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Preventing infection while on chemo


Re: Preventing infection while on chemo

Hi Janey.....all the best for your treatment, and hope that it is kind to you. The information I received from my hospital was not the greatest, and my uncle who was receiving treatment at the Royal Marsden at the same time, sent me a link to their booklet. It is very generic (and long) but packed with every question you ever wanted to ask (and loads you hadn't even thought about!) http://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/cancer-information/patient-information/booklets/chemotherapy.pdf

The information about 'infection' starts on page 23. Hope it helps you.

For another perspective, I worked (in a school) all through chemo and radiotherapy with only 25 days off in total.....days that my Onc forbade me to work! Was hospitalised once for a few days with an unknown infection (probably urinary) and was told that we are more at risk from 'ourselves' i.e. food, cuts, grazes etc. than from others.

Really hopes this helps to reassure you - sounds like you have a busy life. Best 'advice' I can give is to keep a diary so that you know what to expect each cycle, and accept ALL offers of genuine help. Chemo side effects tend to be cumulative so towards the end you will inevitably feel more tired.

Take care....M x

Re: Preventing infection while on chemo

Hi Janey,


Good idea to keep a bag packed but Im sure you wont need it...


The chemo has been a right old slog. It knocks me over for 2 weeks and Ive had the full range of side effects and also lots of drugs to tackle them. Sickness was a real problem with the first cyle but once my team found the antisickness meds that work for me Ive not had a problem with it since and am sure to keep up with the tablets every cylcle. I would advise you to take all the meds advised by your team even if you dont feel that you need them.


Ive been back and forth to hospital loads of times and been very well looked after. My team are lovely and carnt do enough to help me to cope. Im sure yours will be just the same so dont worry.


Yeah its tough and and there have been dark times but its a necessary evil Janey. Im lucky to have lots of support and people that I can lean on and I hope thats the case for you too as it really helps.


The forum has also been a god send for me at times. The women on here are a massive support. 


In my area there is a lot of support in terms of alternative therapy's for cancer patients. This has given me something to look forward to on my good days. So if youve got this sort of thing..... get booking!!


Oh and I am keeping a diary of how Im feeling day to day and this has been useful to look back on especially when Ive felt grim as helped me to look forward to feeling better.


Hope all this makes sense and helps.......feeling like Im rambling on and on and Im no expert....ha ha.......


Love Caroline x


Re: Preventing infection while on chemo

Hi Janey, I'm stage 2 (spread to the nodes) grade 3 with high ER&PR (8/8) levels hence the EC followed by 12 weekly Taxol and rads. I'm still waiting for the 2nd HER2 test results as the first were had mea s borderline.
I'm flying around Easter and my onc is very comfortable with that. I was also told that swimming is ok, obviously up to me which pool I'm comfortable with.
Re kids - most of the stuff that cause kids' streaming noses are viral anyway so there's nothing docs can do about those. So we just have to ensure tissues are used and thrown away, lots of hand washing, etc.
There's a link on this site for the chemo tips including having a chemo bag for your sessions and another overnight bag ready for hospital admissions. It's bit like having a bag ready to labour 🙂 xx

Re: Preventing infection while on chemo

Hi TomCat, thank you for putting things a bit more in perspective for me. I can't believe you have been on 4 flights while on chemo. That gives me hope that I can maybe lead some kind of nomal life while having treatment. I have four kids and one of them always seems to have some bug or other at the moment. I think I expected to pick up every infection going which does not seem to be the case.


Thanks again for your advice and I wish you well with the rest of your treatment.  Janey xxx

Re: Preventing infection while on chemo

Hi Waiting, thank you for your advice, it has made me feel a bit better about it.  I think I just want to avoid going into hospital as I hate them so much.  I guess I better get used to it though as I will be spending most of my time at hospitals from now on.  


I am having chemo before surgery and in a strange way looking forward to it starting as at least I will be doing something about the cancer instead of just this terrible waiting around knowing it is there.  I am preparing myself for the side effects and will just take all the meds they give me to help with them. I think I will pack a 'just in case' bag ready in case I need to go into hospital but hopefully if I'm sensible I won't need it.


