Thanks for your comments, I have also read the PICC or not thread and it is really useful. I tried to get hold of the chemo nurses yesterday, they were supposed to ring back but didn't so I'll try again Monday, I think I need to get on top of this sooner rather than later,as each day the pain seems to progress a bit further up my arm. My next session is 30th, so with Christmas and everything may not get sorted before then.
Don't like the idea of warming your hand in a bowl of water, fortunately for me they gave me a little electric blanket to wrap round my hand for 10 mins.
I have pain in areas of my arm where no discolouring is visiable, so my inexperienced opinion is that it probably is plebitus.
I managed 5 yest with a canula so am hoping 6 will be managed too.
I had my PICC put in this morning, and I know I may have been one of the lucky ones, but it went in absolutely no problem at all. I was in and out within half an hour, and straight on to the chemo ward from there for my 1st FEC.
I think I was more anxious about the PICC than the chemo (!), but so far so good. It's been in situ for eight hours now, and it's not hurting a bit, and I'm sure it speeded up the whole chemo process. My veins are rubbish to find - they see a white coat coming and what feeble veins there are dive for cover. The chemo nurse was thrilled that I'd had a PICC, esp. once she'd looked at my arms. There was a lady on the ward who was warming up her arm in a bowl of water to try to bring the veins up... it took an hour, poor thing - so right at this point I do not regret the decision to PICC at all.
If it keeps me awake all night, now... lol
Sorry that you have joined the 'club' so to speak. Each chemo session you have is a step closer to the last one. Good luck with the rest of your treatment matey. Hope you get the advice you need from this website. I have found it very helpful with questions I wanted to ask and support.
In reference to your post, I had a mild problem after my first FEC chemo with the back of my hand being a little swollen and felt very bruised up to just past my wrist. I just assumed it was like that after the cannula. I mean, you don't really know what to expect do you?
After my second Chemo the swelling and pain went right up to my elbow and I couldn't straighten my arm. I did see a gp about it, but unfortunately she didn't know what to do and just said for me to keep an eye on my temp in case the site was infected. It wasn't.
I spoke to the oncology unit and a Breast care nurse who reccommended that I get seen and advised me about the possibility of getting a picc line. They told me that the picc line needs to be done prior to the chemo as it is a 'procedure'.
I found the picc or not to picc link very helpful too.
My advice honey would be to get in touch with your oncology ward and get them to look at your arm. Just so you know what you are dealing with. They can give you a pain relieving gel to put on your arm and also advise you about whether you need a picc line or not.
I was going to wait until my next chemo to say something, but glad I went in and had it looked at because they also found 2 blood clots that had formed as a result of the trauma of the chemo. So, I have learnt now to ask for help sooner.
Take care, Hope your side effects are starting to diminish and that you can enjoy xmas.
Lone (Kulakatz) x
I was borderline for having a picc line because of poor veins, my only good veins were on op side. Decided to go with cannualas and also had some pain and swelling with first fec, lasted about 10 days. 2nd one, swelling started earlier and had a swelling and bruising from the vein they took prechemo bloods from so decided to go with a picc line before 3rd fec. Rang my chemo unit and it was booked in for day of prechemo bloods and they had trouble finding a vein but got there in the end and I wish I had had this from beginning. So ring your chemo unit and ask their advice. The picc line takes some getting use to but after a while you don't notice it, bit like wearing a watch or a ring.
There is a thread on the undergoing chemotherapy title about to picc or not so lots of advice and experiences there but give your chemo unit a ring and ask their advice.
Hope it soon gets sorted for you,
Hi, I had my first FEC chemo on 9th December via a canula, and a few days ago started noticing a pain/tenderness in my wrist which has now spread up to my elbow. There is nothing visible on the surface, but my veins are not very visible anyway, they had to warm my hand to find them.
Sounds like I may be starting with the effect that you are talking about, is it normal to start after the 1st? What questions is it worth asking the nurses about, as they didn't mention this as a side effect.
Just had last chemo yesterday. Fortunately it was an experienced sister administering the drugs and she took her time choosing a vein so no probs in the end.
Jo, I have minor superficial phlebitis that they look on as the "well, this happens" only I don't think "this". Haven't had pins and needles that associated with it, just pins and needles from lying awkwardly when blood pressure is low.
Funnily enough, the telephone call from the unit re progress, the nurse asked if I had had any more pins and needles and I nearly accused her of having the wrong notes, as ol'Kemo Brane had forgotten.
Confessed to them today.
To my enormous relief they found a good vein today, my nurse had to call in another nurse to do it, as she is left handed and it was a very awkward angle for her.
Like you, I didn't want to have a PICC for two sessions,hope it goes well for you tomorrow.
