Immune System concerns

Hi everyone, hope you are all OK.

I just wanted to post something that is on my mind, it helps to put things down on here. Now Mum has had her first chemo, although she suffered extremely badly and is still recovering, it seems I just move on to the next worry. I thought I would feel as though it’s OK during the 3 weeks, but I had to get her a themometer today as suggested by the consultant and now I’m panicking about that. I’m worried that i could pass something on to her or that she could get ill during the chemotherapy. The temperature today was 36.9 so that’s OK isn’t it? I’m sure they said it’s 37.5 that is too high. I just feel like I’m going to be checking and worrying every day. I wish I could wrap her up in cotton wool and always take care of her.

Was anyone given any advice about avoiding infections etc? I know obvious things like going on a packed bus or train isn’t good but is she OK to go out? She only had the chemo on Tuesday, so probably not yet.

I would love to take her away for a break for two nights. I had checked prices for a spa and then found out she couldn’t have spa treatments which was a real blow. I just want to pamper her and make her feel special. Does anyone know if it is OK to go away during chemo, just to the coast or something in her second or third week?

Sorry it’s so long, I just feel like I am so scared about everything and I don’t know what to do for the best.

Thanks, Michelle x

Dear Michelle

You and your Mum may find our booklet about chemotherapy helpful to read for further advice and information, you can read it via the following link:

breastcancercare.org.uk/docs/chemotherapy_finalbookletnov04_0.pdf

Also, please do feel free to contact our freephone helpline on 0808 800 6000 to speak to one of our team of specialist nurses if you or your Mum have further queries or concerns about any aspect of breast cancer including treatments.

Kind regards
Sam
Moderator
Breast Cancer Care

Hi Michelle

God everything is such a worry - you are right, you move on to the next thing and then the next thing after that…
You are right to be concerned about infection, it is no joke and it can land up with a hospital stay. Normally they say days 10-14 are the ones to avoid crowded indoor areas and snotty nosed children (i have 2 of those so there is not alot I can do about that - LOL!). I have heard other people say days 7-10 though, so best double check as it might depend on the type of chemo drugs.
Yes-keep an eye on the temp, but it’s up to you whether you do that all the time, or just during that ‘infection watch’ period - I personally don’t take mine all the time, as I feel I know when i feel run down - but I do take it sometimes during that dodgy week.
Get your mum to keep the old fruit and veg going in, multi vitamins too maybe? I’ve been drinking beetroot juice and smoothies to try and get some xtra fruit and veg.

You can take her away somewhere nice - that would be lovely, best if you can time it so it is just after 14 days and then she will be coming back to her best prior to her next dose. You prob have to stay in this country though (that’s what I was told).

Good luck, you are doing a grand job looking after her - I bet she is so thankful to have such a lovely daughter.
Take care of yourself too and don’t you go catching any colds either!!!
Ali
x

Hi Michelle…
your mom is lucky to have you taking care of her. And, it must be pretty hard on you…

36.7 sounds good. Normally 38 is accounted as a temperature… maybe 37.5 for your mom, if she is particularly fragile.
Infections… well they go around. You may want to ask your GP about a flu shot. Anyway, the BEST way to stay healthy is pretty dumb: washing your hands. I have an 11 years old (my daughter), and I’ve asked her to be religious to wash her hands - both in school to prevent her from getting stuff (stuff travels from others’ hands to ours, then from our hands it enters our body by rubbing our nose or our eyes…), and as soon as she gets home to avoid bringing stuff in the home.

You can even get special soaps… but normal good soap, if used properly (30 seconds washing hands, scrubbing under the nails) is quite efficient.