How have you found the EC chemo, that is what I will be having. I hope it's not been too bad for you, at least you are over half way through now and the end is in sight. Janey xxx

Re: Preventing infection while on chemo

Hi Herewego, thanks for replying. I think it's just the fear of the unknown with the chemo. I will just have to be sensible and try not to obsess over it.  I see you are having the EC chemo which is what I am going to have. Do you know why they are using EC and not FEC which is what most people seem to getting, I have only seen a few people mention the EC. I'm glad it has not been too bad for you so far and hope you continue to feel ok. Janey xx

Re: Preventing infection while on chemo

You can't worry about everything. You just have to be a little bit sensible. To put it into context, since I started Chemo (AC 4 times two weekly and now I am on 12 weeks of Taxol) I have been on 4 flights and many many public areas! I have a snotty child at home too! 


The way I look at it if you are usually going to get an infection you need to be a bit more careful but to be fair, you can fight infection, its just harder. You also have a great team on hand to make sure nothing gets out of hand. When you start you will have helpline numbers and signs to watch for. you won't be left alone and you mustn't let it worry you. You are going to be ok. 


I got a cough that took me 4 weeks to ight (with antibiotics) rather than a usual 5 days or so. It didn't make me iller than normal. The doctors and nurses were on me like fleas to make sure I was ok.


You will be having regular blood tests that show how your immunity is and you will be as protected and looked after as possible. actually your health has probably never been as closely monitored 🙂


GOod luck and try not to worry. I actually think once you start it is easier as you have a better idea how things will go. The side effects can be hard BUT a lot of the time they are a few days here and a few hours there rather than constant and you learn quiclkly to deal with them. You won't get all of them and you will be able to get through. GOOD LUCK.

Re: Preventing infection while on chemo

Hi Janey,


Sorry to hear you have had to join us but your in the right place for support, kindness and reassurance.


I hope you are starting to come to terms with your diagnosis but I know it's very overwhelming and terrifying and takes time. I was diagnosed just 5 days before mastectomy them chemotherapy 8 weeks later and Im still coming to terms with it. Ive just had the 4th out of 6 Ec treatments.


Everyone reacts differently to chemotherapy and some cope better then others but it's wise to be prepared for an uphill slog. It would seem that infection is quite common amongst  us chemo patients but be assured that you will be well looked after by your medical team and any sign of infection and you will be put on hv or oral antibiotics very quickly. I was given emergency numbers for if worried at any time........day or night.


Regarding avoiding infection. I would just say be sensible with hand hygiene, food prep etc and keep away from people who are ill including those with coughs and colds. Hard to do if youve got children I know. Weve had 2 episodes of the dreaded man flu but I managed to avoid it.........

Ive had one infection so far and hv antibiotics sorted me out very quickly.


Try not to worry and please join the February feed on here as really helps to talk to others in same boat

(im from December bit in the chemotherapy strand)


Good Luck xxx



Re: Preventing infection while on chemo

Hi Janey, I had lumpectomy and full nodes removal before I started EC chemo last week. I've fared better than expected and now at 12 days into the 1st cycle I'm back to normal.
The anti sickness meds kept everything apart from tiredness under control. I got two little ones at nursery so they catch anything and everything that's going around (both have had streaming noses all through) and I have managed somehow to avoid any infections so far.
I think you just need to be sensible and at the same time not let this thing control your life. You'll be told to keep an eye on your temperature and if it gets to 38c you'll need to contact the hospital as you'll need iv antibiotics. I think there's been a couple of ladies that have ended with this but most have managed to get through without any infections xx

Preventing infection while on chemo

Hi everyone, I was diagnosed on 13th February and will be having chemo before surgery as they also found cancer in my lymph nodes.  I have been given a start date of 4th March for chemo and will get the results of my ct and heart scan on Friday, not sure if the results of these will change the start date or not.


I have finally forced myself to read the leaflets about the chemo and am now really terrified.  I am having 4 EC and then 4 Taxotere with Herceptin.  The side effects sound awful but it is the fear of getting an infection that is scaring me the most as it says infections can be life threating while on chemo.  Do any of you ladies who have been going through chemo have any advice/tips on avoiding infection while on chemo.


It all just seems so overwhelming and terrifying at the moment.  Janey xxx