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Old 07-28-2004, 02:45 PM   #1
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janice0815 HB User
Question why did chemo continue with low WBC??

Hi all, I'm new here...well for posting anyway...and thought this may be the best place to get some questions answered. My sister, 52, was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. It has spread to the lymph nodes and at the end of March was staged at IIIB. It took about three months for chemo to begin and is now being co-ordinated with radiation treatments too. After radiation began my sister white blood cell count began to seriously drop and she was put on Neupogen. Even after taking numerous (6-10) shots of Neupogen her WBC was a .5 but last week they still administered the chemo. This week she is off the Neupogen and went for blood testing to find her WBC at a .2 but they still gave her a small booster of chemo. I thought they usually wanted WBC counts between .5 and .10 for receiving chemo? Anyway, my sister is thinking positive to the point of denial I think. She says she's fine or terrific when I call and she doesn't report new aches and pains to doctors or read reports with a reality base thinking. I can understand and accept her denial. My problem is trying to get accurate real information in trying to be prepared. Does anyone know why they would still administer the chemo and radiation with her WBC so low? Please - I know it is hard for people to respond without it being positive but it seems so many of us out here are looking for honest opinions. Please respond even if it is not good news. I need to know where she's at honestly. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and consideration with these questions. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Old 07-29-2004, 06:09 AM   #2
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Location: Louisville, KY
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renee_ky HB Userrenee_ky HB User
Re: why did chemo continue with low WBC??

Hi Janice- My husband's white blood cells counts also dropped dramatically during chemo therapy. The Doctor made a decision to lower the dosage of chemo therapy, rather than post pone it. This decision was based on the severity of the growth of the cells. In your sisters case, the doctors probably did what they thought was best. I am not sure what kind of lung cancer your sister has. My husband has small cell lung cancer, and it is a very fast growing cancer. Though his white blood cell counts were extremely low, he was administered a lower dose of chemo, and recovered from the ill effects. I hope she will do the same.


Old 07-30-2004, 11:45 AM   #3
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janice0815 HB User
Re: why did chemo continue with low WBC??

Thanks for your input renee_ky - I was thinking the same thing. It's very difficult to try and figure out where "things" are when my sister herself isn't asking the questions but I do respect her choices so will continue to try and research and ask questions here. It's been extremely frustrating in the sense that she seems to refuse reality and stays with "thinking positive". I too believe in thinking positive and in that - doing everything possible to better my chances for the outcome I'd like to receive. Unfortunately, in her "staying positive" she didn't change her eating habits or lifestyle until her cancer treatment made her slow down. I think her positive thinking was more along the lines of denial. Now her throat is too sore (from chemo and radiation?) to be able to eat much and has been recommended by the doctor's to drink nutrient drinks like Boost and Ensure. She is really tired as well now which is reducing her exposure to the risks of infections. When do the doctor's consider blood transfusions? and is it possible for them to do a bone marrow transplant that siblings may be able to help with? She is diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer but it seems to be quite aggressive and I'm concerned that it may be moving to the brain as she has complained that her mind isn't working right anymore and described what could have been a mini stroke.

It must be extremely difficult for you. The whole "cancer" experience is so extremely scary. What do you do to look after yourself?


Old 07-31-2004, 09:16 AM   #4
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renee_ky HB Userrenee_ky HB User
Re: why did chemo continue with low WBC??

Hi Janice- I know excactly how you feel (kind of) Scott was (is) the same way, wit the positive attitude. But I have to tell you, I don't think he woudl have made it this far without that attitude. Scott does not ask questions either, that is why I take him to every Doctor's appointment he has, and I am generally the one asking the tough questions. The "really tough" questions, I do not ask with him in the room, I call them, or talk to them while he is in radiation. I want him to keep his positive attitude. But like you said, there is a fine line between "positive attitude" and "denial", it is tricky, and sometimes very frustrating.

The sore throat is common with radiation to the chest, because teh esophagus gets burnt. Scott is having this problem right now. I try to give him things that he can swallow, but even plain ole' water hurts. He eats mostly, popsicles (not ice cream, dairy products produces saliva, increasing the need to swallow) jello, scrambles eggs with cheese, boost, and the new cheetos puffed corn.. he loves this, it dissolves!

The memory issue is also natural, it can be called "radiation brain" or "chemo brain", because both cause short term memory problems, ususally temporary.

Yes, cancer is very difficult! It is the most heartbreaking, devastating, relentless disease I have ever seen. It makes me very angry. I take care of myself, because I know I have to. It would be so easy to get down, but I remind myself "scott needs me". I try to eat as best as I can, and sleep as best as I can. If I am not in good shape, I am no good for Scott. And, I want to take care of him to the best of my ability, and spend as much time with him as I can.

I pray for the best for your Sister. I have 2 sisters and I coudl not imagine going through this with either of them. And I pray for your strength, because she will need you as well.


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