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Lets Talk Chemo

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by cancertakesflight on May 21, 2019 12:37 am


Welcome to the site and the wonderful world of chemo. I had my chemo in 2011, which is when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The reason, I believe, for the diarrhea is that your liver deals with the toxins in your system and it gets maxed out with the chemo treatments. Since it can't fully process everything, diarrhea is your liver's way of getting the toxins out of your body quickly. So almost think of diarrhea as a good thing. :-)

This taxing of the liver is another reason that each treatment can feel a little worse than the last one. If the liver has not processed all the toxins from one treatment (or is sort of in recovery mode from the last treatment), it has to deal with the new toxins and possibly some toxins from the previous round. 

So maybe it would be good to do something nice for your liver. Some green tea might prove helpful. As always, talk to your doctor to see if there is anything you can eat or drink that might help support your liver. It's an under-appreciated organ.

As for the hot flashes, I didn't experience any but it could because chemo will likely, if you are not already, put you into menopause (even temporarily). Like everyone is quick to point out, you should check with your doctor. This is just my theory. 

You seem to be doing everything right. Back when I had my chemo, no one told me to drink more fluids. I was trying to avoid drinks while I was having chemo so that I didn't have to wheel the contraption with the IV into the washroom with me. I wish I had known. I didn't drink anything more at home. See, years later, I'm still learning. 

Take care of yourself. 

Thanks for the tag Cynthia Mac‍ 

cancertakesflight (Debbie)

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Buffythevampire on May 21, 2019 1:20 am

On an appointment I had with a nurse learning how to do the grastofil injection, I mentioned about being hot at night and she didn't seem too concerned. I am also 53 so hot flashes are not new to me. When I have been exceptionally warm, I check my temperature and so far it's normal.

At first I was using a notebook to record things, but now I have changed to a binder. I want to document my chemo cycles and maybe I will be able to be better prepared for the side effects start dates. Fingers crossed anyway.

What I was wondering about the diarrhea part is not that you get it each cycle but whether you will get it more then once in the same cycle? So far it happened just the one day but I took meds to stop it. I have also been drinking hydralite since I had diarrhea. Hoping that hydralite will replace the lost fluids/electrolytes.

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Runner Girl on May 21, 2019 10:40 am

Buffythevampire‍ ,

I got the hot flashes with chemo/Herceptin.  I was constantly taking my temperature to make sure I wasn't feverish, and I never was.  By mid way thru my treatment I quit with the thermometer.  My hot flashes continue, but much worse now that I'm on Tamoxifen.  I get the night sweats too.  I wake up and it's covers off because I'm too hot, then it's covers on because I'm freezing.  It's like my internal thermostat has gone crazy.  I never had much grief with my natural hot flashes but the ones I get now are spectacular, I turn red - ears, throat, chest, I break out in a sweat and feel like I'm about to spontaneously combust.  Not pleasant, but not the worst side effect ever.

As for the diarrhea, I never had a problem.  I suffer from IBS-D so I was extremely concerned that the chemo would make my existing issue a bigger problem.  Turns out, while I was having chemo my gastro issues normalized and for a while I felt just like a normal person again.  I suppose the chemo was making me a bit constipated but with my existing issue it wasn't a real problem.  Now that chemo has been over for 6 months my IBS-D is back to it old self, unfortunately.

Wishing you well with the remainder of your treatments.

Runner Girl - Gayle

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by TheresaB on May 23, 2019 1:05 pm

I am starting my first chemo treatment next Thursday, May 30th. 4 treatments, once every 3 weeks and then a second set of treatment sessions once every week for 12 treatments. 4. I don't know which drugs I will be on at each of these treatments because the nurse just wrote AC/wkly TAXOL on the Fever Card she gave me for the paramedics incase I get a high fever and have to go to the emergency department. The 3 listed in the binder they gave me when I had my first visit with the Oncologist on Tuesday has these 3 drugs listed. Doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide and Paclitaxel. I don't know if anyone recognizes these drugs but I am assuming that they are the ones I will be given.

Anyway, I have gleamed a lot of information from this thread. Thank you.

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Essjay on May 23, 2019 7:34 pm

Hi TheresaB‍ sounds like you are on the same drugs as me. In which case you will have AC first (doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide), then Paclitaxel.

