How soon does Immune system recover?


Briefly DX Aug08, chemo, surgery, rads, 1 year Herceptin finished Dec09 Letrozole for 5 years.

Does anyone know when our immune systems return to normal if ever.
One GP and my practice nurse say never completely. My other GP says very quickly and refused me a flu jab last winter. My onc says probably back to normal now.I just know that if I catch anything i.e. a cough or cold it takes weeks and weeks to go away. OH helpfully says it’s probably nothing to do with chemo more likely my age(63)

I currently have an infection in a wound left from an infected seroma which had to be opened up and cleaned out in Dec 09 and has still not completely healed.I am on my 6th lot of anitbiotics because the infection keeps reocurring and although this is not a sinister situation I am absolutely fed up and frustrated to still be having dressings done 3 times a week.

Has anyone got any advice how I can encourage my body to get on with healing itself.


I asked my oncologist about this after I finished chemo (I was in hospital isolation with no immunity for a week after my last dose of Taxotere). My oncologist told me things get back to normal quite quickly, after about 6 weeks.

Hi Andie,
Like you l am 63years young, although not feeling older since being diagnosed in Feb this year.
My mum who is 90 swears by Manuka honey! it is called the healing honey, l have seen a few posts on here about it, so if you haven’t given it a try what have you to lose! They do it in different strengths, 16 being the highest, and the dearest! supermarkets do the 10 strength, but health food shops do the higher strength
Good Luck,
Has the infection never cleared up since 08? obviously they have tested it to make sure they are giving you the right antibiotics.
You would think your body would become immuned to the antibiotics!
Tell OH you need pampering, works a treat!!
Sandra xxx

Hi Andie,
I was diagnosed at the same time as you and went through so much that my body was traumatised and more so because I was very fit before I had bc. I’m getting frustrated now because my fitness levels seem to have levelled and I hurt when I do too much. I spoke with the doc on Monday because of my concerns and she said it often takes 2-3 year for the immune system plus all other systems in the body to recover particularly if you’ve had several chemos, op and rads. The ligaments, muscles, heart etc are all affected by chemo so she says to be patient and the body will recover in its own time. It’s important to go at your own pace - everyone’s different - and to listen to your body. Do a little more exercise each time and see how your body responds. If you exercise, you’re less likely to be open to infections (colds etc) because you’re building your immune system. She also told me that it is possible to recover your original level of fitness if you’re patient and people have been known to run marathons three years after bc. I know someone myself so I know that’s true. The best of luck! Hope this is helpful. Susie

Hi Andie
I know you’ve been exascerbated by this awful seroma as we’ve been chatting on the IBC thread.

I don’t know how long our bodies take to become immune to things, my Oncologist told me last December that by then, all the chemo effects should have left my body (like you dx June 08, finished tax in Oct o8 then had mx, rads and one year of Herceptin). Maybe the Herceptin affects our immune systems?

I don’t know, I’ve had one thing after another since having treatment including hypothyroidism, it does make you wonder if our bodies just can’t cope for a while. I’m seeing my Oncologist tomorrow, I’ll ask him and see what he says.

Take care, I do hope the seroma problem starts to clear up, it’s really gone on long enough now hasn’t it for you.

P xx

Hi everyone,
I was DX in 2007 finished treatment Feb 2008, and still dont think my immune system has recovered properly, since finishing treatments, i seem to pick up anything and everything ,i get one cold or flu after another , also been DX with Thyriod nodules and now 3 monthly blood tests are showing that i will have hyperthyriodism at some stage.I also suffer with many more migraines than before DX , i used to have them about 1-2 times a year and now i get them every few weeks, also seem to get more cold sores and sometimes boils ,

peacock, there seemes to be a lot of people that have had BC and Thyriod problems i remember a few threads in the past discussing this , makes you wonder if there is a connection doesnt it?

I guess that after all the battering that our bodies go through with these harsh treatments it will take a while to fully recover properly .

Andie ,I realy hope that the seroma clears up soon, it sounds like you have had an awfull times of it,
All the best

Hi Andie, know how you feel, my immunity seems to be knocked for six and was picking up every bug going after finishing rads. I remember my onc saying that the immune system takes a year roughly after chemo, but they all seem to be saying different things so I can only conclude they either don’t know - and/or it just varies wildly between individuals.

They did refer me to a complementary cancer centre (London Homeopathic Hospital) who prescribed Iscador to help my immune system, this seemed to work wonders as I was feeling great within weeks! However I got a little over-confident and tried to get back to normal too quickly by returning to work fulltime, and generally taking on too much, as is my habit - and promptly ended up back in bed with an awful glandular infection that’s been going on for ages.

But I reckon the Iscador is definately worth doing, it’s free (NHS prescription), but just make sure you get lots of rest as well!

Also oriental mushrooms (shitake, oyster) are reputed to be very immune boosting - maybe cook up with some garlic!

Best wishes

Hi Girls

Thank you all for your replies.

The wound has been swabbed a couple of times recently and the infection is the same one recurring and I am on the recommended AB. I did ask if it was the same as the original infection that I assumed was checked at the seroma surgery, but was told that it was impossible to tell because things were in such a mess that they did not get much of a sample.

I did use mankuna honey while on chemo and will get some tomorrow to give it a try again. Also my fitness levels are not too bad but will try and get going on the WiFit again if it might help



My immune system, well my bloods, picked up whilst I was on Chemo. I put it down to vitamin packed homemade super juices using natural immune boosting ingredients - ‘The ultimate health boost’ and ‘swamp juice’ - both tasting much nicer than they looked or sounded. Recipes from Jason Vale. Swear they made all the difference. My bloods steadily declined and I was starting to suffer coughs and colds I couldn’t shift and when I started juicing my illnesses cleared and my bloods increased steadily until my counts were higher before my last chemo than they were before my first. Its the best recommendation I can make.

On the days I had energy I did loads of home made soups for the freezer, also home made meals that I could freeze. My OH grows all his own veg and salad and I really do think this made a difference. Sometimes all I could eat was some soup and toast, so it was nice to have a nutritious home made variety.

Hi Girls

Thanks for all the suggestions. I will certainly give most of them a go. I have nothing to lose and hopefully plenty to gain.

Take care