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Radiation and Chemo

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2010

I will not see my Oncologist until the end of the month and he will prescribe treatment for Squamous Cell Carcinoma, from what I was told at prior appoints it will be radiation and chem (Cisplatin IV).
Has anyone finished treatment with a minimum of side effects and after what week of treatment did you need another driver available?

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Welcome aboard, there is a wealth of information and experience on this site. Everyone is more than willing to offer their exeriences and information along with support.

Basically everyone is different and reacts differently. A lot goes into that as for health going in, genetics, attitude, pain tolerances, etc....

During the portion of treatmewnt that I was receiving similar to yours (Carboplaten and Radiation) over a seven week period (I did also have nine weeks of Cisplaten, Taxotere and 5FU before the seven week concurrent). I usually had my wife with me on the days of chemo, but more a moral support issue. I also drove myself to and from the majority of the other days. Some of those days initially I took Xanax prior to diving just as a little anxiety relief from wearing the mask. The Xanax only lasted a week or so, then I was used to it.

As for side effects, they vary. You will more than likely be fine the first few weeks with the radiation. But around week 3 and for the first few weeks after radiation has ended, you'll more than likely have the roughest times.

Anywhere from your neck peeling or seeping externally, being pretty raw and sore internally. Along with loss of taste, saliva, appetite, etc...(they'll give you pain meds) and more than likely might recommend a PEG (feeding tube).

Treatment is very doable, but definitely a rough diet....

Good Luck, and God Bless,

Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2196
Joined: Nov 2009


My chemo treatment was the same as the one John (Skiffin16) had. The only time I needed a driver during treatment was for the chemo IV days during induction chemo (cisplatin, taxotere and 5-FU). The only reason I needed a driver on those three days was because of the Benadryl given to me prior to chemo. I was on IV all day, and very tired at the end of the day, so had someone pick me up from the center. As John told you, we're all different - a patient at my center who I would guess was in better physical shape than me pre-treatment did need a driver part of the time.

I did have what I consider rough patches, but, all in all did not suffer nearly as much as many people here did. I did treatment for Stage IV base of tongue cancer with lymph node involvement.

I did (almost all of the time) follow my doctors' directions, and kept them informed on what was going on with me. Many side effects you may experience can be tempered or eliminated with medications and/or changes in what you're doing or eating.

There are lots of folks here who can be a goldmine of info for you. I hope your treatment goes well.

Posts: 18
Joined: May 2010

Hello Rudy.

I had SCC also and the same basic treatment and term as Skiffin and Pam. I can only reiterate what they have already told you in that everyone is different. For me, my wife was with me for all my treatments (Chemo and Rad) not because I couldn't drive but I think because she loved me. :) Anyway, it was easier for her to drive although I think I could have driven until about the 5th week of radiation. At that point you just want to get home and you don't care who drives. You will be thankful that it's not you however. Long road ahead. I had a Fellow in the Oncology department tell me I had a marathon ahead of me but that I could run and win that race. He was right. You can do it also. Keep as good an attitude as you possibly can. Take your meds when you are supposed to and not when you are well past needing them. Before you know it, you will be on the road to recovery.


Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2010

You didn't state what stage your cancer is.

Please read the following link:


In the opinion of Dr. Marshall Posner, the lead researcher, the above protocol is the current standard of care for stage III/IV--several doses of induction chemotherapy of Taxatere, Cisplatin and 5FU followed by lower dose weekly (Taxatere/Cisplatin) concurrent chemotherapy during radiation therapy.

As you can see from the other replies, this protocol is becoming widely adopted.

In my brother's case, his oncologist added weekly Erbitux to the mix. So far the results have been very impressive.

Taxatere is pretty powerful and can have significant side effects. My brother became nauseous, his white blood cell counts went low, he lost his hair and has some neuropathy in his fingers. He got hydration and shots to raise his blood count for a week after his three week doses. During the concurrent chemo he didn't need it.

Lena Rose
Posts: 73
Joined: Apr 2010

Dr. Posner is my husband's doctor. He is top notch and an expert in HPV throat cancer.

