wife stage 3B Colon cancer

very worried husband
very worried husband Member Posts: 88
edited March 2011 in Colorectal Cancer #1
Dear all,

I am new here and am glad i found this forum. my wife was dx colon 3b in January. she had her surgery on 28th jan and 15 cm of large intestine was removed. she had her first chemo on the 24th feb and she did ok with 5FU+ Oxiliplatin....she was supposed to have her 2nd chemo yesterday but it was postponed as the doctor said her WBC are low....i really dont know what does it mean? as the doctor said the WBC start falling after 3, 4 chemo but for her it is down even after the 1st?
is it common and has anyone experienced that???? i am really nervous as we just got married in december and she is dx with cancer in january.she is 26 now .it's a disaster for us.....i am also getting confused since her treatment is in china and all her reports are in chinese and i am translating it to english and then getting information about all this...

please help....
«1

Comments

  • okthen
    okthen Member Posts: 232
    Just wanted to say hi and I
    Just wanted to say hi and I am sorry about your wifes health troubles. My husband did not have WBC issues with his chemo ever, only platelet issues, his treatments were postponed due to that several times.
    It is hard when there is a reaction to chemo that doesn't fall in the "usual" time frame, makes me, us, worry even more. My husband is having horrible neuropathy after only 4 oxal (Folfox) treatmens...his Onc just said the other day he doesn't "usually" see that until 8 treatments...
    Did her doctor talk with you about WBC boosting medication, like Neulasta?...I hope I am remembering that name right....
  • Patteee
    Patteee Member Posts: 945
    I was also dx'd 3B in May
    I was also dx'd 3B in May 08. I too had my second chemo postponed after 1 treatment due to low WBC. In fact I was hospitalized the night I was to get treatment due to a blood infection! I did get back on track the following week and got WBC building shots for 2 cycles of treatment. (can't remember the name of it) And never had an issue with WBC again. So yes it does happen and it doesn't necessarily mean anything bad or wrong.
  • snowyswitzerland
    snowyswitzerland Member Posts: 11
    try not to panic
    Your wife was me a year ago. I am stage 3 and also had 15 cm of my colon removed. I am also in a country where I don't speak the language and all my records come in German (I am British living in Switzerland).
    A year later I have finished my chemo - I also had lots of problems with my WBC and lots of times my chemo had to be delayed. I now have check-ups every 3 months. This month will be my second check-up.
    Please try not to panic. This group is amazing and so full of information. My biggest mistake was to surf the internet scaring myself sick. In the end I told myself I would live in the present and only worry about what was reality and not what my imagination conjured up for me! I have 2 young daughters so it was and still is very important for me to be positive for them. As my oncologist told me, until proven otherwise I have no reason to not be positive.
    The other big thing for me was to cause a distraction. As crazy as it sounds I got two puppies whilst I was on chemo. These had been planned before I was diagnosed and I didn't what the cancer to win and for me to let my daughters down. It was tough getting up when I felt crap to let them pee - day and night! But more importantly it got me up and it meant I had to keep active, even when I could only shuffle and it took me over an hour to shower and get dressed.
    Both yourself and your wife are not alone. Just take things a day at a time.
    Anne
  • AncientTiger
    AncientTiger Member Posts: 130
    Sounds very familiar
    I also had stage 3,and had about the same amount of colon removed. And like your wife, I had 5FU along with Oxiliplatin. Chemo is a poison that kills "fast growing" cells in the body. Unfortunately, "fast growing cells" include white blood cells, and those associated with nerve endings in your hands and feet (hence the neuropathy). Docs don't like for your white blood count to get too low, as this is the way your body fights off infection that can come from bacteria that the body is exposed to each and every day. If that number is too low, then the risk of serious infection is too high for another dose of the chemo.

    They may "turn down" the dose somewhat to offset the damage being done to the white blood cell counts, and also any side effects your wife may have from the treatments.

    If I may ask, how many treatments is your wife recommended to receive? Mine was 12, one every two weeks... they also sent me home with a portable infuser that didn't dump it all in at once (which was NIIIIIIIII-IIIIIIIIIICE).
  • CherylHutch
    CherylHutch Member Posts: 1,375
    No panic! We are here to help you through all of this!
    Oh my goodness... I can just imagine what you and your wife are going through. An emotional rollercoaster that has no bounds. First, the joy of getting married and starting a new life (congratulations... you two will work this out together!), then the upheavel of having both your lives thrown upside down. So right now... the best advice is to just ignore all and any horror stories your imaginations are setting up for you. You have found this forum which is sooooo good that you have. You don't need to go out on the internet now and look up information because 90% of it is out of date or just plain wrong.

