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Old 07-21-2007, 08:14 AM   #1
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Question Questions for Monday

I'm meeting with the radiologist Monday and my cancer doctor to go over treatments and have blood work. I never even knew I was having radiation and this came as quite a shock. It won't be until I'm done and I have 7 more to go. But I've been bad and reading on the net and I read the radiation can cause another cancer??? Is that true and if so why have it done? I just don't want to look like a complete idiot when I go there.

I'm really foggy in the brain and can't think right. I expected some of the side effects like tiredness and nausea. But I've been having a lot of stomach cramping and the sores in my mouth make it so hard to eat anything solid. Thank goodness I have popsicles. I did have a temp for a few days but today it's normal.

Is there anything else that I should be asking? I'm just so overwhelmed and confused right now.

Kayla

 
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Old 07-21-2007, 11:08 AM   #2
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Re: Questions for Monday

Kayla,
I just posted you, before I read this.
I, too, am having radiation. They've come leaps & bounds from what I hear...it's not as risky as it once was. I still have reservations, though--
Linda on here is the one that had me ask the proper questions when I met with my radiologist. I asked about secondary cancers, and he told me the risk was "small" (easy for him to say, huh?) because they are only targeting very small areas. In my case, I have 3 areas. The collarbone node area (where the node was removed) and 2 more lymph nodes in my chest. He assured me, it was the right thing to do, to eliminate any nasty cells lurking behind. It's a follow-up protocol at my Oncologist's, I'm finding out...Although, I'm still not exactly thrilled, after I heard it makes you very, very tired, and of course, there's risks involved.
I'm still learning about it, as I move along. After my chemo, I have one month off....then radiation.
I think there's risks with just about anything---so, basically I suppose you have to weigh your options. I was thinking of getting a second opinion...I still don't know. I want to get through chemo first.
Don't fret too much. One day at a time, is a good policy.
And I just can't stress being "positive" enough. It helps. I think it changes your body, when your mental is operating better....

Last edited by singer78; 07-21-2007 at 11:09 AM.

 
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Old 07-21-2007, 11:11 AM   #3
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Re: Questions for Monday

Forgot to add:
I've been taking Acyclovir for herpes/mouth sores.
It's been a god-send. Maybe you can ask for that, if you're a candidate.
Good luck

 
Old 07-21-2007, 01:02 PM   #4
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Re: Questions for Monday

I don't know why Singer but the thought of radiation has me even more nervous than the chemo, if that's possible. Again I'm reading on the net and MUST STOP!!!

I won't know anymore until I meet him Monday. I can stand being tired just so long as it doesn't make me nauseous. I know I've just started but so far that's been the worse part. But today I'm feeling good so I'm going out to buy myself a great big ice cream before the tiredness starts.

Kayla

 
Old 07-21-2007, 02:19 PM   #5
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Re: Questions for Monday

Write down your questions in advance. Ask about secondary cancer-risk (learned that from Linda).
No, there's not supposed to be any nausea associated with radiation--at least I HOPE not. I've just heard about the tiredness. I actually asked my Radiologist how radiation kills cancer cells and he said "We really don't know." How 'bout that answer???? I found it refreshing because of his honesty, but questionable for the medical field. They don't know??? Yikes.
I know some of our friends on here, from the UK, only had chemo...but, they had more rounds of it. I'm not fond of having it, either...but, I don't want any recurrence, that's for sure !

Oh yes....stay off those scary sites. It does absolutely NO good for your nerves. I should talk, huh????

Last edited by singer78; 07-21-2007 at 02:22 PM.

 
Old 07-22-2007, 07:24 AM   #6
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Re: Questions for Monday

Hello girls,
Found you all over here. You can get radiation nausea but it is in the small minority of people who do. You can use the same medication to offset it so it should not be too bad. Fatigue is the biggest complaint. You can experience some skin irritation where the radiation beam is to a minor burn almost like sunburn. Hair loss is possible but only if the beam is on the scalp. There is a 5% chance of getting another cancer in 5-10 yrs and in some cases 20 yrs or longer. Unfortunately my brother fell in the 5% chance. Leukemia is in the smallest risk group but of course when it happens to someone you love all the percentages do not mean a thing. Just be aware of the risks and the benefits.
Chemo also has its own risks so nothing is without risk. I guess if you can obtain a cure and that is most possible with getting radiation than you should weigh the pros and cons. If you have a 90% chance of a cure getting radiation and a 5% chance that you will get another cancer from the radiation I guess it is reasonable to go for it. When you look at it that way it does not seem to be such a great risk. You have a higher risk of getting cancer if you smoke and that does not stop people from smoking.
Radiation is painless for the most part other than some discomfort you may get with repeated treatments such as skin irritation and mouth sores if the radiation beam is directed to your head or neck area.
I hope that this helps some in arming yourself with some information. As always if you drink plenty of water it is beneficial cause it helps reduce the irritation to your soft tissue. Water so essential to life so drinking it makes the body work better.