I have a friend thats a nurse that advised me to go for a PICC but I didn't want one because I've only got 2 chemo left. Last time (chemo 4) I had a shot of hydro cortisone to stop the plebitus developing in the new vein and it seems to have worked. It does worry me in case I need more chemo later tho.
I've been doing the exercises as recommended on here.
One question; does anyone have problems with pins and needles from plebitus?
I have a friend who is 3 years post-surgery and doing fine - but still has completely screwed veins in her arm - there is only one point where she can have bloods drawn, and she told me she still has a fight on her hands to get any nurse to believe her! Knowing this, when I had my dx and found out I'd need chemo - I already had the plan to ask for a PICC - particularly as the first three of my regime contain the E that causes so many probs.
However, without her 'history' and without reading info from the fab women on this site, I wouldn't have had a clue about the potential damage to veins - and as I only have one 'good' arm to give/take blood etc from - I wish that the hospitals would be a lot more pro-active in giving us this information and telling us about the options available - whether it's sticking with the cannula, or opting for PICC/Hickman etc etc.
The chemo nurse was absolutely supportive when I explained my reasoning for wanting a PICC put in - I had all my arguments 'for it' ready.. and then she took one look at my arm and told me that I'd have needed one anyway as my veins are crap.......
I haven't had it in yet - that's due next Fri, the same day as my first chemo - so I can't offer any views on what it's like to have one in place - but right now I will do anything I can to take care of the 'crap' veins that I have!
Ha ha! I wish that WAS my wig. It's an old pic. My wig IS OK but I can't bear wearing it.
Thank you for the nice comments about my blog Jan. It helps LOADS writing it. I'm not completely honest in it because colleages and friends read it and some things are TOO personal but most of it's in there.
I had FEC4 2 1/2 weeks ago and I've been fine apart from chemo day. I'm not brave, I HATE it. I can bear the plebitus, I'm just worried I'll need a line in. I DO have lots of SE but most of them are minor. FEC 2 was the worst. I vomited for 3 days but I think they've got the meds right to control the SE now. I hope. In my opinion, chemo is HELL. Only people that have had it know how awful it is.
The advice to do the post surgery exercises was really useful, thanks Eva. I've been getting pins and needles in my arm but hopefully the exercise will help.
Thank you Jo - you just made my day! Can u send me a link to your website please?
Jan - dvtt sounds rough. And I wonder if anyone really sails through chemo. Sometimes I let people think it's easier than it is because I don't think they want to hear the truth and I don't want to be a complainer. It's been a surprise to see who can handle it and who can't.
Hi Jo, well, the most obvious symptom was the discomfort. As a nurse, I knew that it shouldn't be painful. I'd only had the darned thing in for a couple of weeks but my Mac nurse decided it should come out and get the arm scanned which was when they spotted the DVT. That has been as scary as the cancer diagnosis. I have to have the Clexane for 3 months and hopefully that will be the end of it.
I've found the chemo itself pretty gruelling. It knocks me off for about a week afterwards - I just curl up in bed and want to be left alone. As my last one is on 22 Dec, Christmas is going to be a bit of a non-event until at least 27/28th. Darling husbie (who is a SAINT) will be waiting on me hand and foot as per. The only positive is that it is the LAST ONE (hooray) then rads in January then hopefully back to work.
I went to a BC support meeting recently and there were women there who were sailing through chemo with/without a picc, and experiencing little or no side effects at all. Just the bloody luck of the draw I guess.
Your wig also looks fab - I have a wig which is really nice but tend to wear it only when I go out so that I don't frighten the horses or small children! It also keeps my head warm under a hat in this freezing weather!
Thanks Jan! I hate it which is why I've changed my pic! They are comfy but...
You ALSO look gorgeous without hair!
I've got 2 chemo left and really don't want a line in. How've you found it? And what were the symptoms you noticed for the DVT?
I've also had problems with phlebitis. Had a picc fitted but ended up with a DVT and now have to have daily Clexane jab to bust the clot in my arm. Ho hum! Still - last FEC due on 22 December so hopefully things will improve after that.
Jo - I love your hat.
Can I just say, Lilac, how AMAZING you look, without hair! If I looked like that, I'd be proud to walk around hat/scarf/wig free!
I have trouble with my arm, phlebitus, which is tight and pulling. I'm just hoping it holds out for my last 2 FEC.
i had terrible arm troubles when i did fec (I finished in Feb this year). Anyway, my arm is much more back to normal now, it's even easier to get a blood sample out now!
I did lots of exercises with my arm, as my onc said how important it was to keep moving. I did the exercises that are recommended after a mast.
hope this helps
Just seeing how many of you are posting about this makes me cross at our medical teams! If it happens so regularly after the FEC, than why aren't they doing something about it? I haven't had any trouble with the FEC since having the picc line put in, but am annoyed they didn't sort that out from the start to save me all these problems.