    You come here with all your questions, no matter how small or inconsequential... we have so many experienced people here who have been through it all first hand. We can get you the answers to your questions... and the support you will get here is unbelievable.

    Yes, language can certainly be a barrier... does her doctor or someone on his staff speak fluent English who can take the time to explain to you what the various reports mean? Or do you have a friend who you can have go over them and translate them to English? Either way... worse case scenerio, say you can't get an English translation.... when you go to her appointments (and there will be many, many of them), get yourself a nice big thick notebook. Write down questions in it whenever they hit you... even if its at 2am.... keep a section for all your questions. Of course, you can ask them here too, but there will be questions you want to ask her doctor... and when they give you the answers, write them down. This may sound silly and redundant, but seriously... our minds go into mini-shock and information overload so even if we THINK we are going to remember the answers, or understand the answers... it's amazing how much we don't remember them telling us. A big notebook will become your best friend, and probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give right now.

    Now... as for her low WBC. Totally normal and not unusual at all. Some people, for some reason, have no problem with WBC... but the chemos we put in our bodies are really strong toxins. Yes, I say toxins because that is what they are... we are pumping our bodies with poison, with the goal being that that poison is going to kill off any cancer cells that might be floating around in our systems. Cancer cells that are so minute, they can't be picked up by the naked eye or even our imaging technology. Of course, as the chemo is killing off these bad cells, it is also killing off the good cells too... and that's when the WBC can get really low. Doctors monitor this because you don't want them to get so low that it becomes dangerous. You will note that she has to get blood work done before every chemo session... and this is why... so they can check that the WBC is high enough to continue with the next chemo session. If it isn't, then they will either give her a week or so delay so the WBC can build itself up again, or they will give her help with a shot.

    Now, as for the chemo she's on (5FU + Oxiliplatin aka FOLFOX), this is a standard chemo that usually we all start out on. Some people tolerate it much better than others, only because we are all unique individuals... so no two people really have the same reaction. But there are common side affects that folk experience to different degrees. The one that most people have is the sensitivity to cold. If she feels this cold sensitivity, do not worry... it is so common that I'd be surprised if she didn't at some point.

    So, I won't overwhelm you with more babble... you just make yourself home here and if your wife feels up to it, have her join us too. I was diagnosed back in December 2006 and still fighting the good fight :)

    Cheryl
    (Vancouver... west coast of Canada)
  • here4lfe
    here4lfe Member Posts: 306 Member
    Talk To Your Oncologist
    My wife is stage 4, dx in July 09. She had platelet issues, but not WBC with the FOLFOX. She never had a treatment postponed, they would adjust the side effect meds according to her reactions (mostly Benadryl)

    Hang in there.

    Best
  • Buzzard
    Buzzard Member Posts: 3,043 Member
    First of all a few explanations..........
    WBC= white blood count...this is the immune system basically , it fights off all intruders as best it can..chemo sometimes while killing off bad cancer cells also destroys some good ones as well, these are the WBC or white blood cells....it also kills of rbc or red blood cells.....
    OK, now when the WBC count goes down then they have to stop the chemo until it regains its strength or the low WBC count may compromise her bodys ability to fight off other infections, etcetera...It is normal for patients on Folfox...especially with Oxaliplatin being a main ingredient of the Folfox to cause the WBC to go low, the Oncologists will normally do one of two things, he will give her 1 injection of Neulasta, or 2-3 injections of Neupagen depends on what they want to use and availability there. This will cause her WBC to start back going up and will allow her to start her chemo treatments again very soon, say in a week or so. The injections may give her a slight headache or lower back pain. The reason is that she will be producing WBC at a higher rate than normal and she may be a little uncomfortable for a couple of days. Normally a Tylenol does the trick.

    OK, something else....15 cms is about 7 inches...not much by most standards...she will come through like a champ but she will have side effects with the Folfox...some are very bad some aren't..dependant on her body makeup..but all are doable...

    Keep coming here...we will keep you up to date on everything you ask us...This is the most current information you could ever possibly get anywhere..we are living survivors that know on a first hand basis what things are and how they may affect us, also how to deal with most of them...This place will keep you sane...we are here 24/7...