I am only giving you information but you have to make up your own mind according to what your doc tells you. He is the expert in the field and calculates the risk on your behalf. Going ahead with knowledge and making
an informative decision based on what you know is the best way to go.

What I have learned over 30 yrs of working in this field is to never stop asking
questions and if something does not seem right to you it probably isn't. My inner voice has saved not only me and my family but many of my patients over the years from medical mistakes. Alot of general practice physicians are
not up on all the ins and outs a patient having chemotherapy. If you happen to still go to your general practice physician just be aware that if they take your blood and the results are not good that they are seeing things based on what would be abnormal if you were not having any kind of chemo. For a chemo patient those lab values would not be as critical. I am telling you this to prevent you from having to run to the ER for unnessary transfusions or care in the ER setting. Always have your general practice doc and your oncology doc on the same page and confer with one another to avoid any
complications. I hope that I am making this clear.

Well have a nice day to all. Hope that you are all feeling better,

Hugs to all
Linda

 
Old 07-22-2007, 09:25 AM   #7
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Re: Questions for Monday

Hi Linda,
As always, this is one of your letters I'll refer to, down the road.
As you can see Kayla & I, both are experiencing a little anxiety over the "radiation" part...as if "chemo" isn't scary enough.
Yes, I know...you do have to weigh the risks & also listen to your doctor.
You mentioned getting your primary caregiver and Oncologist "on the same page," but, I don't believe mine have ever conferred. I'm actually not very happy with my primary caregiver at this point, because the last few years, I kept going back to him over & over...blood work here, blood work there....He never caught anything! Finally, when my collarbone lymph gland was so obvious, that's when he figured he'd better run more extensive tests. Why he didn't do that before, still angers me. Although---who knows? Nothing may have even shown up then. I suppose we can't "go back," can we?
At this point, most of my faith lies within my Oncologist. My ENT got the "ball rolling," though---although, I remember when he first took out my lymph gland, he thought it was fully contained---he didn't realize it was trying to invade my chest lymph glands. I think it was rather aggressive. You know, that's one question I keep forgetting to ask--if I had an aggressive form, or not. From them pushing me through so quickly, I can't help but think it was. Anyway, I thank God for those 2 doctors. They're the one's that pushed me through and I think, are saving my life.
How's your brother doing?
I hope he's improving.
As always, thanks for the info.
It helps so much!
XO S.

 
Old 07-22-2007, 10:59 AM   #8
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Re: Questions for Monday

Thanks for the info Linda and you too Singer.

Right now I just feel so confused about all this. Here they want to give you radiation to get rid of "all" the cancer and it could cause cancer. They give you chemo to kill the cells and then you need blood work to make sure you have enough. No wonder I'm confused.

I've been writing down things to ask and also about the med for mouth sores. But on the top of my list is the radiation and if it's really necessary.

Head's splitting. I'll be back later, I hope.

Kayla

 
Old 07-22-2007, 01:20 PM   #9
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Re: Questions for Monday

Hello , Just got back from a drive in the mountains and farmlands. We took Madison with us our kitty. He loves to be with us.

Singer, my brother is doing as well as expected. He lives only because of the transfusions. His bone marrow is gone as this point. I guess they will not have much to kill when he goes back in 2 Mondays from now. He is very tired as he has severe anemia. Thank you for asking about him. We will be there next Sat. and I am making a lasagna dinner with meatballs and garlic bread and then the next day he will be in the hospital for over a month for the transplant.

