Friday, April 23, 2010

The Three Cs: Cancer, Chemo and Colds

Which of these doesn't belong in the group?

After being diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer and undergoing some of the harshest chemo known to man, I would think that I would now sneeze in the face of colds. Only wimps complain about colds, right?

Wrong. After catching yet another cold four weeks ago, I've been tired, sluggish and grumpy. An active day is followed by a day of recuperation. And it seems that I no sooner recover from a cold or flu that I've caught another bug.

During my visit at City of Hope yesterday, I told my doctor that I now catch colds and flus more easily (I've had two bouts of the flu and two colds since December, with sick days outnumbering well days 5 to 1), that I'm knocked down harder and that it takes me longer to get back up again. He believes that my immune system was battered by the post-stem-cell-transplant maintenance Rituxan that I took every quarter for nearly two years. We cut short the last infusion because he suspected that my immune system was taking a hit.

"It's one of the things that we doctors often debate," he said. The efficacy of Rituxan for keeping patients in remission is uncertain. But the pummelling of the immune system with some patients on Rituxan is certain.

If someone had come to me with these facts before the decision to go with the maintenance Rituxan, I doubt that my decision would be different. I figured only a fool would pass on a chance for a longer remission because of a fear of sniffles.

But as I reach for one more Kleenex and cover one more cough, I'm beginning to wonder.

27 comments:

Ann said...

Susan, I'm so sorry to hear that you keep getting knocked down. Sending you love and hugs,
Ann

Teresa said...

When I finished chemo (one year ago April 30) I felt like I got every cold or bug that went around for the next 6 months. And I whined my head off about it! So I know what you mean. Hope you are feeling better soon!

Idelle said...

Feel better, Susan!

pasadenapio said...

I hope you're using the tissue with the lotion in it! Much easier on nose. I'm thinking of you, Susan.

The Food Librarian said...

Well, Susan, those colds can just suck it. Hope you feel better. Let me know if I can bring over some dessert (sorry, I can't cook very well so I can't bring you the best chicken soup, but I think cupcakes have medicinal powers.) - mary

Sue G said...

Chicken soup with matzo balls. A few carrots swimming around for color, but it is the soup and the matzo balls that heal the human cold.

Susan, if your weather is anything like ours here in AZ, it could very well be the culprit. One day 90, the next day 62. Even the best immune systems shutter at the thought of such wide pendulum swings.

I hope you feel better soon. Perhaps this is the perfect time to try that yummy soup recipe I sent you. Not the same as chicken soup, but still hearty, warm and very comforting.

Ronni Gordon said...

That seems to be the way it goes. They fix one thing and then they have to deal with the side effects of the drug you took to fix the first thing.

Hope you feel better.

susiegb said...

Hey Susan
Apart from the IV-IG (which you probably don't need/want!) the thing that has helped me really a lot against colds, is washing my hands. I never used to be a good hand-washer, but I now do it a lot lot more! Like every time I come in from shopping or anything.

I feel like I've had significantly less colds that I used to before NHL ... :) But - you probably do all that stuff already. Hope it all goes soon - going into Spring should help I hope!!

Nelle said...

I am sure your decision would be the same but I feel your pain. Part of the problem with me is that my immune system is hampered by my cancer treatments and spleen removal. Right now they are trying to figure out just what is causing what. I think I have coughed nonstop for four weeks. I have pulled one muscle to the point that it has spasmed for two weeks. It's frustrating to fight so hard and then not to have the good health to enjoy the days we have now.

Trish said...

ugh! so sorry Susan!

i had my first cold this Feb in like 4-5 years, Dx was 3 1/2 yrs ago...despite all the warnings of what to avoid, that your immune system is low during treatment...i haven't had chemo for what seems like eons and only now i get a cold? docs have no suggestions, other than power pump fluids and/or blood product to keep me "healthier".

best bet is to remember that hand washing and avoidance you had during treatments and keep it up.

matzo ball soup is a cure all. one doc i know says 7 bowls in a day.

wv: quasebman ....kemosabeman?

