Topic: Experience with Gem/Cis chemotherapy
I did a quick search for a recent post exclusively on experiences with gem/cis chemotherapy and didn't see one, so I'm starting this post in the hopes that it'll be useful for those who are going through the treatment (or considering it) to hear about other people's experiences. This was inspired by Patricia’s (Lady Linden) question, to chemo or not to chemo, and by my own skepticism when I heard that there was no specific chemo drug for cc.
My mom, who’s 67 and retired, had her 5th gem/cis this week. Today is her 9th day in her Cycle 3 (she has chemo for two weeks then rests one week).
On her days 8,9, and 10 for both this cycle and last, she's been experiencing shortness of breath. I read on the discussion boards that this is a common side effect of the chemo. I wonder if she should skip exercising on days like this. She tries to get in at least 30 minutes of walking every day, but she sounded so weak on the phone today that I wonder if she's up for it. I did tell her to listen to her body and not push herself too much.
The other night during this cycle, she had really bad pain in her ribs. During her latest check-up, her ONC told her that sometimes this particular chemo treatment could cause bone marrow loss that could cause bone pains, so I wonder if this is related. The doc said that some people take Claritin on the days before, of, and after chemo to alleviate the pain, but my mom hasn’t tried this.
I told my mom about the discussion board's resounding support for taking pain medications as needed, so she's more open to taking them, but she still hasn't taken any as of now. She said she considered it for the rib pain, but she didn't want to take it on an empty stomach as doing so has given her problems before. Right now, she thinks she can get by on just taking dexamethasone on the two days following chemo.
She's had constipation once or twice since starting chemo, but she's been okay with just eating prunes or drinking green juice first thing in the morning to treat it.
Her 19-9 tumor markers are going down steadily (296 to 221, then to 192), but there was a rise in her CEA numbers (9.2 to 9.0 to 13.9). When I asked the nurse about this, he said that a number of things could explain that rise but that the only certain thing that'll give a definite answer is a CT scan, which she is scheduled for at the end of December.
She experienced some tingling sensations in her fingers, but they haven’t been too bad. Her overall pain and discomfort are decreasing, so right now, fatigue is the biggest side effect she’s experiencing. She felt nauseated just once or twice before eating, but again, not bad enough that she hasn’t been able to eat. In fact, she’s been eating well and is not losing any weight.
She did get acupuncture to help with the discomfort two weeks ago, but it didn’t help her too much – maybe because she wasn’t in too much pain to begin with. The acupuncturist told her to come back after she’s done with chemotherapy (he also told her that based on his diagnosis, he didn’t think she had cancer; I got very angry about this irresponsible “diagnosis,” so I’m not exactly sad that he told her not to come during chemo).
She has two more weeks of chemo before the scan, which will mean she will have had 4 cycles by then. I’ll provide updates with her future lab work results if anything seems out of the ordinary. In the meantime, it might be useful to have all the gem/cis related concerns/tips/success stories in one post, so I would be very grateful if some of you shared your own experiences as well.