Glad things are getting started for you. You will very quickly get into the routine.

best wishes Essjay

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by ashcon on May 24, 2019 10:11 am

Hi TheresaB

The "cocktail" you have been prescribed is very common, and is what I was put on as well.  Sometimes the Paclitaxel is called "Taxol", making the acronym for your cocktail "ACT". 

The doxorubicin is unaffectionately called 'the red devil' as it is a bright red fluid that is administered separately from the cyclophosphomide and is apparently the stuff largely esponsible for the hairloss. 
I found the first 4 rounds of AC caused the most nausea for first few days after treatment, which was kept in check with the anti-nausea meds prescribed, along with Ginger Gravol tablets. 

With the Taxol, there was (thankfully) no nausea, but the increased steroid meds prescribed to accompany the Taxol caused increase in hunger and energy levels! The fatigue on the Taxol didn't hit until 2-3 days after treatment, when the steroids finally started to wear off! 

As Essjay‍ says, you will find your groove. Odd as it may sound, I actually felt sad when treatments came to an end as I felt like the weapons against my cancer were being withdrawn, and I was now becoming vulnerable again.  But I understand the body can only take so much of the toxic stuff that chemo is. 

What are your plans for dealing with your hair loss? There are some great conversations and tips on this topic on this site. Just use the search engine at top of screen within any Discussion or Group forum. 

​​​​​As many have said, you are not alone in this. We are here with you every step of the way. 
Be good to yourself this weekend! 

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by TheresaB on May 29, 2019 12:50 pm

Thanks Ash for the clarification. I kind of remember the Oncology nurse saying something about a red devil. Wasn't sure what she meant. 😊 There was so much to take in that day.

I am starting my chemo tomorrow. Nervous as all heck but I have to do this. 🌞

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by luvcurling on Jun 13, 2019 3:47 pm

I just wanted to post that I've just completed my chemo - last dose of Docetaxel was on Friday - Yahoo! Some of the side effects are a bit different with this cycle; lots of heartburn; periodic diarrhea; and fluid retention. Some are unfortunately the same and I'm still suffering but I can do this as it's the last time - bone, joint, muscle pain, fatigue, taste buds are totally off and so is my appetite. I haven't decided when to have my IVAD removed - my radiation oncologist suggested to leave it in until the end of my treatments - I'm curious what everyone else did and what guided their decision. (By the way, the IVAD really made the last three cycles easier for me! I'm so glad I accepted it.)

Those of you that are just starting your chemo make sure you discuss with your team any and all side effects that may happen. It really is helpful to understand everything that might be possible - I did a "happy" dance for every side effect that I didn't get! Do tell your team about the side effects you have, as they can often make a difference with them.

I had my setup CT yesterday in preparation for radiotherapy - I have three dot size permanent tattoos now, but can only find two of them - as long the the radiation techs can find them that's all that matters, right? Radiation will start in about 4 weeks or when they can schedule me in; it'll be nice to have this time to recover. I'll be getting 20 treatments.

Luvcurling - Colleen 🐶🥌🤗


Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Jun 13, 2019 4:05 pm


Congratulations on completing your chemo! Always great to tick another treatment off the list. And thank you for sharing some chemo tips for others.

As to the tattoos - the tech that did mine told me if I looked REAL carefully, that one was a dragon lol

2 years after treatment I got my first "real" tattoo as I didn't want those 3 dots to be my tattoo legacy 😉

Enjoy this break from treatment and do some things that you really enjoy!  Then try to  get some rest because as you have probably heard, radiation can be quite fatiguing for a lot of people.



Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Buffythevampire on Jun 13, 2019 10:34 pm

I have now had 2 out of 6 chemo cycles and so far nothing major. I am quite surprised actually. I am on herceptin, docetaxel and carboplatin. I have had diarrhea, hot flashes, taste bud issues, hair loss and tiredness but nothing major. My hair I decided to have shaved to 3/8" but then got it totally shaved but it seems to still be growing (patchy). I am not sure whether my body is accepting the drugs without issues or else the major side effects are still to come. Crossing fingers that I am one of the lucky one's with few symptoms.

