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Seeking Tips To Relieve Chemotherapy Side Effects

Hatshepsut's picture
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006

My husband has now taken two infusions of Oxyliaplatin and Vectibix along with two one-week courses of Xeloda (we're four days into the third course of Xeloda). He also had a 3-hour infusion of iron to address anemia issues.

He is starting to have a skin rash. He is beginning to be sensitive to cold. And, his appetite, despite my virtuoso cooking skills, is flagging. (He also has a fistula and a pouch.)

I realize that this board has a wealth of experience with the side effects of chemotherapy. Could you share specific suggestions you used to ease the effects of the the drugs--keeping warm, treating the rash, increasing appetite, etc.?


Nana2's picture
Posts: 255
Joined: Mar 2010

I'm a little newer hear so I don't have much insight yet, but I did get an electric blanket for my husband which helps. He also likes to use one of those bean bag type neck pillows that you heat in the microwave, only he uses it to warm up his hands. He also has had a pretty poor appetite and hates the thick boost and ensure type drinks, but we found something called "Breeze" made by the makers of boost. It's a flavored juice box that contains 250 calories and 9g of protein. I found it online and had a case delivered. So at least when he only eats half of the meal I make for him...I know he's getting some extra calories in the juice.
Hope it helps!

Hatshepsut's picture
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006

Thank you, April.

That is exactly the type of practical advice that I'm looking for here!

I hope you and your husband are well.


Nana2's picture
Posts: 255
Joined: Mar 2010

I thought I might mention one other thing even though it's not related to a particular side affect. Knowing that my husband was going to be going through all of this and feeling frustrated about not being able to DO anything. I purchased a massage table for him for Christmas and it has been a real soothing way to help him relax and ease the pain a little. It's something he can look forward to and it has been helpful for me as well in that it feels good to be able to do something for him. We're quiet with each other for that hour except for soft spa music, no distractions, no talking. I heat the massage lotion in the microwave and light candles and the "no expectation" relaxing touch has helped us to feel closer. He says he enjoys having his hands and feet done the most. I even have a massage therapist I've gone to who has offered to come and show me the best way to soothe his muscles during treatment. Hope this helps you in you quest to help him:)

abrub's picture
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mar 2010

The rash may be an allergic reaction - please call his onc to check it out and don't worry about it being the weekend. They're used to getting calls at all times, and the dr will know if it is minor and can wait, or if your husband needs to be on benadryl or some other antihistamine.

The cold sensitivity will increase, then decrease. We needed to keep the house warmer, as at 68', my hands stopped working. Fleece gloves or mittens are good to have, and he should never walk barefoot on uncarpeted floors - that will hurt!

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Hatshepsut,making some warm soup for your husband is always a good choice when he doesn't have appetite.I have a recipe called"tomato egg drop soup".Maybe you can give a try.

1,chop one or two tomatoes depending on the size and how much you like the tomato.
2,scramble one or two eggs in a bowl
3,chop some shallot
4,turn on the stove,heat the wok,then put one table spoon canola oil,when the oil is heated,put the chopped shallot in,stir fry.Then put the chopped tomato in,stir fry.When the tomato is getting juicy and soft,add one or two cups of water,when the water is boiling,put the scrambled egg in.At last you can put a little sea salt and white pepper in.

It's easy to make.Hope this is helpful.

biglaur's picture
Posts: 72
Joined: Apr 2010

Oxy days well. NOTHING sounded good to eat...my husband kept pushing food on me, made it worse. I think trying to eat little bits all day long worked the best for me. When Chris put a big meal in front of me I couldn't eat anything, better to snack often. Also, try and stay away from your favorite foods...they'll quickly become your least favorites if you eat them while you feel bad.
I wore gloves all the time for my cold hands. I got microwaveable sox and gloves...they felt sooooo good. And Uggs...when I wasn't heating my sox I had my feet in Uggs. Bag balm will help the dry peeling feet. Good luck...ALL the symptoms go away after you stop the drugs (6 weeks) so don't lose hope or feel like it lasts forever. My feet and hands got VERY bad (blisters and peeling and a lot of pain) My doc put me on Cymbalta, most of the pain went away within days. It can be tough on the liver so is not for everyone, but worth researching...it was a miracle for me.

