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First Day of Chemo/Radiation


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Hi! My mom is was recently diagnosed with Stage IIIB squamous cell lung cancer. Today was day one of chemo and radiation. We go back in the morning for day 2. She is getting radiation 5 days a week for 6-8 weeks and chemo every 21 days to start. She is receiving taxol and carboplatin and does not have a port yet. The nurse said she will have her port before the next treatment. I am of course worried, but steadily by her side. I guess I wish had a better idea of what to expect over the next few weeks. I'm hopeful and have given this situation to God, but it's still very taxing and I'm sure the hard part hasn't even begun. 

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Welcome Sawright,

Your mother and I have a lot in common.  We share a diagnostic stage and type -- I'm a IIIB Squamous cell NSCLC survivor.  I had your mom's same first line treatment: Daily radiation and 6 cycles of weekly infused taxol and Carboplatin

Ok, I believe your mother's chemo is a weak dose because it is a companion therapy for the radiation that does the real work.  In my first line treatment, I had few side effects from chemo.  I didn't even lose my hair.  But radiation was another story.  It is the inverse of March: it comes in like a lamb and finishes like a lion.  During my first two weeks of radiation, I hardly noticed a thing.  That all changed in my third week when I developed a painful sunburn-like rash on my chest and a continuous dry non productive cough.  I received medication that eased these problems but as daily radiation treatments progressed, my energy level dramatically declined.  I spend the last week of radiation in bed except for the travel to the clinic.  So your mom will likely need some assistance during form the third week through the end of her radiation treatment.

You should also expect this treatment to work.  It did for me.  It shrunk my tumor so much that the radiologist report wondered if I ever had a tumor. While your mom's first line treatment should work, be mindful that lung cancer is very persistent.  Here is a blog I wrote sometime ago about a National Cancer Institute study on the frequency of lung cancer recurrence.  You should be mindful of a recurrence possibility for lung cancer treatment is rarely one and done.  That said, I'm still alive 13 years after diagnosis and if I can live so can your mother.

Here is a resource I wrote several years ago.  Steps four, five, seven, eight, nine and ten might be useful information for your mother.  I see you've already abided by step six.

Finally, about midway through her treatments and about two weeks after treatment, she'll likely have a CT or PET-CT scan to assess effectiveness.  I'm looking forward to your announcement of a NED (no evidence of disease) result to us when your mom concludes treatment.

Questions? Ask away.

Stay the course.



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