You may want to read this article, I’ve found it informative - but run by your GP any information anyway… cancerbackup.org.uk/Resourcessupport/Symptomssideeffects/Othersymptomssideeffects/Avoidinginfection

Hi Michelle,

I was really worried after my first chemo, taking my temperature every day during the second week (days 7 - 14) - at my hospital they say to contact them if it reached 37.5. Since then I have relaxed about it as I have never had any problems, but as Lilith says, washing your hands is really important so I am very careful about that. I’ve become a bit of a hermit - I wouldn’t go to the pub (have been told to avoid busy indoor places) and it is the perfect excuse to get the OH to do Sainsbury’s. My chemo day is Friday, and our shopping day is also Friday, so I come back from the hospital and do the Sainsbury’s run as I feel fine at ths point, but the next two Fridays are days 7 & 14 so I send the OH - wonderful! I don’t even care when he comes back with an odd selection, as long as I don’t have to do it.

As for holidays - we have managed two long weekends away during the school holidays. Each one has been two weeks on from chemo, and I have felt fine. We’ve stayed in the UK and it has been really good to get a break. I’ve taken my hospital details with me just in case but never needed them.

I take plenty of exercise, and have upped my intake of fruit and vegetables, which I am sure helps. My family have had various colds over the last five months since I started chemo but I haven’t caught any of them,

Try not to worry too much, I’m sure your mum will be OK.

Best wishes
RR

Hi there,
lots of good advice from the other ladies but thought I’de just add a few suggestions too. Try and encourage your Mum to have a healthy diet but make sure all friuit and veg are washed thoroughly, keep away from unpasturised products - like delicous runny cheeses, watch out for products with raw egg in them and be careful about eating out (don’t say don’t do it but make sure your Mum picks food off the menu which is freshly cooked not reheated) . try and keep the kitchen reasonably clean - wash and scald chopping boards and wash all tea towls on a hot wash frequently. Watch out for take aways - again makes sure the food is freshly cooked not reheated.
A little break would probably do you both the world of good - take your own pillows and the thermomiter and have a great time.
cheers
caroline

Michelle,
Thought I would give you my point of view on this, Listen to your Mum let her do anything she wants to do
if going away for a few day’s sounds good to her go, you can just help by making it as safe as possible.
Try to stop worrying so much about her( I know it’s hard I don’t know her age and health problems) . The person that’s caring can end up ill because they are doing all the worrying. I have had twelve years of major problems with husband many ops. Heart and Cancer, It’s only a few years since I realised I was worrying and then he would pull through, Now I take everything as it comes. When I was
diagnosed with B.C. I thought what now but I have just got on with it doing all the things as normal, babysitting my four granddaughters, having wee holiday’s, shopping. I have had op, chemo nearly finished then on to Rads, so I am getting through it. You’r Mum will be so pleased to have you best wishes to you both. Jeanxxx

Hi Michelle,

just to add my ten pence worth to the sound advice you’ve already received! I started chemo in May and was told that days 7-10 were when my immune system would be at its lowest so this was when it was best to avoid crowded places, people with colds etc.

I purchased a digital thermometer when I started treatment and was told to call the chemo unit if my temp got over 37.5. I was told that whenever I take my temp I should do it under the tongue as this is more accurate. Anyhoo, I know some people check their temps every day but I really didn’t want to become obssessed by this. So, personally I have only ever checked mine if I have felt poorly, and throughout my chemo it has never got above 36.9. I spoke to the staff on my chemo unit about it a while ago and they said it was perfectly fine for me to not be checking it every day and only if I feel ill.

I go out pretty much most days when I’m on my chemo break, but I do try to steer clear of crowded public places when I’m on days 7-10. Otherwise anything goes!! I have remained v.well throughout chemo, not a sniff of an infection or low blood count (so far, still got 1 cycle left though so fingers crossed!). Taking your mum away sounds like a lovely idea and I’m sure she’ll appreciate it. We have been away a couple of times during my treatment, and I just make sure I take my hosp contact Nos, thermometer, travel bands and anti-sickness meds just in case. Your mum will prob feel at her best toward the end of the 3 week break so maybe you could arrange it for then.

Take care and let us know what you decide,

Kelly
-x-

Hi Michelle

THought would add my little bit too. Don’t worry about you passing germs on, cos I have two little children and asked about when they get colds, and apparently mums and their children are pretty immune to each other, so she should be ok with you.

