Chemotherapy Treatment
Posted by Scot (+44) 16 years ago
My Mother started Chemotherapy Treatment last week, but only lasted 2 treatments before there were problems.
Her Heart rate went up so much She ended up in the Emergency Room. Is this normal???
Our Mother is about 5'7" and only weighs 100 lbs. She is having problems keeping the weight on. Could this be the problem?
Her orgin of Cancer is unknown. Don't understand that either.
Without treatment She will most likely die. We don't want that, Just a way to do Chemo without giving Her a Heart Attack.
Does anyone know anything?
Posted by Levi Forman (+3712) 16 years ago
I certainly sympathize, but this may not be the best place to get medical advice. If your doctors aren't helping you, you might try the boards at or some other cancer support site.
Posted by Betty Emilsson (+74) 16 years ago
Every case is different. You need to ask her doctor these questions. I am surprised they haven't discussed it with your mother. Perhaps she needs to have you with her when she goes for consultation. My prayers are with you and your mother. This is a very stressful time for you both.

[This message has been edited by Betty Emilsson (edited 2/12/2007).]
Posted by Kacey (+3159) 16 years ago
Get your mother to a big hospital like in Billings at the Billings Clinic where she will have a whole staff of specialists. Reactions do happen with chemo. She definitely needs specialized care. They should have a nutritionist keeping a close eye on her. Blessings on you and your mother.
Posted by Johnnie Lockett Thomas (+395) 16 years ago
Every patient, even when on the same regiment has a different experience. I'm surprised that her oncologist didn't talk with her at length about side effects etc. Unlike my experience in 1999, when I was diagnosed last year, I spent at least 45 minutes in discussion with the doctor and had to sign a 15 page consent form. I also came home with more than half a dozen pamphlets on various issues as well as a thick 3 ring binder from the Billings Clinic. It discusses all of the chemo meds, their possible side effects, and a 24-hour hotline number. Specific topics covered in this one guide cover an overview of symptoms, anemia, anxiety, bleeding, body changes, breathing problems, constipation, dehydration, depression, diarrhea, fatigue. fever. hand/foot syndrome, infection, memory and concentration, mouth pain and mucositis, nausea and vomiting, neutropenia, nutrition, pain management, hygiene, sexuality, sleep disturbances, skin rash, itching, heartburn, rapid heart rate, chest pain, pale skin, ringing in your ears, difficulty thinking, dizziness, fainting, , blood in urine or stool, nosebleeds that don't stop, uncontrolled cough, wheezing, temperature above 100,5. back pain, stomach cramps, loss of balance, fluid intake, eating problems, disorientation,and on and on. It also lists the circumstances inder which I should notify the doctor. And it warns the patient to "Ask questions of the doctor and other healthcare team members. Do not assume anything. If you are not sure, use the telephone numbers provided and call."

I am one of those people who has suffered every negative side effect known to mankind. And part of the extra challenge I face is that even though I have one particularly helpful friend who is an RN, a boyfriend who flies out every month to fill the freezer with cooked food,and a large number of the population of the town help me with grocery shopping, the Post Office,and other things that you are accustomed to doing without thinking. I live alone with no caregiver and taking care of oneself is a real challenge when it takes you an hour to bath, you're too fatigued to stay awake for more than an hour or two at a time, your equipment malfunctions, and the simple task of making a bed is a horror. One night I called my the hotline chemo nurse bacause of a problem.When they were unable to explain what I needed to do to solbe the problem, I called my chemo nurse. When I was unable to get her, her I called the Mary Margaret,angel of Miles City who came over, figured out how to solve the problem, problem and then sat there on my bed comforting me and easing the fear the problem had generated.I finally hired a couple of people to help me with the most mundane tasks and it is still a problem. Taking care of me is more than a fulltime job.

I hope your Mom finds the kind of support from the medical community and the generous people of this town that I enjoy. Please tell her thats I wish her the very, very best.

