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Husband recently diagnosed has missed 2 weeks of chemo due to low WBC

Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2019

Hi everyone,

I hope I'm not breaking any protocol by having this be my first official post on this forum, though I've been reading for a while.

My 46-year-old husband was diagnosed with colon cancer about 2 months ago. He had a colostomy and the surgeon said it will not be resectable because it's on the verge of being colon and rectal cancer and his official diagnosis is both. The surgeon said that after the surgery, my husband is not cancer-free because they weren't able to get it all. 15 of the 25 lymph nodes they tested around the colon area were positive as well, but it hasn't spread to the liver.

The oncologist said his prognosis was "guarded" and that it was the worst case he had seen in a couple of years, but he's still pursuing a cure. 

My husband had one round of Folfox-6 three weeks ago, which he tolerated well. He was supposed to have another round last week, but they had to cancel it because his white blood cell count was too low. They figured they would wait a week and try again, which was today. His WBC went down even further, so it was canceled again and they're going to try next week. 

I don't see how his WBC will be high enough a week from now to get chemo if they went down even further from last week. I'm trying not to freak out and am trying to be positive for him, but all of this sounds really bad.

Has anyone else had to have a couple weeks in a row of their chemo get canceled due to low WBC? If so, did it have any effect on the overall outcome?


Holly in TX

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6711
Joined: Feb 2009

It's common for the WBC and RBC to tank after several treatments because it starts taking a toll on the immune system.  They might want to start something to boost the WBC like Neupogen or Neulasta to get it up.  My husband gave me the Neupogen shots every day for 3-4 days before treatment so my counts would go up.  It's common to go several weeks before treatment to get those counts up.  If you don't, your husband could be in jeopardy of bleeding out because the WBC is too low.  Don't worry about skipping a week or two of treatment as the chemo works way beyond the time he has taken it.  Welcome to the board and sorry you have to be here but we are a great group with a lot of knowledge and can help you, and him, get throught this.


abita's picture
Posts: 1022
Joined: Dec 2017

Mine dropped too low more than once and I had to skip weeks.I was always able to get it the next week. Mine dropped VERY low sometimes. I know it is scary. Just keep him away from germs, if he gets a cut or scratch take it seriously. Better safe than sorry. It is also a big let down to have all the stress of psyching yourself up to go in for chemo, then be sent home to come back the next week.

Once, when my count was low, but okay enough to get the chemo, I had to tell them any scratch or such because I had been having low dips in my count. I casually mentioned an ingrown toenail that was red and hurting. Next thing I knew, 5 people were there maing me take my shoe off and showing them. BUT, I had had a previus incident with an ingrown hair that my body couldn't fight because of the low counts. It got really bad before I showed my doctor, and apparently if I had waited much longer, would have had to go into the hospital, BUT, they gave me antibiotics, pushed all the pus out, it was huge took 20 minutes, and it all healed. Don't be afraid to be the squeaky wheel. They want to know because they want to heal their patients.

Posts: 17
Joined: Jun 2019

I would add to make sure he wears a mask in public places where there are lots of people, and to avoid those that are sick completely. WBCs are the cells that attack and kill germs that would otherwise make one sick. Lots of good hand hygiene can go a long ways.

Steelkiwi686's picture
Posts: 68
Joined: May 2019

When my levels were too low for treatment I had to skip one and that helped but not enough. I was put on neulasta shot once a cycle after disconnecting the take home ball. I’m still on it. My sister disconnects me at home and then gives me the shot and I’m good to go for another two weeks. It has helped tremendously along with the above suggestions from others. I’m happy to receive it. (Especially when I see the astronomical price charged) I will say if you get on it Id strongly suggest taking Claritin to reduce or prevent the sometimes excruciating bone pain that affects many. I take it two days before the shot and at least five days after and whether related or not I have seen very little to no side effects on it.  It’s not for everyone but I feel grateful to have it in the toolbox. I never missed another treatment since not have I been sick with anything (colds flu infection etc)and I’ve been on chemo for almost a year. Best wishes to you and your husband that you will find what works for him and be back on track soon. 

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 5460
Joined: Jan 2013

Many of us have suffered the dreadded drop in numbers. WBC, RWC & Platlettes. I had them all. I even had a blood transfusion becasue of the low RBC, and Neupogen every day for weeks with the WBC. 

EndoRN is correct about the mask. Very important for him to wear, regardless of if you think people are sick or not. Don't take chances. I remember feeling very concious about it, people looking at me and everything, but I stuck it out.

Wishing your husband the best, and thinking of you also. It is not easy watching a loved one going through trials.

And we don't have any protocol here - well, a few rules - so don't be worrying about your posts. Post often, and we will help you through this.



Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2019

Thanks to everyone who answered, I really appreciate it.

I'm concerned that his doctors didn't tell him anything to do about the low WBC. He found a list of things to do when your immune system is compromised from some other cancer center by looking online. I'm not sure if it warrants going to a better hospital system in our area that's a bit further away. 

I'm glad to know he's not the only one who's gone through this. It feels really scary especially because he wasn't cancer-free after his surgery.


abita's picture
Posts: 1022
Joined: Dec 2017

They may think he knows. Or it may be that it didn't drop as low as mine did. Mine dropped very low for me to get the talk. I mean, so very very low. I may have even asked. Plus, the infection from ingrown hair was a big reason in my case. They even did blood cultures. 

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