I was told days 7-14 might be the worse ones for infection, but to be honest, I have done nothing differently than before, except told my friends that if any of them have really bad cough/cold or infection of sorts, then to tell me, as prob. wouldn’t see them. But rest of time done normal things, as my 3 yr olds social life is quite busy I have to say.

The advice above from the others is good, and you and your mum need to do what you both think is best for her. But I don’t think you should stop living your life worrying about going out, as you have to carry on as normal as you can.

Anyway you take care and your mum too.
Love
Dawn
xx

Hi Michelle

When you say your Mum suffered after her first chemo, was it with sickness? If so , ask the oncologist to tweek it a bit, when they get it right, it generally works really well.

I am on a cocktail of domperidone, ondansetron, and now I’m further on and a little more nauseous, a couple of days worth of dexamethasone. This seems to do the trick for me but everyone is different.

All the best, she is lucky to have you

Cecelia. xx

Hi Michelle Your mum is such a lucky lady to have you You will get lots of good advice on here as the ladies on here are excellent at helping out when you need it. I have just finished all my treatment 7 weeks ago I had mastectomy and 8 sessions of chemo I was very lucky all through my chemo as I did feel well no sickness at all and no colds or flu. I still led a very active life going to the pub and going out for chinese meals. I have quite a lot of friends here and they would phone up once or twice a week and we would do lunchI actually never thought about having any problems at the time (too busy feeding my face) The only time I took my temperature was when I was feeling a little hot luckly it was always alright I was told anything over 38 was the danger period mine was alwayd 35 I must admit I was one lucky lady as I never had any problems. I do understand your concerns cause its your mum I would be exactly the same. I hope you get through this OK I did eat a healthy diet nothing special but plenty of fresh vegetables I did put a stone on in weight but I wasent to bothered as I felt well I am now at Scottish slimmers to get that stone off. Please also look after yourself also as we dont want you falling ill. I do know when you are looking after someone you tend to forget yourself. Anyway I do hope your mum is fine. It wont be long before you are telling us on here shes finished all her treatment believe me that day will come look at me now I feel fantastic and I am starting a new job in 2 weeksso there is light at the end of the tunnel believe me. I am living proof. You Take Care and give my Love and best wishes to Mum Linda XXXXXX

Thanks to everyone for your messages and well wishes. Yes it was sickness and nausea that she suffered badly with. She only just told me yesterday that through the night she stayed in hospital she had numerous doctors come to see her because she was so bad and following an injection that was meant to help she started shaking uncontrollably. Really scared me to hear all this, but we have got an appointment with her consultant next week to explain everything and see if he can change the drugs. She has a list of anti-sickness drugs but clearly they weren’t the right one’s for her. She is my little Mum though so I expect her body was in shock at the chemo going in!

Thankfully she is feeling much better now. I cooked her a meal last night and wore a painting mask! I thought I could feel a little sore throat so I wanted to be careful! OTT I know, but hey it was a laugh and I would rather be safe than sorry.

Linda - thanks for your words of encouragement. I must say, it seems like the end of chemo is so far away. I’m dreading the next one and can’t really see past that at the moment but I’m pleased to hear you are feeling well and at the end of your treatment. Good luck with your new job and hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Michelle,

when I was in hosp following my mastectomy I was given an IV anti sickness drug as I felt queasey following the anaesthetic. Anwyay, this drug gave me all manner of probs and I felt a million time worse than I had before initially. I too was shaking uncontrollably and could hardly breathe. As you can imagine I started having a real panic attack!

Not sure if its the same IV drug that caused your mum probs but it was called ‘Metoclopramide’. This is also one of the anti-sickness meds they can send you home with after each chemo. I made the staff on the unit where I go of my probs with this drug and they have never given it to me since as there are a million others I can have. Just thought I’d let you know,

Take care,

Kelly
-x-