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Essjay on Jun 14, 2019 8:18 am

Hi luvcurling‍ I am getting ‘de-ported’ today! I’m really glad I had it for all those blood tests and chemo infusions, but I will be glad to see the back of it. I’m a skinny gal, and it gives me the heeby-geebies . I’m convinced I’ll wake up one morning and it’s popped out cos it’s so close to the surface and I can feel all it’s features. I finished radiation last week, so the time works for me. I still have six monthly preventative infusions, but it’s not worth keeping it and having to have it flushed regularly just to avoid needle pokes. 

Good luck with the radiation. I found the planning session hard because I have neuropathy in my hands and I was uncomfortable and it took some time. However, the techs came up with a plan for my hands and by session 2 we had things worked out. Fatigue is an issue for me. I am returning to work gently - I did some work around radiation because the clinic is 5 minutes from my office, but I’m finding I can’t push it. That’s ok - I want to get back to the gym regularly too. It’s all about getting all aspects of my life back.

good Luck!


Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Jun 14, 2019 10:09 am

Good luck with your "de-portation" today ( ha I love that) 😉


Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Buffythevampire on Jun 24, 2019 10:35 pm

My last chemo treatment gave me a chemo burn. Dr suggested a port. It's too late for my next treatment as it's tomorrow. I am going to ask my Dr. some questions but I thought I would try asking here also. I have 6 chemo treatments (tomorrow is #3) then I have 11 herceptin treatments. That's a lot of needles. The first time I got 2 needles and the second time I got three needles.

Did anyone get a chemo port and do you have any regrets? 
Can you drive too and from the day you get your port installed?
How do you care for the port?
Can you shower with it?
Will it delay my future breast surgeries?


Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Aries on Jun 24, 2019 10:53 pm

Buffythevampire‍ - hello! so glad you asked about a port, I have one and to be honest when they originally told me about it I was scared to get it as it is a minor surgery but 6 cycles of chemo in (with 2 to go at this time) and a CT scan coming up, I am soooooo glad I got it. I have a 46hr infusion which I am at home for and the idea of having an IV in my arm during this time or even a PICC line would be so annoying and uncomfortable. The port is in my chest, and during the chemo treatment I cannot shower as I have a infusor bottle attached but I can have a good wash and wash my hair over a sink. Otherwise when the port is not in use, then I can shower freely.
The port can used for IV infusions and for contrasts for scans. 
If you have a lot of needles ahead of you and the port can be used for all of that, I would highly recommend it just for ease and pain reduction. I don't really feel the port of the infusion.

I hope this helps - good luck and keep us posted!

Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by luvcurling on Jun 25, 2019 12:02 am

HI Buffythevampire‍ ,

My major vein in my left arm was also burned from my chemo - after #2. It's never going to be the same and still causes pain with some movement. After a careful exam of my arm and all possible veins in the arm (I can only use my left arm because I had axilla node dissection on the other arm) it was a discussion about a PICC line or an IVAD (port); due to my activity level I choose the IVAD as it's totally under the skin and it requires flushing once a month if it's not being used that often. Honestly, this was a great decision for me; I received my last three chemo treatments with it and at least I only had one needle prick (the slight pain from it subsides very quickly) each time versus 2 or 3 and being stressed out that they wouldn't be able to find a vein. 

Likely every cancer centre will have their own guidelines for driving there and home, care of the site and showering, so I won't give advice on that, but yes you will be able to shower freely (based on their advice) and do most activities after the first few days - my centre suggested light activities for the first few days - driving was okay. I would suggest you give your surgeon a call about it interfering with the rest of his treatment -get the answers right from him.  

From my perspective, a port is the way to go. Good luck with your decision!


Re: Lets Talk Chemo

Posted by Essjay on Jun 25, 2019 8:09 am

Hi Buffythevampire‍ I had a port on the advice of my oncologist.

It was inserted under conscious sedation, although I don’t know how conscious I was as I remember absolutely nothing. I had to have a driver and someone at home for 24 hours. I actually did some work from home after, and felt fine.

i was really glad to have the port. It looked a bit grim on me because I have almost no adipose tissue, but it was easy for the nurses to access and there was no messing around trying to find a vein. I could do all my normal activities including pushing weights which I did until the chemo wiped me out too much. I totally recommend one. I was given lidocaine to rub on it before treatments, but I didn’t need it...

I had had mine removed ten days ago, despite being advised to keep it a while. I needed it out to feel like my treatment is done and I’m into the recovery from treatment. It helps me mentally get into the mindset of being positive about my cancer and not thinking about a recurrence.