1st dose herceptin and docetaxal - so many issues to deal with


I am hoping that someone can give ma sense of perspective please as I’m struggling.  I’ve had 4 doses of EC and have been moved onto herceptin and docetaxal.  I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus, problem is that when I spoke to the nurse about what to expect from the new meds she told me that it’s less intense  Excitedly told my family and obviously everyone was very happy for me.  However, this feels far worse than EC in a multitude of ways and now I feel like I can’t tell my family just how awful I feel as I don’t want  to worry them.  The list seems to go on forever: nausea, diarrhea, constipation, bones ache, sticky runny eyes, tonsils hurt, dry mouth, tongue hurts, scabby/sore inside my nose, headache, everything tastes vile, nails hurt etc.

I’m worrying that I am allowing my self to wallow in my own misery and need to have a word with myself.  Everyone keeps saying - only 3 more to go! But the thought of feeling like this another 3 times is almost too much. x

Hey! So sorry to hear this. I have had 4 AC and will be receiving the same as you next for 4 cycles, and I was told the exact same thing that it would be easier! Hopefully the first will be the worst for you and the others won’t be so bad. I’ve saw a lot of people mention Claritin for bone pains which could help? 

Hi there

I had 4 rounds of FEC and I sailed through these with minimal effects but not no side effects 

I then went on to Docetaxol and I too had every side effect going.  I think it varies but I feel that if you suffer bad or good or your first regime it reverses .  You must tell your loved ones they would appreciate knowing so they can help you.  Nothing is guaranteed on chemo.  Every person is different.  You shouldn’t feel you need to put on a brave front .  You are fighting because you have to not because you are a fighter.  Please share your feelings xxxxxxxx. 

Oh poor you, you have to tell your family. I have had different side effects and they include diarrhoea and blocked nose, sleep issues, and feeling very emotional. Everyone is different and I think every week I have have chemo I feel different. Be honest and take it day by day x 

Sorry to hear you are feeling so rubbish. I don’t know about the different types of breast cancer treatment, so I’m not sure what the first treatment you mentioned is, but I have triple positive breast cancer and am on my fifth cycle of docetaxl, carboplatin, trastuzamab and pertuzamab, which I think is possibly the same thing you are having now? My oncologist said it is the harshest treatment she can give for breast cancer and i’ve certainly found it very tough.

I do experience all of the side effects you’ve described and more. I found that the first treatment was extremely difficult and I was in agonising pain, but then my doctor reduced the dose of the 2 chemo drugs to 80% and I found that easier to cope with. Some of my tips are to drink as much water as possible - this has really helped with my digestive issues. I have baby wipes instead of toilet roll because I’ve also developed anal fissures and piles with the chemo. Everything tastes bad but potatoes taste quite nice and almost soothing, so I regularly eat those baked or mashed. I also like to eat plain chicken, so we make sure we always have some ready cooked chicken drumsticks in the fridge and then, even if I feel really ill, I can just eat them cold. And I eat soup quite a lot, but make sure there’s nothing like chilli in there because that gave me awful diarrhoea. Try to keep your diet as healthy as possible because I’ve found that the supplements I was given caused me a lot more digestive issues. I have bought a sanex very dry skin shower gel which has helped stop my skin get to the stage where it is cracking, and then an aveeno moisturiser for extremely dry skin and it’s a lot better. I only wear quite loose fitting, comfortable trainers because of the toenail pain and they have stopped looking so inflamed without shoes pressing on them. And i keep my fingernails short so that the feeling of them being pulled off isn’t so severe. If anything needs to be pulled open or have nails used, I always ask somebody else to do it if possible. I havent found a solution for the eyes or nose, but they do stop being so sore as the symptoms ease between doses. I was prescribed an oromucosal spray which I use in my mouth and at the back of my throat and numbs it a bit. I also have some oralieve gel which soothes my mouth and is like false saliva. I find that i crave juicy fruit because my mouth is so dry and i really want to be able to taste something, but most fruits are too sharp tasting. Pears are really good - they’re soft and juicy and the flavour is not too harsh. I make sure to buy them at least a week before I’m going to want them because they take so long to ripen. Nectarines and peaches are good too. I found the bone pain awful at first and was told that stronger painkillers can be prescribed if necessary, including oramorph, so that’s something you could ask your doctor about. I found the bone pain was much reduced after the second dose and I now only take paracetamol. I feel the bone pain quite a lot in my ribs and neck which are tender to touch. I have a shaped hot water bottle which can sit along the shoulders and I wear it at the front, on my chest which is soothing. Oh, and it has caused vaginal dryness and pain too, which my doctor couldn’t prescribe anything for. I found a vagisil moisturising gel which is meant to replicate normal lubrication and has helped ease the pain. Most products seemed to be lubricants meant for use during sex but this one is meant for everyday use. I’ve been hospitalised with sepsis once and have had quite a few more minor infections, so had many rounds of antibiotics. I have called my chemo red card number loads. Basically, any new symptom or anything worrying me, I give them a call and they have often managed to prescribe something or checked me out and given me antibiotics. Make sure you do that because that’s what it’s for.

Apologies if i’ve got the wrong end of the stick and none of this is useful but these are the things which have helped me cope. I also felt that I wouldn’t be able to get through it after the first one, but I’ve now had 5. You just need to grit your teeth and get through this tough bit. Good luck.