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

The source of Taxotere is the Pacific Yew Tree, bit of trivia;



Lena Rose
Posts: 73
Joined: Apr 2010

Hi rudygala,

My husband was able to drive himself everyday for radiation for 7 weeks. I would drive him on chemo days because of the benadryl that he was given, plus it was a long day for him so it was nice to have someone there with him. Wishing you all the best with treatment.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2010

I would like to thank everyone for their input. I feel a lot better knowing that others ran the course, I've been hearing nothing but horror stories. I'll take one day at a time and take it from there.

greg from pa
Posts: 86
Joined: Jun 2010

I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma involving more than 2 lymph nodes back in April.I couldn,t believe it, Iam a non smoker ,exersized regularly,and ate a healthier than average diet.I was reffered to an ENT who found a base of tounge primary which tested positive for HPV.I start chemo and radiation on the 28th of June.I just had a peg tube put in today.this was strongly suggested by my doctors. This is my first time to post here but I have been reading the threads for almost 2 months.This site has helped me alot.I want to thank everyone for sharing their experience.I plan on participating from now on .

Greg53's picture
Posts: 848
Joined: Apr 2010

Rudygala and greg from pa,

Welcome to our group. I don't have much to add to what the other veterans here have given you, except to say sorry that you have to be here. But this is an awesome group of people here! Never met any yet, but I consider a lot of them friends already. Raise any questions you have, someone usually has an answer (even if not, they'll make one up - LOL).

Make sure you sign on to Skiffen's thread on where your from.

Good luck

Kent Cass
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov 2009

to rudygala and greg of pa. You two are early in the process, and I would urge you to start thinking about everything in the context of surviving this C thing. You will, just as we have. This is 2010, and the C-fighting med field is good enough to successfully deal with the C, and do so in a physically acceptable way. Yes, it's a rough road you are gonna be on, but that rough stretch leads to a much better road. I returned to work a month after my last rad, and am a 19-month survivor. And I'm far-from being an Elder, here.

As for the driver, some depends on distance to and from, the treatment specifics, some the meds, and some on the toll that treatment takes on you. With me, and my Cisplatin/FU5 delivery- needed a driver on the second day of week #2, but that was more because of the meds I started on, then, than the side-effects. Was, however, able to drive myself in weeks #4, 7 and 8 (got no rads in week 5 or 6), and all times thereafter.

Again, a welcome to you both, hopes that all goes well and you'll stay with us to let us help, and share, in what lies ahead for you, and Prayers. I reckon you both better get used-to the idea of surviving this bout with C- you will.



debbiejeanne's picture
Posts: 3095
Joined: Jan 2010

I just want to say welcome to the newcomers. I'm sorry you have to travel this road but since you do, this is a good place to be. You will meet the best people here who are eager to help, answer questions, share their experience and anything else you may need. I wish you the best and you will all be in my prayers. Take care and please keep us posted on your progress.
God Bless,

JUDYV5's picture
Posts: 392
Joined: Jun 2010

A pathology report showed Squamous Cell Carcimoma on March 10, 2010. They could not remove the tumor because of the location in my throat. I finished my 35 daily radiation treatments and my last of 3 Cisplatin treatments on June 8.2010. It was a long 3 months.

Two weeks out I am feeling OK. I have side effects, but this web site is wonderful for answering questions. The side effects are diminishing. I can eat, soft food very slowly. I can taste food. I did have a jpeg put in and I still get most of my nutrition from that. I can talk (my family calls me squeaker). I never had any skin problems from radiation. I am a 46 year old who never smoked and seldom drank. A part of me still can't believe I have\had cancer.

What is amazing is wonderful people are. I have 3 kids who are old enough to understand what is going on and be affected by my illness. When I found out about my cancer I told everyone. Who I am sure told everyone else. People brought my family dinner for 3 months. People volunteered to drive me to my treatments (45 minutes away) so my husband could go to work. Getting rides isn't a bad thing if the company is good.

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1576
Joined: May 2009

My husband drove me to all of my treatments, 35 rad sessions and 2 days of chemo (cisplatin) in 3 week cycles. He wanted to be with me for the treatments but it was also a necessity for me as I took Ativan daily because I was too nervous about the mask.

I am probably one of the few people who had very mild side effects from the chemo, I didn't even lose my hair ;-) The doctors and nurses were all amazed and kept telling me that it would fall out soon. Wrong!! I was worried that the chemo wasn't working because everyone I know who has had chemo lost their hair. My oncologist told me this was not the case, the chemo was doing it's job, my last 2 days of chemo they had to cut back my dosage by 7% because my blood counts were really messed up.

I had the usual side effects - dry mouth, too much mucous, loss of taste, nausea and fatigue - but it was completely doable. I am now 8 months post treatment for 2 different types of cancer (SCC laryngeal and NSCLC adenocarcinoma in my left lung). I am in remission from both cancers and doing great. Enjoy everyday!!

You will do fine throughout your treatments. Just come here and post any questions or concerns you may have and everyone will be more than happy to help you.

My best to you as you start your journey.

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