Anyone had shingles?

I hope you ladies will not mind if I ask a question on behalf of my wife.

She is 64 and had a mastectomy 5 years ago to deal with DCIS. Three years ago we discovered that she had tumours in her lungs, liver, spine, chest and hips. After radiotherapy she went on to Herceptin and Zometa and this seemed to be doing OK until three months ago when, after suffering from headaches and dizziness, she was told that she had multiple tumours in her brain.

She then had WBRT and was in the process of getting over this when, not being a girl who does things by half, she decided to contract shingles in the eye about 6 weeks ago. After about three weeks of messing about with different painkillers she was put on Gabapentin and this has controlled the pain to the extent that it is now almost tolerable although distinctly uncomfortable.

The good news is that a scan a couple of weeks ago showed that there were no new tumours in the brain, that some of the small ones had disappeared and the big ones had shrunk considerably. In addition, all the tumours in the body continue to be kept in check by the Herceptin. The doctors tell us that the blood brain barrier has been damaged as result of the radiation with the result that the Herceptin can get through to the brain. I am not wholly persuaded by this argument but am happy to wait and see the next scan and then quiz the doctors on Xeloda and the like.

There is not much we can do about the tumours other than wait and see but I was wondering if there was any experience of shingles in this group. My understanding is that it attacks when the immune system is low and that it can take a long time for the neuralgia to go away. Does anyone have any experience of this or suggestions for building the immune system up again?

Sorry to hear things have been so tough, I do hope your wife is feeling more comfortable now.
No real answer for you re the shingles I’m afraid. I did have it on my trunk and legs/thighs and I think you are right in that low immunity leaves you vulnerable, I was put on antibiotics as far as I can remember and it did take several weeks befors the pain and then discomfort wore off.
Hope someone with more knowledge will be along soon

Sorry that your wife is having such a hard time. I hope things improve for her soon.

I was hospitalised a few weeks ago, with very low immunity, a bacterial infection and also suspected shingles. If I remember rightly I was given aciclovir (an anti-viral drug which is one of the components of Zovirax) for the shingles, via a drip. It was discontinued after 3 days, when they decided that I didn’t have shingles, but something else.

I don’t know if aciclovir would be suitable in your wife’s case, but it might be worth asking.


sorry to hear your wife having a time of it. I had shingles after I’d finished having chemo. As KittieKat said I took aciclovir 5 times a day and cream of the same name for a week. I’m alreasy on pregamblin for nerve pain so I didn’t even know I got it until I felt it on the bottom of my spine and was shock when I was diagnosed with it. GP said it was caught early which was lucky for me.

It was very tiring but worked for me and I do hope she has the same outcome. As for building up the immune system I just eat as healthy as I can. The extra thing I have is manuka 15+ honey on toast once a day.

Your wife results are excellant - long may it continue.


I have every sympathy with your wife! I am suffering with shingles at the moment which also started in my right eye. The right side of my face swelled, then the glands in the neck and I get terrible pain in the back of my head (as well as stabbing pains and soreness in the eye).

I was treated by my GP for cellulitis which apparently affects those with lowered immunity, and can be quite serious. However the antibiotics didn’t work and after two hospital trips I have been told it is shingles.

I finished my chemo three and a half years ago but still seem to have a lowered immunity - I now catch everything going which I didn’t before.

I really hope your wife feels better soon - it’s hard enough with just one thing to deal with without both.


Thanks for your thoughts. She has improved slightly over the last week so I hope that this continues. The problem is working out if the headaches and dizziness are due to the shingles or the tumours. She says the current pains are different from those she had just before he brain tumours were discovered so this looks promising.