lisa42's picture
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008


Vectibux, similar to Erbitux, causes an acne like rash. I was on Erbitux for a while and had it horribly (this was before I knew I was kras mutated, so then stopped it).
Anyhow- you need to call the dr. or nurse pract. asap and get two prescrptions- one for oral antibiotics (I took minocycline & it helped me go from looking like a monster to almost normal within a week or so), and also one for a topical ointment. My skin is very sensitive, so I couldn't use the ointment very long, but I've heard most people that use it think it works well. Sorry, I don't remember what the ointment is called. I've heard that most oncs now will sometimes give the oral antibiotic ahead of time as a rash preventative. Get it in him soon.

So far as the oxaliplatin, have your hubby take B-6 and alpha lipoic acid (both in pill or capsule form) to help prevent neuropathy. I didn't find out about taking those until after I stopped the oxy- it did help later, but I sure wish I had known about taking them earlier. There are prescription meds you can take for pain or numbness. I never took any of those, after hearing from a friend who did that they made her really kind of "out of it". I was already having trouble with feeling foggy headed at that point, so I didn't want to add to it. Maybe not everyone reacts that way, though. I'd have your husband start w/ the B-6 and alpha lipoic acid now, though, for sure.

Praying all goes well with this treatment for him.


Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

I had a long list of stuff typed in and hit the wrong button and poof, it was all gone . I will copy it this time in case it happens again....OK, now...here is a list of school supplies he may need and also things to eat and to watch out for....

Cold sensitivity will be quick to take over...so room temps drinks are mandatory...some that were very palatable for me are...
orange sunkist
ocean spray crangrape
Dr Pepper
Nestea with lemon

Foods that were edible...seemed that spicy was better for me, seemed to overwhelm the nausea..
chili and oyster crackers
barbequed ribs or pork chops
cottage cheese and peaches or pears again at room temp...
fruit loops- no milk
old fashion ginger snaps

Clothing .......
socks with rubber bottoms like the hospital uses...
handwarmers like hunters use. Walmart has them they are in an orange packet about $1 a set and they will last for about 10 hrs...

Most of all...plenty of TV time and rest...He will feel like crap for about 4-6 days then start feeling all good again..He will have about 1 bad week then 1 good one then infusion time again..It will go by quickly though...and ya'll simply enjoy the time together spent....Love to you and yours, Clift

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Hatshepsut

Many good suggestions already listed on your thread.

One thing I could add that was not mentioned - MAGNESIUM SULFATE. This is infused before and after the Oxy is given.

It does not work for everyone, but is definitely worth a try! If it works for D, then he will be able to drink cold liquids as soon as he comes out of Infusion and not have to wait the next 5-7 days for the cold sensitivity to pass. So, he would not have to drink room temperature drinks. I found that to be emotionally uplifting and gave me some control in my life back.

So, if that works, it's really helpful - and if it does not, then it was really worth the effort. I had a lady post to me the other day, that she saw me talking about this - she had her onc give it to her and it WORKED for her - she was so excited. So, please give that a try.

And Xeloda can be hard on a person's stomach, so some good anti-nausea meds would be good to take and that will help with trying to get some intake into his stomach. Bag Balm worked well for me on my feet while taking this drug. Slather it on 3x a day, morning, noon and evening and put socks on over it - holds the moisture in. The feet can begin to peel and crack, so this will definitely help soothe his feet and make standing and walking less of a chore.

Everyone else had great ideas, so I'll stop here, but wanted to suggest this to you.

Take care - Craig

ADKer's picture
Posts: 150
Joined: Aug 2008

The thing that helped me get through oxaliplatin was having some projects around the house to focus on. Thinking about something besides the chemo helped decrease the impact that it had on my life.

The cold sensitivity eventually began to last longer and longer into the 2 week cycle but it does end immediately when you stop taking the oxaliplatin. Hopefully the knowledge that there is nothing permanent about the cold sensitivity will help your husband cope with that.

For the xeloda, I began using thick Gold Bond lotion on my feet and to a lesser extent my hands as soon as I started the xeloda. The only symptoms of hand-foot syndrome that I got were red feet and hands.

