Docetaxel ...bright red! Nails and ice mitts.

Hi, this is my very first post on here.I apologise if it is in the wrong place or already answered.
I have had four chemo sessions so far
1 x FEC 75
2 x FEC 100

Yesterday I had the fists of three docetaxel
I have a very flushed appearance this morning…is this anything to worry about? ( did not happen on fec)
Any advice on docetaxel appreciated.
On an Australian site I read about people advised to paint their nails with a dark colour and wearing ice gloves and ice mitts. I have not heard any mention of these here…have you?
Thank you to anyone who can help me out here.

Hi Jay2014…I had FEC-T Mar to Jul 2012 and hope some of this may help, although I would stress that SEs are unique to everyone…this short novel is just my personal experience!!!

The 1st TAX hit me quite hard, but my Onc said that was because I still had FEC, particularly the ‘E’ bit in my system, that the body needs time to adjust to the change of chemo regime and that all my SEs were ‘common’!!! I coped with FEC really well.

The flushed face is down to combination of TAX and steroids and will ease, although it may take a few days. Bit old-fashioned and definitely not attractive, but I slapped a bit of calamine lotion on and took an anti-histamine which helped loads,

Side effects, personal to me, included major bone aches and pains on days 5 - 7, however this may have been exacerbated by the GCSF white blood cell boosting injections. I had oral thrush and mouth ulcers on days 5 - 10, mild cystitis days 7 - 10, mild diarrhoea days 9 - 11, small nose bleeds from day 8 - 15, red patches between my fingers on and off (not painful), sore nails on and off, feet painful to walk on days 5 - 10, and virtually no taste (or everything tasted vile!) from day 3 - 14. All unpleasant, but manageable with paracetamol, ibuprofen, cranberry juice, barley water, immodium, nystan (prescribed) for thrush, gelclair for ulcers and doublebase cream for hands and feet! Soaking hands and feet in cold water helped too. My nails slightly discoloured, so I cut them very short and wore clear basecoat as the tips became tender and made using my hands uncomfortable. They also had little black dots on them. Lost a few bits of fingernails up to 6 weeks post chemo; all long and strong again 4 months later. You san see that I kept a diary…

Onc said to pre-empt SEs for TAX 2…which in her experience was likely to be ‘easier’…don’t think she’s ever had chemo lol…you could start taking painkillers now in case you get the aches and pains, which can be debilitating (hit by a truck is one way I could describe them). Up to you obviously.

HOWEVER…TAX 2 was MUCH better . Started taking painkillers on day 3, but didn’t really need them much at all, and stopped on day 6 as aches and pains very minor.

The biggest issue was fatigue but guess that’s the same for everyone…it’s just that I’m a fit, healthy, busy person who hadn’t had a day off sick for 30 years, so becoming SLOW was a shock to the system!!! However I completed the Race for Life in a very respectable 60 mins a year after chemo finished…

As I said, this is very personal to me, and I’m sure others will have different experiences, but hopefully forewarned is forearmed?

There is a real split of opinion, in chemo units and on this forum, on the issue of whether to wear dark nail varnish or not! For every ‘I used dark nail varnish’ there will be a ‘I didn’t use dark nail varnish’ and every outcome is likely to be different despite wearing dark nail varnish or not! As TAX affects everyone differently no-one can safely say how it will be for you. To be honest I would just go with what feels right for you, as there doesn’t appear to be any decent research available. Taking extra care of your hands and nails is the best idea. Dark nail varnish may mask underlying infection and using nail varnish remover may not be helpful to fragile nails.

My cousin, a Consultant Dermatologist, offers this advice “You may notice nail discolouration (particularly on taxanes) as the nail root cells are killed by the chemotherapy. These dead cells push out as new cells are produced, leaving the discolouration. The effect of chemotherapy affects keratin production, the protein that gives nails their strength and rigidity, which can cause brittle nails. sometimes the nail may separate from the nail bed. There is growing evidence that wearing ‘ice gloves’ or immersing finger tips in iced water during infusion may help to limit damage, as the chemotherapy is the most ‘toxic’ to cells during administration.” Not sure if ice gloves are available in the UK; however you could ask to immerse your fingers in iced water at the start of treatment? Worth asking.

All the very best for the rest of your treatment…hope some of this helps, and be kind to yourself :slight_smile: xx

Hi, just to say my chemo nurse said they would use the ice hand mits and toe mits when I start my docetaxel in 4 weeks. . It’s supposed to help prevent nail loss . Maybe you could ask at your next review or session. I will definitely be making sure I get to use them . Apparently after each docetaxel session your nail bed stops growing and this may lead to ridged nails , and even nail loss. The dark nail Polish is to stop the sun light from damaging your nails further and also covers up the discolouration you may get. I have only read / been told all this so please don’t take it as gospel. Also I get very flushed after my fec so I think this may just be another side effect ,I wouldn’t panic but if you are really worried I would phone the chemo unit. I’m sure they will put your mind at rest.
Good luck with everything. X morag

Strange how different worries surface…day 4 after docetaxel.

Nails seem less of a worry. Redness for first couple of days, aching back and neck, uncomfortable mouth and lack of taste / interest in food seem to have taken over…

Hi ladies

I hope you dont mind me joining is as I come from the ‘dark’ side in other words I have secondaries!  

I had FEC chemo 6 years ago when my secondaries were first diagnosed and I’ve now just started Docetaxel, Herceptin and Perjeta.  I found your post really helpful Maryland as it mimics what I have found over the past week or so having had the first Tax last week.  I know we don’t all get all the side effects but its been useful to note when and what might happen.  So far lots of aches and pains as well as mouth ulcers - just as you’ve said plus the lack of taste.  As to nails mine never look good anyway so I’m reluctant to draw attention to them by suddenly wearing nail polish especially dark ones.  The nurses on my chemo ward did mention about having to use nail polish remover which could dry them out even further so I am keeping them moisturised and strengthened and hope they hold on.  Waiting for the hair to drop in a week or so (or that’s when I expect it to happen) but I dealt with it before and am already stocked up with a wig and head covers - much better choice than 6 years ago btw!

Good luck everyone with your treatment and hope it is kind to you but kicks the little uggers into touch.

Nicky x

ps although I logged on to trawl through the Top Tips for chemo thread I came across this one so would like to ask - what’s best for helping with the mouth ulcers other than gelclair?  I didn’t get them at all last time on FEC, and generally don’t get them, so any mouthwashes, other lotions and potions would be helpful to know about, especailly if you can get them prescribd from the hospital/GP.  Otherwise I have a lot of reading to do :smileywink:

Jay, just come across your post. I finished chemo in July (3 Sessions FEC, 3 TAX). I religiously painted my nails purple and my nails were very good then suddenly started going brown and In the last couple of weeks I have lost three and expect to lose more. Very disappointing. I did suffer quite badly, however, from numbness in my fingers especially (I think they call it peripheral neuropathy) so it is probably not surprising. I did look into ice mitts but my hospital doesn’t use them and they were very expensive to buy so I didn’t pursue it. There also wasn’t a freezer on the ward so immersing my fingers and toes in ice cold water didn’t seem to be feasible. The oncologist also wasn’t keen on that idea because, he said, you can get cancer cells anywhere. I do wonder now, however, whether I should have been more persistent because I am finding losing my nails quite difficult, oddly enough worse than losing my hair.