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Chemo starting...what to expect for my Dad?

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Hi everyone, if some of you recall from my introduction post (other forum), my Dad will begin chemo tomorrow along with his regular radiation treatments. Is chemo as bad as in years past? I'm worried as to how it will make him feel. The radiation seems to zap his energy, I hate to think of how he'll be with both.

Anyone who can share their chemo experience? Thank you!!

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Hi Kristi. Chemo is definitely way more tolerable than in the past. It is nothing like you see in the movies, etc. And the medication they give you to combat nausea is very good. But, there are potential side effects which you will be told. And, everyone's experience with chemo is different. Some just sail through and others suffer from side effects. However, the side effects can be managed as well.

I sailed through my first line treatments of cisplatin and etoposide, just a few down days a number of days after treatment and then I would bounce back. And, I was receiving radiation at the same time. Later on, I received some 2nd and 3rd line chemos (alimta and gemzar) which I did not tolerate well. And who knows why. For most patients, these chemo drugs are quite tolerable. So, every patients experience will be different.

The most important thing to remember during chemo is to drink, drink, drink....tons of water and other liquids. Even if the patient doesn't feel like eating....drink lots. And watch out for constipation. If this is a common side effect of the chemo drug your dad is on then make sure you have plenty of senokot on hand.

The best way to approach it is to assume you are not going to suffer from any side effects. The mind can be powerful. And then if you do experience some, there are lots of tricks to managing them.

Here's hoping your dad sails through chemo and finishes off his radiation treatment in the best health possible. He will not feel 100% when he is done as it takes awhile to recover from all this. Gaining your energy back can take some months, but it can be done.

Take care, your dad is lucky to have you watching out for him.


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Do you know what chemo regemin your dad will be on? My mo has done two courses. One was carboplatin/taxol and the second was carbplatin.taxol/avastin. Chemo was not nearly as bad as she feared it would be. Generally she was fine the day she took the chemo and for the next couple of days. By the third day she would begin to feel tired and achy and that would last for 2-3 day and then she would start coming back up again. She had very little problem with nausea (in fact most of the nausea she experienced came from the radiation). The day after her chemo she would get a nelasta shot to keep her white blood cell count up. She hated that shot as that seemed to make her bones and joint hurt for a few days. BUT her white counts have always stayed high and she has never gotten an infection. Mom took one treatment ever 21 days. She sttok radiation and chemo separately so it will probably make a difference if you dad is receiving both at the same time.

Tell us a little more about the chemo your dad is receiving. There is smeone here who will be happy to share their experiences with it and offer advice for coping with any side effects.

Best of luck to your dad!


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Hi Kristi-

I agree with the others - chemo is NOT what it used to be. They can give your dad pre-meds that will help prevent a lot of the side effects. My chemo nurse's mom had LC about 15 years ago before they started with all these new pre-meds and now that her cancer has come back, refuses to take chemo again for fear of those side effects. So you see, they have come a long way in that regard.

I am on my 5th line of chemo and have NEVER EVER gotten sick from any of them. I guess I have been blessed in that way but most of my side effects have been fatigue and some SOB. And that I can handle.

If you can let us know the specific chemos he will be getting, we can help you better to let you know things like hair loss, etc.

Good luck and please keep us posted. Your dad is lucky to have you by his side.

Hugs - Patti B.

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Hello Kristi,

The chemo of today is a far cry from yesteryear. My husband, Bill, began a concurrent regimen of carboplatin/taxol and radiation (7 weeks duration) over four years ago.

Through all of that, and subsequent infusions, he has never experienced nausea. The most prevalent side effect was a certain fatigue in one or more of the regimens.

Some chemotherapies effect the blood counts, but that is not with all by any means, and can be addressed as one is progressing through treatments.

When advised about hydrating during chemo, I can attest to that - absolutely. Bill was encouraged to keep drinking liquids.

I have always thought that was the reason he had an "easier" time with all the regimens. It flushes out the kidneys and helps rid the body of toxins.

Most especially, the nausea meds were very effectove. If one doesn't work, another might do very well. There are several from which to choose.

Everyone's body is different, of course, but in the main, I wanted to give you an example of an "elder guy" who has been through a number of chemotherapies. He still looks very well, and so far, has maintained his weight (lost some at times, but regained) thankfully.

Try to keep positive and know that this is doable.

Sending you good thoughts,


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Thank you all so much for the quick replies! I'm so relieved that he can still live life while undergoing chemo.

Susan, my Mom gave me these drug names - Taxol and Paraplatin. He had his first treatment this morning so I'll call later this afternoon (after his nap :wink: ) to see how he's feeling. He was in good spirits while undergoing the treatment. Mom said he was joking around which is music to my ears. I'm very encouraged by his good attitude so far.

Thanks again for the replies, it helps to hear these things from someone who has "been there done that". You are all an inspiration to me. I passed along the "lots of water" advice to my Mom as well.

P.S. I've updated my Dad's story and a picture of my parents in my signature. I'll try to keep it updated with his progress!

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Hi, Kristi. Thanks for getting the names of your dad's chemo drugs. Paraplatin is the trade name for Carboplatin, and in most of our posts here you'll see it called Carboplatin or just Carbo. So when you look through our profiles or My Story posts, whenever you see the combination Taxol/Carboplatin or Taxol/Carbo, you'll know that's the same thing your dad is getting.

The most common side effect is fatigue, which usually doesn't set in until the steroids he probably received as an IV "pre-med" wear off a day or so after the infusion. If he's getting his chemo weekly (the typical schedule for those also receiving radiation), he may not feel the cyclical ups and downs to the extent those of us on the 3-week chemo schedule experienced. I have a rather detailed description of my Taxol/Carbo side effects in the link below. Most people don't have the same skin issues I experienced, so you can probably skim over those parts. But peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling and sometimes shooting pains in the hands and feet) is a potentially serious side effect and should be reported to the onc immediately if it occurs. Again, there may be less chance of that on the weekly schedule. The bottom line for me was that although the Taxol/Carbo was not a lot of fun, I was never debilitated to the point that I couldn't do something productive every day. Let us know what specific things start to happen with your dad and many of us can pass along some good tips. Aloha,


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Kristi--Mom has tolerated the Carbo/Taxol very well. Her infusion days are very long (5-6 hours) so I bought her an iPod shuffle and loaded it with her favorite music. She says it really helps her to pass the time while she is getting the infusion.

Yes--make sure your dad drinks lots of water. Mom also sucks on ice chips while receiving chemo to prevent mouth sores. So far, so good. He will also probably lose his hair (it's the taxol). Mom lost hers completely wthing 3 weeks of her first treatment.

She was pleasantly surprised by how well he tolerated it. While it's not fun, she continues to go to her quilting group, Bible study, book club, etc. In other words she is living life. Last weekend she traveled to watch my youngest niece in her HS play. She has learned to stop and rest when she feels fatigued, but otherwise sticks to her normal routine as much as possible.

The best part--after her first course of radiation and chemo, she was stable and off treatment for a full year!

Kepp us updated and ask any questions you need to.


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