The neuropathy seems to be hit and miss. Just keep the doctor informed. Mine got worse after the oxaliplatin was stopped but gradually improved over about 15 months to very minimal numbness in my toes.

Best wishes to your husband.

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

For the rash, I used what Lisa42 did, minocyclin and that helped. Also I used fragrance free soaps as much as possible and stayed out of the sun and heat as much as possible, The sun tended to make things worse. My skin would get better a few days before my next infusion.
For the appetite, you know my answer....MJ

abrub's picture
Posts: 2149
Joined: Mar 2010

In contrast to Buzzard,everything tasted overly spiced to me - the least bit of black pepper was painful (and normally I love spicy foods). That's going to be a very individual thing.

My husband was glad when I could eat spices again - things that would not make anyone else blink would cause me pain from being too spicy!

I'm back to loving the burn.

Buzzard's picture
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

Sorry just had to do that......and yes abrub it is and individual thing and during chemo anything at all good is a blessing..... :)

Shayenne's picture
Posts: 2370
Joined: Jan 2009

.....My 3rd infusion of Folfox on Wednesday, and wow, it's not a fun trip. You actually feel the symptoms like the prickly fingers 6 days after even being disconnected from the pump. Then, it's weird, I may be able to drink and eat cold sooner then I can touch cold, that prickly sensation is off and on alot, even washing dishes, or transferring my wet clothes to the dryer during laundry really hurts. It's not even hurt, it's just really uncomfortable. And you really can't time when it's over, because sometimes it will be over one day, when I can have a milk shake, and then the next day I can't! it's just a really strange drug that I can't get used too, even just to wash my hands, even with warm water, it hurts. I feel ok using warm water to brush my teeth though.

I think Nana2 gave really a really good idea to use a heating pad, and on those parts of the body that ache really bad (I get really achy shoulders from laying on my sides so much) that I love icy/hot! It goes on cold, but then gets hotter after it's massaged in, and my lovely Wes will massage it in a few times a day, especially before bed, where I will then put the heating pad on, and it helps the aching.

I don't know about the rash, but would something like Bedadryl maybe help it? I know my friends use it on their kids hives, or anything like poison oak, whatever they seem to get into, but couldn't hurt to try. And definitely try FFML's tomato soup recipe...yummy! That girl can cook ;)

I find Lemonade, Orange Soda, Vernor's Ginger Ale, and Iced Tea really good to drink warm. Even flavor packets for the water, which I keep at room temp. I will make 2 jugs of the lemonade, or raspberry ice drinks (these are just great value brand I buy in Walmart, where the powdered drink sections are).

I hope he finds something he likes. OH yeah! Cream soda is also something yummy warm! Hope he feels better soon!


Posts: 175
Joined: Nov 2009

I will be starting vectibix on April 21st and my onc prescribed an antibiotic for me to start taking before treatment and two different creams to use on the rash when it starts. Ask the drs about this as maybe it will help reduce or clear up the rash caused by the vectibix.Blessings to you and your husband. Deb

Hatshepsut's picture
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006

Thank you for taking the time to give me so many helpful tips, facts and recipes. I am determined to make my husband's chemotherapy experience as comfortable as it can be.

In my continuing search for information, I did find a website that had some useful information. The website is:

Link: Caring4Cancer

Again, thank you and I would appreciate any other ideas that you have. In this fight, there are many things that ease one's path: kind words, the sharing of experiences and the nuts and bolts coping strategies that necessarily emerge as difficult therapies are implemented. My husband and I have been fortunate to find people on this site who have generously eased our path.


daydreamer110761's picture
Posts: 497
Joined: Dec 2008

But during treatment, I found that along with some spicy foods, I also loved pancakes (could taste the syrup I guess), and scrambled eggs with ketchup. Buzz's suggestion about orange sunkist was the best - i had been drinking lemonade, not bad at room temp. I also agree with do not eat anything you love - I was yearning for tuna, and now still have a problem looking at it! It was just awful! When everything tastes like sawdust it's hard to want to eat!

By the way - Fightformylove has MANY great recipes that were good - I've made her tomatoe egg drop soup!

I had warm fuzzy socks, and gloves that you pop in the microwave also, that was extremely useful.

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