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Immune system back to normal?

Clementine_P's picture
Posts: 516
Joined: Feb 2011

Does anyone have any idea how long it takes for your immune system to return to "normal" after chemo? My oncologist told me that "normal" is considered 4.1-11.0. Before I started chemo I was in the 6 range and then 2 months ago (3 months from the end of my chemo) I was at 2.6. He told me that I would probably never go back to where I was pre-chemo b/c the chemo causes some stem cell damage of your WBCs. He also told me it would take a while beofre it climbs back into the normal range. I just didn't think to ask how long that was. The reason I ask is because my father is recovering from pneumonia and I want to visit, but I am nervous with a compromised immune system that I could catch it. Any advice or knowledge is very much appreciated.

Oh! For what it is worth, I had 4 rounds of A/C one round of Taxol and one of Taxotere.

Thanks all!


TraciInLA's picture
Posts: 1994
Joined: Jul 2009


I had a very different cocktail than you (I did 4 rounds of T/C), but I'll share my experience for what it's worth.

My WBC counts "seesawed" for nearly a year after finishing chemo -- one month 7.5, the next month 2 or 3, and up and down and up and down. My doctor said that was completely normal. He never said anything about permanent damage, but that may be a difference between our different treatments.

Don't know if that helps?


CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

Mine was always low--around 3. During chemo it was <1 and I had to skip a month (this was before neulasta, etc). It was back to 3-4 (my normal) a few months post chemo and is the same 24 years later.

With your normal being 6, it would probably be wise to avoid your father until his docs think he is no longer contagious. If you do go, avoid close contact (especially if he is coughing) and wash or sanitize your hands frequently. I keep hand sanitizer in my purse and use it often.

Clementine_P's picture
Posts: 516
Joined: Feb 2011

Thanks Traci and Cynthia. That is really helpful. I was thinking it would be about a year to get back up into the normal range. Seems like that is a definite possibility. I will avoid him, I think you are right. Too bad as I want to help but I can always go grocery shopping for him and leave the bags at his door. Ha ha, it will be like I am knocking and running!

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

BUT, in the mean time, I was around sick people in my work as a computer consultant.

I was VERY careful to stay out of 'breathing' range (for cough), and not touch my face after touching anyone's keyboard...

Maybe you could call your doctor, and explain the situation...ask what you can do...it's a shame to not visit your dad...maybe find out which pneumonia he had...viral or bacterial...before you call your doc...

Oh, and I REALLY ramped up my antioxidents....green tea, blueberries, etc...kept my WBC count climbing toward normal (well, that and time...lol!).

Dutch knuffels, Kathi

Clementine_P's picture
Posts: 516
Joined: Feb 2011

Good advice - I will call and find out what kind of pneumonia he has and what the onc has to say about it. A year seems to be what I am hearing on immune systems so I am betting that that is right. I really don't want to catch anything right now as I feel like I am starting to hit my stride again and definitely don't want a setback. Thanks again!

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