Kaylar I will try and help to make more sense of this. The chemo and radiation kill cancer cells. In turn though they can kill normal healthy cells too. They try to miminize that by certain chemo agents and to try and use low dose radiation.
The reason they draw your blood is to make sure that the chemo is not causing harm to your bone marrow. That is where new cells are formed before they are introduced into your blood stream where they become white blood cell, red blood cells and platelets, etc. The bone marrow is essential to life and when you have leukemia and other blood diseases it can become compromised and cause many life threatening problems. Most people have minor problems that do not manifest into anything further once their treatment has stopped. Others may develop some problems later but usually most will not.
With Non Hodgkins Lymphoma they use Rituxan which is an antimicrobal antibody. They introduce this drug one day prior to chemo so it targets the cancer cells only and leaves healthy cells alone. It is a very important drug that is used specifically for NHL. Some patients continue with Rituxan to keep the disease in remission but they may have stopped that practice since I retired.

Singer, I am not sure if the Hodgkins would have shown up on your lab or not.
The only telltale sign that docs look for is anemia and in NHL an elevated LDH.
You can have these be abnormal for many reasons so it is not used solely as
a diagnostic tool. Once you have a lymph node that is enlarged and multiple ones elsewhere then it is time to investigate further. At that point they usually do a biopsy. Other chemistries can alert a physician to a problem but alot of docs take a wait and see approach to things.

Not all NHL's are treated with radiation. My mother had the same type that you do Kaylar and she did not require it. It may have had something to do with her age but I do not remember her oncologist recommending it. She was also cured with no sign of the disease for almost 3 yrs. She passed away from a heart attack not from NHL.

You may want to seek another opinion or seek out other treatment options that your oncologist has if you decide not to go ahead with it.

Hope this helps some. Have a nice evening and hope that you both are feeling ok.

Hugs Linda

Last edited by LINDA505; 07-22-2007 at 01:26 PM.

 
Old 07-22-2007, 03:13 PM   #10
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Re: Questions for Monday

Hey Kayla.
First i want to say STOP reading stuff on the net! (except cancerbacup) If you have any questions or worries write them down for your onc.

I never had radiation therapy so i can't really give advice on the side effects or anything but the chemo is just another form of radiation and there are small but increased chances of the chemo causing the development of a secondary cancer later on. But the risks for both are really small. Your onc has worked out a treatment plan thats best for you and he/she wouldn't be doing this if they didn't think it was the best course to give you.

I hope you're feeling a bit better, it is strange they never told you you were getting radiotherapy before you started treatment but just keep asking questions. And seriously, don't read sites on the net, ask your doc for information sheets or a booklet, i spent a week crying because of something i read on the net and it was all untrue!

Take care.
amanda
xxxxxx

 
Old 07-23-2007, 08:36 AM   #11
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Re: Questions for Monday

What is the difference between chemotherapy and radiotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat an illness, radiotherapy is the use of radiation in treatment. Strictly speaking chemotherapy is the use of drugs in any illness but in recent years the word has come to be associated mainly with the drug treatment of cancer. There are more than a hundred different drugs available for cancer treatment and these fall into two main groups: cytotoxics and hormones. Cytotoxics are drugs which act directly on cancer cells to destroy them. They are used in a wide variety of different cancers. Hormones are drugs which are suitable for a limited number of cancers (particularly breast and prostate tumours) where changes in the hormone levels in the blood can influence the growth of the disease. Not everyone who develops a cancer will need chemotherapy, the choice of treatment varies with different types of cancer. Radiotherapy is mainly, but not exclusively, used for cancer treatment. Again not everyone with cancer will need radiotherapy. Radiotherapy uses ionising radiation to kill cancer cells. The treatment is usually given by machines which produce a beam of high energy x-rays. The patient then lies on a bed under the machine and the beam is directed at the site of the cancer. The treatment is usually given as an out-patient. For some tumours radiotherapy may be given in the form of radioactive pellets or seeds placed close to or into the cancer, this is called brachytherapy.

Hope this helps to define between the two therapies. Radiation and chemo are two distinct modalities that are used for the same reason, to kill cancer cells.


Linda

Last edited by LINDA505; 07-23-2007 at 08:37 AM.

 
Old 07-23-2007, 10:48 PM   #12
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Re: Questions for Monday

Linda---Wow! Do you know your stuff, or what????
I'm heading to bed, and thought I'd say a quick "thanks" for all your valuable info. I'd write more, but I feel like I've been hit with a ton of bricks all of a sudden---I think it's the Neulasta I had earlier. I'm a big girl, though---I can cope (fingers crossed)....
Good night.

 
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