should he be checking more often? This dr. has worked with the elderly and chemo and is very experienced so I am hoping he does not overdo it with my dad.
Can you give me any idea on how he should expect to feel? Right now he is exhausted and sleeps most of the day. I am really concerned about him being alone. Even now he is unsteady.
Suzanne

MichelleP's picture
MichelleP
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

Checking the blood counts on week 3 of each round is totally unacceptable Suzanne. My husband had his blood check "before each and every chemo". That combo is very hard on the elderly...especially the Gemzar. Please talk to the doctor because if his counts are low and they proceed with chemo then there will be a problem. Maybe you mis-understood about how often blood is tested?

As far as how my hubby felt physically, yes, he was extremely tired and weak, but that was due mostly to the blood counts dropping. If he seems especially weak and cold all the time....make sure he's tested please?

Let me know what happens. I care!

butterfly7171
Posts: 15
Joined: Sep 2009

As far as what I understood the dr. was checking the blood counts at the 3rd week. But I will call the nurse tomorrow and talk to her about this issue, especially since my father is currently very weak and tired and has not even started chemo. I had to talk to him this afternoon about hospice and he is not thrilled about them coming in to help but I know that will help him if he accepts it. It will also help me. Can they check the blood count just before they start the chemo? Is that what they typically do? I don't know much about this and want to make sure they don't put him in the hospital, Thank you !
Suzanne

MichelleP's picture
MichelleP
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

I'm glad that Joe posted on this thread. He is very knowledgeable and many of us rely on his advice. Although I'm curious about you calling hospice, will they allow him to continue with chemo? To my knowledge once you start hospice, chemo must stop and the care is simply palliative. At least it is for us :(

Perhaps Joe can advise please?

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

In my own case, as Michelle advises, I was tested prior to each and every chemo session, which is to say the vampires drew blood, analyzed it right then, and only then, if white blood cell counts and platelets were sufficient, did they permit me to experience the glories of chemotherapy (in my case, second go-round, carboplatin and taxol).

Still, everyone's story is different, and everyone's treatment is different.

If, for example, your dad is getting daily doses (I doubt it) then it would not make sense to check him daily. If the doc has done the work, as I would expect, and found your dad to be quite strong in the WBC and platelet departments, that is another reason he/she might test only every three weeks. Still another might be, referencing Michelle's response, that doc has manipulated the treatment such that he is confident it will not adversely affect him.

It is clear from your post, at least to me, that he/she wants to test dad just prior to the beginning of each round.

In any event, you seem to have confidence in the doctor, and that is a very good thing, as long as dad shares in that trust.

Being 91 with metastatic cancer does not mean you have to die, although I will admit that I am pleasantly astonished by dad's doctor's efforts to sustain him at this point. I am equally impressed by your dad's efforts to keep on keeping on along with your own obvious contributions to extending his life in a quality fashion.

If you have faith in the doc, if dad has faith in the doc, go with that.

Based on your post, I feel like your dad probably has the best of care.

Best wishes to dad and his entire family.

Take care,

Joe

butterfly7171
Posts: 15
Joined: Sep 2009

I just came back from a cancer support group with a nurse running it that understands what is happening with my dad. They are doing palliative chemo which is just to reduce symptoms and not effect a cure. His blood counts will be tested weekly and I expect that the dosage of chemo will be low and so that answers alot of questions. The RN leading the group was very helpful so I feel alot better. Hospice will be a good thing and my dad has accepted it and they are coming on Wednesday. I want him to have the best and least painful exit that he can have. I love him dearly and will miss him terribly but know that this is a time that I need to help him the best way I know how. It has been hard since I am the only one in the primary care situation. My 2 brothers have not been very supportive so I have to look elsewhere. I can only pray that I help my dad to make the most informative pain free decisions.
Thanks for your help. I will post again and alot. This site has been such a help to me and I need all the support I can get so I can be strong for him.

Suzanne

MichelleP's picture
MichelleP
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2009

Suzanne....you sound like a very loving daughter and I'm sure you find the strength to endure this journey. I wish the best for you and your dad....you'll both be in my prayers. Please keep us updated when you can.

(((HUGS)))

sunshine_is_007's picture
sunshine_is_007
Posts: 11
Joined: Oct 2008

I'm glad that you went to a support group and got some answers that you were needing. This website is very informative and many intelligent people are among us here, however, sometimes it does take a person to person conversation to really understand some things. Teresa

DaleInFlorida
Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2009

I just joined this forum tonight and am already highly impressed. I am being receiveing palliative treatment for lung tumor and metasticized to lymph nodes. Identical schedule as your dad. I am 61, but have severe COPD/Emphysema, so breathing is a factor with me.

They test my blood prior to each weekly treatment, and if platelets or WBC down too much, they do not give one or the other chemo. Fortunately, the treatments have generally made me feel much better, but much of that is due to the steroid administered prior to the chemo, to help with side effects. It makes my breathing eaasier, and reduces the fatigue for several days after the treatments. I've also had a blood transfusion for low hemoblobin, which made me feel much better as well.

Prior to chemo, I was very concerned about the side effects, but not anymore.

My best to you and your dad,
Dale

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