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Coughing after chemo starts?


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Hi all,

My mom has sclc and just finished her 3rd day of chemo. 1st round.

She's still in hospital (thank goodness!) but two nights in a row now she's been coughing real bad with some plegm (her cough up to now was dry). The first night, they thought it was because of fluid buildup so gave her some laysix(sp?) and a sedative as she was panicking. This seemed to help. In between she had some ventalin to help with her breathing.

Last night saw the same thing. Not as bad (no laysix) but still enough to have them give her ventalin and mask her to keep her O2 level up above 90.

All this seems to happen at night. During the day shes fine.

Is increased coughing with plegm "normal" after chemo starts? I'm thinking this is a sign that those nasty cells are dying off, but don't know for sure.

The nurses have been great for the most part, but they've said that because everyone is different, its kind of hard to tell if this is a side effect or if something else is going on. The Dr. took an xray yesterday, but as of last night the results "weren't back yet".

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First, I am still working to get you an answer re: the types of chemo my Mom had. She's a hard woman to get a hold of these days!

My Mom definitely experienced an increase in coughing when she was getting chemo. She was told it was a side effect of lung cancer treatment. Hers remained dry although she developed some cough with phlegm when radiation was added to the regimen (the phlegm was really thick - rinsing her mouth with soda water was helpful and is something for you to consider going forward).

Panicking is a normal reaction when things happen that impact our breathing - my Mom did it too. She was given Ativan when the anxiety became too much and in her case, it proved useful in calming her nerves.

Keep your chin up - you're doing a wonderful thing for your Mom. The first days are scary and you're holding it together - which is a credit to you. Let us know the test results when they come.

I continue to pray for you and your family.


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Thanks for the heads up Kel! Maybe I'll pick up some soda water tomorrow on the way to the hospital.

She's not coughing as much today as she was yesterday, but she says her stomach is so sore from all the coughing she did last night anyway. Sleeping a lot, which is good. Today we just concentrated on getting her to eat - everything tastes spicy/peppery to her and hoping to get her able to breathe without supplemental O2 and still stay above 90.

The oncologist told me a few days ago that we wouldn't be doing radiation right away because the "field?" was too large and she is a small woman. So he said we'd re-examine that issue after a few rounds of chemo. Does this sound right to you guys?

I suspect we'll be getting the results of the bone scan and brain scan tomorrow. They certainly have taken their time in getting the results - or at least talking about them. I'm not looking forward to that meeting, but trying to think positive about it. A little bit of good news would be nice for a change :!:

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Hey Deruo,

Radiation therapy involves attacking the cancer with a beam of radiation. If my guess is right, your oncologist wants to try to shrink the tumour with chemo to start with to narrow the field at which the beam is aimed at. This helps maximize the effects of treatment.

The good news is that SCLC is very responsive to chemotherapy. In my Mom's case, there was good shrinkage of the tumour by the chemotherapy. Before her third cycle of chemo she also began radiation treatments (28 days). Towards the end of the radiation cycle they were again able to narrow the field of treatment, showing that more shrinkage had occurred. Radiation will also continue to work in the body for a few months after treatment has ended, if I remember correctly. In her case, the treatment also intensified at the very end causing some major skin burns on her chest and back.

Let us know how the test results go - here's to hoping that they come back clean! The waiting is the worst part - it's agonizing! I torture myself by trying to look at the scans and x-rays to see if I can find anything and when someone points at them or looks at them for too long, I get really nervous. We've been fortunate though - the doctors really make an effort to look things over carefully (and more than once, often) and all scans/x-rays other than the original tumour have come back negative. We continue to be grateful for that significant mercy.



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