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"Chemo is hurting you" ??

rose20's picture
Posts: 277
Joined: Jan 2011

My brother just went for his tenth round of chemo today...the dr. told him the chemo is "hurting him" what does this mean???
In my heart I felt the chemo was just tearing him up,after his 9th round of chemo he never seemed to recover. His ankles are swollen, much acid, throwing up...That's why I have asked just when do you stop chemo. How many rounds can a person take?
But why would the doctor say this about the chemo "hurting him" and yet continue with the chemo??? Can someone clarify this?
Thank you so much.

In God we trust,

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petals007's picture
Posts: 24
Joined: Nov 2010

Well, if I understand correctly chemotherapy drugs are considered toxic and while they are used to kill cancer cells, they also kill healthy non-cancerous cells in the process too.

I think the doctor was just being honest in saying that all of the symptoms he is experiencing is caused by the chemotherapy treatments.

A doctor would admit that the chemo is hurting your brother and still administer it because to my knowledge, the only weapons we (as in the current medical field) have to treat / cure cancer is chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

Since it only takes one malignant cancer cell to be present in the body to create problems, it is common for doctors to utilize all three treatments in an effort to get every last cancer cell. Otherwise, they could choose to just do radiation and therapy and run the risk of not killing every cancer cell. Your brother will unfortunately just develop additional tumors at a later date / time.

The amount of rounds of chemotherapy and radiation a person can take varies wildly between individual people and their health, along with the type of chemotherapy drugs given, dosage administered, and the frequency as well.

Hopefully that helped some.

Posts: 395
Joined: Jul 2009

My husband just went for round #3 after his ec came back. I asked the second in command, his primary oncologist was gone...what are the chances that this will get the cancer cells? Iknew the answer to the question...hate when that happens.

I knew what the chemo did to him before but it kept him cancer free so to speak for over a year until it came back...

The oncologist said...this chemo won't cure it...only hold it stable...well...if the next scan shows it stayed the same...how much more can they do or can he handle?

Who knows? Meanwhile the chemo is attacking good cells also...so it's only a matter of time before he can't do it any more...

When he was first diagnosed, no one expected to still be here now...that was in July 09, but he is...

Only your brother will know when it's time to stop treatments...


rose20's picture
Posts: 277
Joined: Jan 2011

This is so true, I guess it will be up to my brother and you are so right he will be the one to decide when it is enough. They have him scheduled for an echocardiogram tomorrow, but he does not know how he can possibly endure this test that they said will take up to an hour. He can not lay flat or he feels like he is choking. When you remember please keep him in your prayers I am praying for all of you dear ones on here that are going through this.
"We turn to you God,you are always there, you are there to listen to all our prayers."

sandy1943's picture
Posts: 883
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Rose, My EC was stage 111, so very different. The day came when side effects meant the port could no longer be used. My oncologists talked to me honestly about how the chemo was destroying me. He suggested it was time to stop chemo. I made the decision myself. It is a personal decision. I knew what I was going through and I wanted to feel good again. Since then , my test have been good. Since I had tested positive in a lymph node after surgery, it still remains at the back of my mind, that cancer can rear it's head again, but given the opportunity I would fight it again, up to a certain point. I personally had rather spend a little quality time with my family than a longer time of misery.
Will be praying for your brothers test today,

unclaw2002's picture
Posts: 664
Joined: Jan 2010

This is not medical advice but my personal opinion


If I remember correctly your brother was diagnosed Stage III - but he didn't want to consider surgery. So it is difficult to know how to answer you ---- Chemo is very difficult and does kill the good cells as well as the bad. It is important to have a candid discussion with the doctor and how many more treatments are scheduled? Radiation? --- what is going on with the cancer? does it look like the chemo is working? If it is then the discussion is very different. If the cancer is spreading and the chemo isn't working then you have a different set of concerns treatment questions.

Before we really can offer advice or our personal thoughts it would be helpful to know where your brother is in his treatment and what is already planned out for the future.

Rose - I have had the discussions with my father I have shared the MAYO article William posted for you and we have talked about when to stop my dad's treatment. He has waived but right now he wants to go on so we support him but remind him if the chemo takes away his entire quality of life we should really consider what is happening especially since it doesn't seem to stop his cancer. But we are talking about that right now because the chemo doesn't seem to be helping. So the million dollar question for you is the chemo/radiation helping to stop the cancer from spreading and shrinking the tumor?

I will also post a link to another thoughtful article - it is 13 pages long but a thoughtful article in the New York Times that I thought you would appreciate. It is a rather insightful look at what happens to us when we become ill. The article is titled “Letting Go. What should medicine do when it can’t save your life?” by Atul Gawande
(August 2, 2010). It can be found at http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/02/100802fa_fact_gawande (remember to cut and paste into your browser)

Good luck and let us know how things are going. I am going to paste this with William's post as well.


rose20's picture
Posts: 277
Joined: Jan 2011

Cindy, thank you so much for your reply. But no my brother was diagnosed with stage 4 and surgery was not even an option. To answer your question yes, the chemo is shrinking the tumor but the chemo is effecting his body. The doctor said his blood work did not turn out so good this time. Don't know what exactly that means. I have since talked with my brother since my intial post, and he said the doctor said that if the chemo gets to working against his body then they will stop it completely and let his body recover before starting the chemo again. He was never given radiation as an option during his treatment. Only chemo and he is on a clinical (experimental)drug as well. He was to go for an echocardiogram for severe swelling of his legs and a rash but they postponed it until next Wednesday because he is just too exhausted and weak at this time. I will read the article you sent thank you. And I am sorry for your daddy going through this. I will be praying.

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