    Remember, its not a disaster...its a part of your life that simply took a bad turn but will make each of you very much aware of the absolute beauty of the smallest things in life...You and your wife will see this as you travel this path...Keep reminding yourself, that this too will pass..and be kind to yourself as well as your wife..This does take a toll on the both of you..make sure to check yourself at the end of the day and assure that the 2 of you are still on the same page...This is an emotional journey as well as a physical one..Be kind to yourselves.......and keep in touch.....Love to you both
  • plh4gail
    plh4gail Member Posts: 1,238
    Hello just want you to know
    Hello just want you to know you're not alone in the worry department. But so far my though I have/had my own concerns, I seem to have managed through. I was diagnosed colorectal 3C in June and have had the chemo/radiation, 2 surgeries, then started the 12 rounds of Folfox. I made it through 6 of Folfox and on my 7th my onc changed to a different chemo combination called Folfiri. This was due to side effects. Your wife will probably be experiencing these as well, but we can hope they will be mild and tolerable.

    Good luck with the treatments and we will all be here to support you and your wife. Questions...ask away....you will always get replies.

    Love and hugs, Gail
  • tootsie1
    tootsie1 Member Posts: 5,044 Member
    Hi
    Goodness, you do have a situation. I can't imagine worrying about someone you love and trying to understand information about the case in another language.

    I'm glad you've found this group. You are NOT alone.

    *hugs*
    Gail
  • tootsie1
    tootsie1 Member Posts: 5,044 Member
    Hi
    Goodness, you do have a situation. I can't imagine worrying about someone you love and trying to understand information about the case in another language.

    I'm glad you've found this group. You are NOT alone.

    *hugs*
    Gail
  • christinecarl
    christinecarl Member Posts: 543
    Diagnosed IIIB 12/2/08
    I am sorry about your wife. I finished my chemo in June of 2009 and I am doing fine, I missed a chemo due to the blood count, but you get back to it and continue on. Please update often to let us know how things are.
  • okthen said:

    Just wanted to say hi and I
    Just wanted to say hi and I am sorry about your wifes health troubles. My husband did not have WBC issues with his chemo ever, only platelet issues, his treatments were postponed due to that several times.
    It is hard when there is a reaction to chemo that doesn't fall in the "usual" time frame, makes me, us, worry even more. My husband is having horrible neuropathy after only 4 oxal (Folfox) treatmens...his Onc just said the other day he doesn't "usually" see that until 8 treatments...
    Did her doctor talk with you about WBC boosting medication, like Neulasta?...I hope I am remembering that name right....

    Thanks
    Thanks okthen for your reply, and sorry I dont know the name of the injection they gave to her but they did 1 injection everyday for 3 days and now she needs to wait another day since the doctor says her WBC are too high now!!!!! Unfortunately I am not with her now since my visa finished and the chinese authorities refused to extend my visa there, so now i m in my home country to extend my visa!!!!!
  • Patteee said:

    I was also dx'd 3B in May
    I was also dx'd 3B in May 08. I too had my second chemo postponed after 1 treatment due to low WBC. In fact I was hospitalized the night I was to get treatment due to a blood infection! I did get back on track the following week and got WBC building shots for 2 cycles of treatment. (can't remember the name of it) And never had an issue with WBC again. So yes it does happen and it doesn't necessarily mean anything bad or wrong.

    Thanks
    Thanks Patteee for your reply.....I am so grateful to all of you...
  • try not to panic
    Your wife was me a year ago. I am stage 3 and also had 15 cm of my colon removed. I am also in a country where I don't speak the language and all my records come in German (I am British living in Switzerland).
    A year later I have finished my chemo - I also had lots of problems with my WBC and lots of times my chemo had to be delayed. I now have check-ups every 3 months. This month will be my second check-up.
    Please try not to panic. This group is amazing and so full of information. My biggest mistake was to surf the internet scaring myself sick. In the end I told myself I would live in the present and only worry about what was reality and not what my imagination conjured up for me! I have 2 young daughters so it was and still is very important for me to be positive for them. As my oncologist told me, until proven otherwise I have no reason to not be positive.
    The other big thing for me was to cause a distraction. As crazy as it sounds I got two puppies whilst I was on chemo. These had been planned before I was diagnosed and I didn't what the cancer to win and for me to let my daughters down. It was tough getting up when I felt crap to let them pee - day and night! But more importantly it got me up and it meant I had to keep active, even when I could only shuffle and it took me over an hour to shower and get dressed.
    Both yourself and your wife are not alone. Just take things a day at a time.
    Anne

    Thanks
    Thanks anne for your detailed reply....That is what I am doing day and night, surfing internet and its driving me crazy.....anyway I found this forum and its amazing.....
    Thank you so much for taking time and replying....
  • Sounds very familiar
    I also had stage 3,and had about the same amount of colon removed. And like your wife, I had 5FU along with Oxiliplatin. Chemo is a poison that kills "fast growing" cells in the body. Unfortunately, "fast growing cells" include white blood cells, and those associated with nerve endings in your hands and feet (hence the neuropathy). Docs don't like for your white blood count to get too low, as this is the way your body fights off infection that can come from bacteria that the body is exposed to each and every day. If that number is too low, then the risk of serious infection is too high for another dose of the chemo.