Cafe Pasadena said...

SC, do i understand u to say that "pummeling the immune system" somehow helps it to fight off cancer cells?

countrynmore said...

I am so sorry that you are getting knocked down with the cold and flu. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

altadenahiker said...

It would have been nice if they'd asked. Isn't that a decision the patient should help to make?

The Bush League Cook said...

Hi--just found your blog. What an amazing, amazing story. Hope you feel better soon!

Cafe Pasadena said...

Btw, SC, there will be a blogger get together on May 8th.

Petrea said...

I wish I had some answers for you, or at least some clementines.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Is there an alternative drug to Rituxan? Can you go off the drug, rest your immune system, then return to it at a later date?

Marc said...

And what would your doctor say to me Susan?

I was sick for 2 weeks in May, and which kept me off the bike (which if you know me at all is.....), and now I've been sick again this week.

It's not as bad as the last time, but I still feel like crap.

And I haven't had any treatment what so ever. I just hope MCL is not finally catching up to me.

Marc said...

Damn, if nothing else I'm definitely delirious.

I meant to say I was sick 2 weeks in April, and now I'm sick again this week. But you probably knew that.

Next time I'll preview b4 posting.

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Anonymous said...

男人有了外遇,但是他不想離婚
外遇情人面前,他可以享受著年輕戀愛般的美好
在回歸家庭時刻,他可以享受著老婆對他無微不至的照顧
在同事朋友面前,他可以享受著眾人對他的忌妒與羨慕
男人有了外遇,但是他不想離婚,他只想自私的擁有一切

Anonymous said...

知道他有了外遇
面對他的低聲下氣妳冷嘲熱諷、無理取鬧
妳瘋狂似的大吵大鬧
甚至到他的公司去亂、向他的親友抱怨、向鄰居們哭訴…
妳把他的外遇鬧的人盡皆知
最後,妳把他的愧疚消耗殆盡…
最後,妳把他想要回頭的念頭打消…
最後,妳自己把他推向外遇的第三者身邊…

Anonymous said...

知道他有了外遇
面對他的低聲下氣妳冷嘲熱諷、無理取鬧
妳瘋狂似的大吵大鬧
甚至到他的公司去亂、向他的親友抱怨、向鄰居們哭訴…
妳把他的外遇鬧的人盡皆知
最後,妳把他的愧疚消耗殆盡…
最後,妳把他想要回頭的念頭打消…
最後,妳自己把他推向外遇的第三者身邊…

Anonymous said...

人家都說男人到大陸都會外遇包二奶
老婆淚眼說擔心他外遇
他了解老婆的擔心,只好用錢去彌補分離的缺憾
漸漸的,老婆的電話愈來愈少…
她說,她是怕自己太依賴
漸漸的,他知道其實是她有了外遇
於是,面對自己外遇的行為,他忽然覺得好過了些…

Anonymous said...

男人有了外遇,但是他不想離婚
外遇情人面前,他可以享受著年輕戀愛般的美好
在回歸家庭時刻,他可以享受著老婆對他無微不至的照顧
在同事朋友面前,他可以享受著眾人對他的忌妒與羨慕
男人有了外遇,但是他不想離婚,他只想自私的擁有一切

Anonymous said...

人家都說男人到大陸都會外遇包二奶
老婆淚眼說擔心他外遇
他了解老婆的擔心,只好用錢去彌補分離的缺憾
漸漸的,老婆的電話愈來愈少…
她說,她是怕自己太依賴
漸漸的,他知道其實是她有了外遇
於是,面對自己外遇的行為,他忽然覺得好過了些…

Anonymous said...

男人有了外遇,但是他不想離婚
外遇情人面前,他可以享受著年輕戀愛般的美好
在回歸家庭時刻,他可以享受著老婆對他無微不至的照顧
在同事朋友面前,他可以享受著眾人對他的忌妒與羨慕
男人有了外遇,但是他不想離婚,他只想自私的擁有一切