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First round of chemo - update

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

I've been having a much harder time than I ever anticipated. But at least I've discovered a little more of why I am having such a tough time.

Chemo + Severe thrush = HELL!

If you want to read more, here is the link, but it is very long. Otherwise the short of it is, I have a bad thrush infection mouth, espophagus, and probably throughout my entire GI tract according to the doctor. That in itself would make me very sick. Add some bad side effects from chemo and you are in hell. So, I'm not a failure as I was starting to worry about - I'm not a big whimp. I just have had a string of bad luck the last 8 weeks...

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kathrynblume

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi Kathryn,

I'm sorry to hear you've got thrush (which is a yeast infection) throughout your GI tract. Go to your nearest health food store and ask about what probiotics are good for combating yeast. Make sure to tell them you're on chemotherapy. Some of the people in some stores are more or less knowledgeabl than others, so if you don't get answers, keep searching.
You might even enter a google search "probiotics and thrush" or "probiotics and yeast".

I have been taking probiotics for about 4 months ago, while on active chemo (Folfiri).
I also put two of my kids on probiotics for constipation and digestive issues. My youngest daughter was even having some symptoms that pointed to a possibility of yeast infections. She seems to be doing much better and also isn't nearly as constipated as she always was (probiotics can help to regulate the digestive system which helps with both constipation and diahrrea, as well as with any other bacterias, etc. that are not healthy to be in the G.I. tract. If your onc poo-poos it, ask him for specific reasons why & if maybe certain probiotics over others can be better or worse for you to take while on chemo.
My oncologist had no problem with me at all taking probiotics while on chemo. I know Donna recently mentioned that her doc is a bit hesitant. Hard to know when they all have different opinions, isn't it?!

Best wishes to you with this and with getting through the chemo.

Hugs,
Lisa

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

I was taking Ortho Biotic protonics, right up till the day of chemo. When I first changed to a very healthy even stricter diet, I cut out all dairy, so instead of Activia, I took these.

I have a certified oncological dietician. (Only about 200 in the US.) She is a wealth of info. She looked over everything I was taking carefully. She told me due to the high levels in this particular probiotic (of serveral different straings), that it was too much to be on during chemo, and could actually cause me to get sick when combined with chemo. Instead she suggested I do yogurt and other foods with probiotics added - mix them up to get different strains on different days instead of overloading them all. But, I couldn't eat yogurt = nothing cold. :(

I should have known better after the TON of anti-biotics I have been on the last 6 weeks. Four surgeries and an aggressive strange anaerobic bacterial infection which required the heavy guns. I've had levaquin and vancomycin numerous times, plus clindamycin and more. Stopping the probiotic and doing chemo at the same time just pushed my stystem too far.

Now I'm on an antifungal, and today I took my Ortho Biotic anyway. I'm going to shoot an email to the dietician and ask for her advice and help. I'm wondering if I should move towards a candida diet for a bit.

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

Here is part of what the dietician just told me about my situation and probiotics right now:

If you can warm the yogurt a bit (room temp) I think that would help stem to stern the GI tract. I think that keeping fluids up is essential, limit simple sugars for the yeast overgrowth. The probiotics are a concern when the WBC and neutrophils are low. There is also a much higher risk for translocation of the live flora with the gut being more permeable with the loose stools/inflammation.

dianetavegia's picture
dianetavegia
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

All those antibiotics you had to take for the infection in the first port area probably set you up for Thrush. Poor gal! Praying you feel much better very soon!

Diane

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

You got it Diane - that is what did me in. Two antibiotics given preventitively before colon resection. Two before port insertion. Then 3 for the port infection. Remove the port, and continue heavy duty antibiotics. Then two preventitively for the new port insertion.

I don't have ANY bacteria left alive in me, good or bad... Now just FUNGUS/YEAST. YUCK! (At least I haven't been hit with the vaginal yeast yet, thank goodness!)

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4882
Joined: May 2005

Kathryn,
Sorry you have the thrush on top of the chemo, neither is a picnic. Don't even go near thinking you are a wimp (big/small/medium/or otherwise). You're tough as nails for doing what you doing.
I hope you get through this lickity-split.
-phil

I can relate to the string of bad luck, I have many things that happened, most are not chemo related but you'd think one would get a break because of the cancer. Not so.
At least I have my health. DARN!!! Don't quite have that either yet ;-)

thready's picture
thready
Posts: 475
Joined: Sep 2009

Kathryn,
Did your doctor give you diflucan? My son had a sever gi yeast infection after a round of many anitbiotics. He said his Upper GI tract was on fire! His Doctor gave him Diflucan and this took care of the problem, his symptoms started to subside after about 24 hrs. I can not imagine yeast and cancer side effects that are difficult to handle. I don't think anyone thinks you are a wimp! And you are not a failure, you are doing going through this thing and that shows the world you are strong and successful. I am posting a bit info about the diflucan for you or others who might need it. By the way I had thrush in my mouth after surgery, it was gross and it hurt and it was aweful.

Diflucan (fluconazole ) is an antifungal antibiotic.

Diflucan is used to treat infections caused by fungus, which can invade any part of the body including the mouth, throat, esophagus, lungs, bladder, genital area, and the blood.