    They may "turn down" the dose somewhat to offset the damage being done to the white blood cell counts, and also any side effects your wife may have from the treatments.

    If I may ask, how many treatments is your wife recommended to receive? Mine was 12, one every two weeks... they also sent me home with a portable infuser that didn't dump it all in at once (which was NIIIIIIIII-IIIIIIIIIICE).

    Thanks
    Thanks ancient Tiger for your reply.....she is supposed to do 12 chemo after 2 weeks, she stays in hospital for 3 days, and one of the medicine takes 48 hours....
  • No panic! We are here to help you through all of this!
    Oh my goodness... I can just imagine what you and your wife are going through. An emotional rollercoaster that has no bounds. First, the joy of getting married and starting a new life (congratulations... you two will work this out together!), then the upheavel of having both your lives thrown upside down. So right now... the best advice is to just ignore all and any horror stories your imaginations are setting up for you. You have found this forum which is sooooo good that you have. You don't need to go out on the internet now and look up information because 90% of it is out of date or just plain wrong.

    You come here with all your questions, no matter how small or inconsequential... we have so many experienced people here who have been through it all first hand. We can get you the answers to your questions... and the support you will get here is unbelievable.

    Yes, language can certainly be a barrier... does her doctor or someone on his staff speak fluent English who can take the time to explain to you what the various reports mean? Or do you have a friend who you can have go over them and translate them to English? Either way... worse case scenerio, say you can't get an English translation.... when you go to her appointments (and there will be many, many of them), get yourself a nice big thick notebook. Write down questions in it whenever they hit you... even if its at 2am.... keep a section for all your questions. Of course, you can ask them here too, but there will be questions you want to ask her doctor... and when they give you the answers, write them down. This may sound silly and redundant, but seriously... our minds go into mini-shock and information overload so even if we THINK we are going to remember the answers, or understand the answers... it's amazing how much we don't remember them telling us. A big notebook will become your best friend, and probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give right now.

    Now... as for her low WBC. Totally normal and not unusual at all. Some people, for some reason, have no problem with WBC... but the chemos we put in our bodies are really strong toxins. Yes, I say toxins because that is what they are... we are pumping our bodies with poison, with the goal being that that poison is going to kill off any cancer cells that might be floating around in our systems. Cancer cells that are so minute, they can't be picked up by the naked eye or even our imaging technology. Of course, as the chemo is killing off these bad cells, it is also killing off the good cells too... and that's when the WBC can get really low. Doctors monitor this because you don't want them to get so low that it becomes dangerous. You will note that she has to get blood work done before every chemo session... and this is why... so they can check that the WBC is high enough to continue with the next chemo session. If it isn't, then they will either give her a week or so delay so the WBC can build itself up again, or they will give her help with a shot.

    Now, as for the chemo she's on (5FU + Oxiliplatin aka FOLFOX), this is a standard chemo that usually we all start out on. Some people tolerate it much better than others, only because we are all unique individuals... so no two people really have the same reaction. But there are common side affects that folk experience to different degrees. The one that most people have is the sensitivity to cold. If she feels this cold sensitivity, do not worry... it is so common that I'd be surprised if she didn't at some point.

    So, I won't overwhelm you with more babble... you just make yourself home here and if your wife feels up to it, have her join us too. I was diagnosed back in December 2006 and still fighting the good fight :)

    Cheryl
    (Vancouver... west coast of Canada)

    Thanks
    Thanks Cheryl for your reply. I am so grateful to all of you. You are all great.
    Re language, I found one guy in a university near the hospital where my wife is getting treatment, and he is kind enough to translate whatever I need.
    Re WBC I spoke to my wife today and she said now they are too high, so the doctor recommend to start chemo day after tomorrow. Atleast its a good news for me since I was scare that may be it will be delayed for some period.But again I dont know why are they so high after getting 3 injections over 3 days?
    Her first chemo went quite well as she had only one bad day in that, the rest of that was OK..I just wish she finish her chemo ASAP and never have a recurrence, AS WELL ALL OF YOU PEPLE.........AS YOU ARE ALL GREAT.........
    I could not imagined people will take their time in answering all these questions ......its overwhelming for me.......
  • here4lfe said:

    Talk To Your Oncologist
    My wife is stage 4, dx in July 09. She had platelet issues, but not WBC with the FOLFOX. She never had a treatment postponed, they would adjust the side effect meds according to her reactions (mostly Benadryl)

    Hang in there.

