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Radiation and Chemo at the same time

Posts: 45
Joined: Jan 2010

I would like to hear from someone doing rads and chemo at the same time. I am doing both and am very tired and nauseus. I have a hard time eating as food tastes pretty awful and i seem to get more nauseus. Also I have a hard time drinking so much water. Is there other drinks that can take the place of all the water you need to drink. Sleeping is another problem that i have. Any suggestions. Why do some people do rads and chemo at the same time when others seem to do one at a time.

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sep 2006

I did rads and chemo at the same time following surgery for head/neck cancer (only chemo following the subsequent lung cancer surgery) and also felt drained. At the time I considered it more a result of the surgery than the rads and the chemo, but I would say that you should not be surprised to feel fatigue, you should not be surprised that your appetite has waned.

The reason to have chemo and rads at the same time is because your doctors have a strong sense that you can handle it, I would suspect. I can think of only two reasons why they would separate them (and I am not a doctor, by the way, so take what I say with a large cube of salt), and those are (1) you can't handle them jointly, and (2) they want to see what happens with one of them before even considering the other.

It is NOT a cakewalk, as you have long since realized. It is a testament to all of the positive folks who habituate this site that you can read stuff in here and go away thinking that cancer doesn't have to be such a big deal (and I don't mean you, personally, but anybody).

It really is a big deal, regardless of stage, regardless of treatment measures.

With respect to your other questions, because of the head/neck cancer thing I have some experience with eating difficulties. It happens that when you have difficulties swallowing for whatever reason, among the toughest things to swallow is water. Water may be the thinnest thing you try to swallow and so also the easiest to aspirate (send down the wrong pipe).

Believe it or not, even simply changing to a seltzer water can have a great impact in this regard. For some reason, carbonation tends to help the swallow mechanism make the right decision. And, as a bonus, according to my Oncoman seltzer water provides more hydration than tap water or the stuff you are likely to be in a bottle.

But: there is no substitute for water, whether tap, bottled, or seltzer. I enjoy tomato juice, a vegetable juice, milk-based protein drinks, shakes, smoothies, and the like, but I have found, without a PEG tube of late, that dehydration still sets in if you do not drink your water.

With respect to your appetite and your lack of taste, I don't know what to say except that this may pass. Frankly, as time has passed for me I am finally considering that my sense of taste will never be quite the same. I HAVE taste, do not get me wrong. But I can eat the same things as other people and in one case be blown away by the spiciness while they consider the food mild, while on another occasion they can marvel at the wonderful taste while I find the item bland.

For better or for worse, I think most people would agree that hot comes back quickly, not necessarily so that you like it, but so that you notice it (actually, it comes back immediately). Sweet is an early bloomer and you might try salty, even if both bode well for other potential health concerns.

You might also try eating things you didn't like to eat before. I have been surprised by some of the discoveries I have made in that regard, certain, for example, that I never liked black olives and never will, only to find them among my new-found favorites.

With respect to the above, of course, consult your doctors before making any dramatic changes to diet. And be sure to ask them for something medicinal for nausea. Common stuff offered includes Fenergin and Compazine, neither of which I can recommend, but both of which I've used.

Probably more than you asked for.

Keep eating, keep drinking (non-alcoholic stuff), and keep trying.

It will get better!

Take care,


Posts: 45
Joined: Jan 2010

Joe, Thanks very much for your reply. You make me and so many other people feel good as you answer alot of questions and concerns that we have. I have read alot of what you went thru and I and I appreciate the wonderful person that you are.
I have been thru breast c 5 years ago then bang I turned up with lung cancer which was found when my tumor markers numbers started to rise and my husband insisted on a ct scan. My breast oncology dr said chemo but surgery wes inoperable. My husband wanted a second opinion so we went to a team of drs and they said they were looking for a cure if they could shrink the tumor. They gave me aggressive chemo and radiation together and other tests. The tumor shrunk and if I can pass a pulmonary and other tests I am scheduled for surgery the 28th. I write this beause I want other people to know if they are not happy with their local drs opinion they may want get a 2nd opinioon from drs specializing in lung c.
I am a religious person and I pray that everything will go right and I can have the surgery. I have a wonderful husband and family that helps me thru this. They pray and give me hope.
If for some reason I cant have the surgery I will pray my tumor is in remission.
I want to thank all the wonderful people that have answered my questions since I joined in jan 2010. I wish none of us had to be here and am hopeful a cure will soon come. They have come along way with treatments. I have a friend that has had c for about 10 years and altho she has had to have different treatments several times she is is still doing fine.
May God Bless all of you.

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