Diflucan is also used to prevent fungal infection in people with weak immune systems caused by cancer treatment, bone marrow transplant, or diseases such as AIDS

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

Yes - I am on fluconazole. Double dose to start yesterday, and regular each day now. I've had a little improvement, but my throat, espophagus and stomach are still full of pain. My tongue is now white instead of yellow, and not quite as heavily coated. The doctor said to expect to see improvement in about 48 hours. I've got it bad enough that she figured it would be longer than 24. So I am hoping to feel close to "normal" tomorrow.

The crazy thing is I KNOW what thrush is. If I were not on chemo, I would have realized what was going on. One of my babies got it when nursing - we caught it quickly and it was a non-issue. But with all the warning about awful tastes in your mouth and mouth sores, I just didn't pick up on the thrush for me right now.

thready's picture
thready
Posts: 475
Joined: Sep 2009

Kathryn,
That thrush thing is so icky! I did not make the connection with what I was tasting and feeling until I got home from the hospital after surgery. Then I looked inside my mouth. We called the surgeon right away and he called out a lozenge. I had to have two rx's to get rid of it. I would have rather had the diflucan, but he did not think it was necessary.

I am really really sympathising with you, and hope within the next 24 hrs you get to feeling better. Just doing the chemo is enough, but for some reason there has to be other things.
Take care and let us know how you are filling.
Jan

Muzzy's picture
Muzzy
Posts: 178
Joined: Sep 2009

You have had the worse luck. I'm going to say an extra prayer for you tonight.
My the all your other treatments go better.
Jeff
Just happy to be here!!!

Patteee's picture
Patteee
Posts: 950
Joined: Jul 2009

My second hospitalization for chemo related issues and after treatment 6, I was in a week for thrush and mouth sores. My mouth was so swollen I couldn't speak, couldn't even open my mouth. After your first treatment, this isn't very encouraging to hear. The only thing that helped me was a combination of anti-yeast meds, IV fluids, IV pain killers and time. It does get better, but yes it is a horrid experience. My onc cut the oxi for treatment number 7 and number 8, but even after that my mouth was going south after #8. The only thing that finally took care of it was when he stopped oxi all together after #8. Magic mouthwash, frequent salt and warm water mouth rinses and I actually had liquid morphine (not to drink, to gargle with). I think if you will really focus on getting this under control and then staying strongly on top of it for the remainder of chemo treatments you will get through it. If it persists, more than likely you will need the oxi cut. Good luck!

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

Yuck - I feel your pain.

I've already said I want the oxy reduced for next time. After hearing your story I am going to insist - if the oxy is the worst contributor to thrush as far as chemo. My problem started due to the ton of antibiotics - but stopping taking my heavy probiotic and starting chemo that day was the combo to push my body over the edge.

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

I am very sorry to hear what you are suffering.You are in my prayers and I hope the rest of the chemo will go better.Take care.Hugsss.

robinvan's picture
robinvan
Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2007

Kathryn, I am so sorry to hear about your problems with Thrush and Chemo. It sounds so awfull! I hope you are able to find something that knocks the yeast back and get to a place where you can work on dealing with the chemo alone.

Thinking of you... Rob; in Vancouver

dalex's picture
dalex
Posts: 8
Joined: Oct 2009

I am getting ready to start my 1st round of chemo and have heard some scary stories about thrush. Is it normal to get it and how do the cold items effect you? I am trying to work a full time job at the same time that I am going through this as I am sure so many people are, do you have any suggestions?

your new friend,
dalex

Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Kathryn_in_MN
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

This continues to be a tough week - well now I'm into week #2...

I went back for more IV fluids and Kytril again. The PA called to see how I was doing and said she wanted me in for more fluids, IV anti-nausea (because I'm having trouble with the pills I have here) and a re-check before the weekend. It made sense, to be a little proactive to prevent a trip to the ER over the weekend if this doesn't get better, and I go too many days with troubles again. The thrush is still visible in my mouth and throat, and still creating troubles in my stomach, but it is better than it was on Wednesday. The fuids and Kytril didn't seem to help as much today as on Wednesday. And afterwards now, my collarbone and shoulder are really sore.

My port didn't work right today. It flushed ok after accessing, and then we had to wait for the orders to come through. Then when they tried to draw blood for the labs, there was none. She tried over and over. Even tipped me back flat for a bit. Nothing. Rather than have the port re-accessed (still pretty swollen and sore), I said to just take the labs from my arm, if they could still get fluids in through the port for the Kytril and hydration. I hope this isn't a sign of yet another problem I'm going to have. At least I DO have blood - no problem from the arm! ;)

I got a copy of my last labs, and the CEA news isn't good. Each time I've gone up by 2. I started at 2, then 4, then 6, and now I am over 8. So this isn't just "insurance" chemo for just in case anymore. The indication is pretty strong that there is cancer growing in my body right now. That scares me a bit that what was seen on the PET might be cancer, and not surgery trauma or something else. I'll have to wait for 3 more cycles of chemo and then we will re-check.

Kind of a depressing week. I'm praying to get some strength back and get rid of the headache, mouth and throat pain, stomach pain, and nausea soon, so I can have a few days of feeling better before I have to go through this all again on Thursday. I can't imagine starting out feeling as I do now, and getting through it again. I'd rather be in a coma for the next 6 months and let them get it done without my knowledge. Wouldn't that be a great option? ;)

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