When I went for my picc line the nurses said that they would always reccommnend a picc when having the FEC. Too late for my poor left arm though!
Not only did they leave me with a painful wrist and arm, but I ended up with 2 lots of blood clots after the trauma of the chemo.
(Sorry about the rant!)
i had cording in my right side after my first cancer and was just the effects of surgery.
when i got chemo (e-cmf) for the cancer in the other side they gave my 1st chemo (epi) in the original side and after about 10 days my veins were knackered....
had subsequent chemos in the most recently affected side and again about 10 days later and for a number of months afterwards i had continuous pain.
now i only get it when i turn my arm in certain ways but i have ibuprofen gel which i have to use fairly regularly but it does help.
iv been seen by physio in the past but told it will heal by itself.
the actual veins may never recover and every time i give blood its excruciating and nearly makes me cry.... my last chemo was november last year so it can take a while to get better.
I had a leak with Epirubicin too which fried a vein in my right arm (the BC affected side). I had my chemo before surgery and no-one told me I should always use the "good" side. Consequently when I had surgery it flared up again and my radiotherapy was delayed until I could restore movement enough to get into the right positon.
That was a year past September and I still get pain and discolouration in my arm where the damage is. It's more of an inconvenience than anything and makes me a bit self conscious wearing short sleeves. I'm happy that I got the mobility back since I'm right handed. A wee word of caution to anyone just starting out. Make sure your medical team always use the correct arm.
I had the same problem with veins after FEC 3. I had a red patch where the veins had hardened which was quite tender to touch and I couldn't straighten my arm. Since I had my PICC line put in it has got a bit better, not so tender as it was and I can almost straighten the arm. But it still looks a bit red and the veins feel a bit hard. My chemo nurses told me that it will heal on its own but can take quite a while before it's properly right. It's that horrible red stuff that does it!
My veins were fried by chemo (FEC & 1 Tax). Thankfully all better now - it's 2 years since I finished chemo. But I still have an indentation in that arm and only the most skilled senior phlebotomist can get blood out of it. I had a complete donkey of a nurse make a huge mess of that arm recently eventhough I'd told her my veins were possibly iffy. Just a warning for the years ahead!
I had a very sore arm after cycle 2 & 3 of FEC. I had a Port - a-cath put into my chest this week as they were really struggling to find a good vein to use! Also have to have herceptin for a year, so took the plunge. The used the port on Wednesday for herceptin and yesterday for chemo 4, which is now Docetaxel. It was so much easier, although the chemo nurse said that it may still affect the sore veins in my arm as it travels around the whole body, but not to the same extent.
I have the tightness and pain when I try to straighten my arm, so thanks for your feedback, it's great that this will ease with time. Hang on in there. Karen xx
I had FEC 2 years ago and the epirubicin really did my veins in. Mine also looked like a patchwork quilt! However it has eased up over time and I have no problems now with flexibility, this has come back naturally with no particular exercise. My veins are still quite hard although an awful lot better than when I finished when they could barely find a 'good' vein to use.
I had one of my veins with a simialr problem which happened with FEC2. Have just had number 6 so about 12 weeks since it happened and only realised on reading your posts that it no longer hurts or feels tight. I can see a slight depression but only in a bright light and if I stretch my arm out straight. Hope you find the same soon.
My arm was damaged recently too, so thanks for your posts guys. They told me it would take time to heal. Suppose it is lucky for me that it is my left arm and I am right handed.
Thanks J and Chris - that was the reassurance I needed. Love swimming and miss it - will definitely take it up again when chemo and radiotherapy over
I to have damaged veins after chemo. My arm looks like a patchwork quilt. I last had chemo administered in that arm in july.
When I asked the oncologist about it he said it could take upto a year to get better.
It isn't all that painful anymore it just looks awful.
I started swimming after I finished my chemo and I think this helped with the pain, as like you it was sore when I stretched my arm. The oncologist said swimming is the best form exercise to help it.
Yes, I had a damaged vein after my EC/Tax reqime July - Dec 2008. I think it was the epirubicin that did it for me - I ended up with a tight vein that ran up to the inside of my elbow which pulled and hurt if I tried to twist my arm too far outwards.
I didn't do any specific exercises other than trying to use my arm as normally as possible, and over time the tightness has virtually gone. If I twist my arm now, I can still see a small area pulling right by the elbow, but otherwise it looks and feels normal, and has done for a few months now. Based on my limited experience I would say that it will get better on its own, but may take quite a time.
Best of luck,
I have a vein which has hardened after chemo and is painful when I try to straighten my arm. My onc referred me to the physiotherapist who couldn't help because it wasn't muscular or lymphatic damage. He said it would heal in time.
Has anyone else had experience of this? Does it eventually get better?