Johnnie Lou Lockett Thomas
Posted by gypsykim (+1556) 16 years ago
You could try the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or at
Good luck, my prayers are with you.
Posted by Scot (+44) 16 years ago
I wasn't looking for medical advise. I had called the doctor, the Cancer Center and other people in hopes of some help.
I had lots of question with no answers. It seems when there is "No Point Of Orgin" no one knows anything.
So I wrote on here with hopes that someone else had gone through Chemo and could share.
Thanks to those who have done that.
I guess it is stressful to not know and a fear that our Mom will die.
The only thing I think I learned from the Doctors, is Stage 4 Cancer is throughout the body.
Posted by Barb Holcomb (+407) 16 years ago

I'm not an oncology nurse, but I am an RN. In my experience, when a patient presents with Stage 4 cancer with metastesis (spread to other organs), it is very difficult to determine the primary tumor (where it started). In some regards - it doesn't really matter, because at that point surgery isn't usually an option. Trials of Chemotherapy and/or radiation are done to see if there is any response- but in many cases only prolong the inevitable. Both are very harsh on the body as Johnnie mentioned. Many patients just can't tolerate the side effects and would rather take their chances of a shorter life without it, than live a little longer with the horrible side effects. Rapid heart rate is a side effect. Weight loss is a side effect of chemo, but rapid weight loss is also a symptom of cancer. Each case is different.

I don't mean this next part to sound cold and uncaring - but it is reality. The unknown is very frustrating and cancer is very scary. It sounds as though you should be talking with your mom about what she wants done if she should stop breathing or go into an unresponsive state. What type of heroic measures, if any, does she want - (tubes for breathing, eating, attempts to restart her heart if it stops, etc.)? She should put it in writing - an advanced medical directive - and hopefully everyone in your family knows what she wants when the time comes. This is a very difficult thing to talk about and decide, but it will help everyone to do it now while she is able, rather than when it becomes a crisis. Spend as much time as you can wih your mom. Help her do those things she wants to do and feels up to doing. Talking about her dying won't make it happen or speed it up - but it will help you all come to terms with it. Good luck to you and God Bless.

[This message has been edited by Barb Holcomb (edited 2/13/2007).]
Posted by Scot (+44) 16 years ago
Thanks Barb

We will talk to our Mom about her wishes and try to get it in writing.
She can not do Chemo any more because of problems. The doctors are giving her 1 year or less. I found out last night.
I didn't know it was this serious.
Maybe the forum is not a place to talk about this, but I just needed to talk somewhere.
My Brothers and Sisters are too upset to talk and my Friends are like, that is life.
Thanks for listening.
Posted by Johnnie Lockett Thomas (+395) 16 years ago

Barb has brought the sticky issue to the table. Again, my oncologist told me from the beginning that I was terminal. I was very luck that my oncologist assembled a panel of his colleagues to determine what the possibilities were as far as my primary cancer. Then, they did a needle biopsy to solve the mystery and gave me the choice as to how I wanted to proceed. They also had the conversation with me about what I wanted in terms of quality of life.and they provided the necessary forms that deal with those issues that Barb was talking about.

I am shown the computer images of my cancer every month and I get a long consultation at that time. No doctor ever gave me a time line for death, but I was diagnosed in the first week of March last year. I had a near miss last summer, but to all of my doctors' surprise and delight, I am still kicking.

Scot, I so understand your dilemma in finding people to talk to about death. I sometimes get a wee bit ticked when people tell me that my idea of facing death on my own terms is "giving up.: I am told I have to have "a positive attitude"
As soon as I found out I was terminal,I started doing the things I needed to do. I went shopping for a clergyman and a church where I could have a life celebration suitable to my personality. I chose the prayers, the music,, and everything else. I went back to Stevensons and made some changes to my prepaid funeral. I took Robin Gerber's class dealing with death. I filled out all of the forms provided to me by the clergy, the funeral home and Robin. They were very helpful.

Those things done, I started packing up my wonderful library to send off to my son in Maine and I gave some of my most valued possessions to a couple of museums. With all of my children living back East, I was too ill to have a yard sale so I am in the process of giving my size 16, 14 and 12 clothes to people I love. I was lucky enough to find people who were delighted to have my Limoge and other spectacular china,and antiques. I am in the process of giving away the furniture.

These actions prompted many to decide for me that I was acting "prematurely." That "The doctors don't know everything." They fail to understand that I know how I feel and what I'm going through and that I really need to be able to talk so someone about the dying process without hearing a bunch of nonsense that discounts me, my experience and my feelings. I don't believe in whining and I still laugh a lot, and I appreciate those people around me who can listen without criticism to laugh and love with me.

I salute you for trusting this forum as a place to share your experiences and your concerns. That's what a community is for.


Johnnie Lou
Posted by Pat Hart-Brown (+19) 16 years ago
Scot try a naturopathic doc. they treat with natural things that the body won"t try to reject unlike the posion chemo. i know a man that was healed 8 years ago by there methods,because he couldn't take the chemo. just another thaught.