    Best

    Thanks
    Thnaks here4life for your encouragement.............
  • Buzzard said:

    First of all a few explanations..........
    WBC= white blood count...this is the immune system basically , it fights off all intruders as best it can..chemo sometimes while killing off bad cancer cells also destroys some good ones as well, these are the WBC or white blood cells....it also kills of rbc or red blood cells.....
    OK, now when the WBC count goes down then they have to stop the chemo until it regains its strength or the low WBC count may compromise her bodys ability to fight off other infections, etcetera...It is normal for patients on Folfox...especially with Oxaliplatin being a main ingredient of the Folfox to cause the WBC to go low, the Oncologists will normally do one of two things, he will give her 1 injection of Neulasta, or 2-3 injections of Neupagen depends on what they want to use and availability there. This will cause her WBC to start back going up and will allow her to start her chemo treatments again very soon, say in a week or so. The injections may give her a slight headache or lower back pain. The reason is that she will be producing WBC at a higher rate than normal and she may be a little uncomfortable for a couple of days. Normally a Tylenol does the trick.

    OK, something else....15 cms is about 7 inches...not much by most standards...she will come through like a champ but she will have side effects with the Folfox...some are very bad some aren't..dependant on her body makeup..but all are doable...

    Keep coming here...we will keep you up to date on everything you ask us...This is the most current information you could ever possibly get anywhere..we are living survivors that know on a first hand basis what things are and how they may affect us, also how to deal with most of them...This place will keep you sane...we are here 24/7...

    Remember, its not a disaster...its a part of your life that simply took a bad turn but will make each of you very much aware of the absolute beauty of the smallest things in life...You and your wife will see this as you travel this path...Keep reminding yourself, that this too will pass..and be kind to yourself as well as your wife..This does take a toll on the both of you..make sure to check yourself at the end of the day and assure that the 2 of you are still on the same page...This is an emotional journey as well as a physical one..Be kind to yourselves.......and keep in touch.....Love to you both

    Thanks
    Thanks Buzzard for such a detailed reply.she is going to start her chemo day after tomorrow, That means one day break after the 3 injections, as now her WBC is too high!!!! ( That is what is told to me by my wife)..and yes she had a severe headache yesterday after the injection....
    I am pasting the report

    Pathological diagnosis:
    1. (Epicolic lymph nodes) LN 5 nodes, no metastasis (0/5).
    2. (Paracolic lymph nodes ) LN 7 nodes, 4 nodes had metastasis (4/7), and 1 cancerous node.
    3. (Middle lymph nodes) LN 8 nodes, 3 nodes had metastasis (3/8), and 2 cancerous nodes.
    4. (Intermediate mesenteric lymph nodes) LN 9 nodes, no metastasis (0/9).
    5. (The specimen of colon tumor by colonectomy) well-differentiated adenocarcinoma of colon, invaded to all layer of the intestinal wall (T3), no cancerous plugs seen in the vessels, no neural tract invasion, the two cutting margin not involved with cancerous cells, omentum tissue had no metastasis.

    I dont know how bad are they? I was only told by the doctor that its well differentiated and it has better prognosis!!!!( i wish its true)....


    Thanks once again for taking your time....i really appreciate your kindness,.....
  • plh4gail said:

    Hello just want you to know
    Hello just want you to know you're not alone in the worry department. But so far my though I have/had my own concerns, I seem to have managed through. I was diagnosed colorectal 3C in June and have had the chemo/radiation, 2 surgeries, then started the 12 rounds of Folfox. I made it through 6 of Folfox and on my 7th my onc changed to a different chemo combination called Folfiri. This was due to side effects. Your wife will probably be experiencing these as well, but we can hope they will be mild and tolerable.

    Good luck with the treatments and we will all be here to support you and your wife. Questions...ask away....you will always get replies.

    Love and hugs, Gail

    Thanks
    Thanks Gail...her 1st chemo was not as bad as we expected, lets wait and see the 2nd one which is starting on sunday.....
    Thanks for your support
  • tootsie1 said:

    Hi
    Goodness, you do have a situation. I can't imagine worrying about someone you love and trying to understand information about the case in another language.

    I'm glad you've found this group. You are NOT alone.

    *hugs*
    Gail

    Thanks
    Thanks toostie1 ....and yes its soooooo difficult.....she had her surgery on 28th January and it was on the 13th Feb that i knew about her cancer stage as 3b......because I was unable to understand and found some1 that day who could translate it to English.....

    Thanks once again ....love you all....