Bowel cancer treatment and side effects

Applejack

Exhausted post-treatment

Anyone else struggled to cope post-treatment? I finished my four cycles of Capox two weeks ago. I worked for the last three months of treatment and am still working now. I feel permanently exhausted and quite down. Struggling to cope with work - just don't feel motivated. I obviously look like I am coping well as people have stopped making any allowances for me rather than realising I still feel sick. It doesn't help I still have post treatment diarrhoea and I'm pretty sure I am quite badly anaemic. For those that have finished their chemo when did you feel back to normal? Any recommendations to get over this stage?

charleyb

Hi @Applejack my husband finished 10 months of intensive treatment and surgery in April. Up to this point he had carried on working, only taking time off for the lung and bowel surgery, he actually found he coped well with chemo. However the week after he finished, his energy levels and general wellness just plummeted. We had an end of chemo scan and both were convinced the cancer was back. He had no energy, a lack of appetite, lost weight, and exhausted. But the scan was clear, and we were reassured that his body was shattered and that it is very common following all the treatment to feel this rubbish. It probably took about a month or so for him to feel well again, and probably a good two months till he was back in the gym and back to peak fitness. Things he did, take multivits, rest a lot (he went back to sleeping in afternoon when he could) and he was back in the gym full time. Good luck and hope you feel better soon :x::x::x:

Lizalou

Hi @Applejack

I think it is surprisingly common to feel as you do. I was miserable after I had been signed off by the oncologist. I felt more ill than while I was on chemo (obviously the chemo had built up in my body). I missed the regular reassurance from the nurses. Everyone, myself included, expected me to be back to normal, but I felt worse than ever.I also finally had time for things to sink in.

I made a list of all my niggles and all my woes, and started to tackle them. I saw my GP for reassurance, I managed to get a few counselling sessions, I started trying to get fitter by walking more etc.

But the main thing is patience. You have done so well with your treatment and with continuing to work, but you must be kind to yourself. Could you ask for sick leave for a little while? Or a relaxing holiday? Or just relax at home, instead of trying to make up for lost time!

Best wishes :x::x:

Seashells

Hi @Applejack

I finished my chemo (Folfox) almost three weeks ago and I feel exhausted too. My chemo nurse did warn me that many people find the final cycle the most difficult. She said it is partly the cumulative effect of chemo but mostly the psychological impact. While on chemo you concentrate on recovering from one cycle so you are prepared for the next - in my case, feeling rough the first week then aiming to be as well as possible for the following weeks blood test and treatment. Without that next date to focus on I think we allow ourselves to relax but that seems to send a message telling our body it can now concentrate on repairing all the damage so our energy is still sapped, perhaps even more because we're not driven by the stress of preparing for the next onslaught of chemo.

I used to suffer debilitating migraines and took part in some trials. The team running them told me that the most common time for a migraine is the weekend because people manage to cope with stress during the working week but as soon as they can allow themselves to relax a bit the body just says "enough" and develops a symptom to force you to rest.

I think that the first few weeks after chemo are very similar. We look forward to the end of treatment with high expectations and start planning to do things but our body is saying, "hold on a minute - I need to recover" so we struggle.

As @charleyb says there is also the unknown to cope with. We have an end of treatment scan then have to wait for results to find out if all that treatment worked. This really does mess with your head.

I think @Lizalou has the solution - make a list of all the things bothering you and then work through them one by one. If you think you may be anaemic then perhaps that is the first thing to tackle - ask your GP to arrange a blood test. If you are correct then sorting it out should improve how you are feeling. You could also be dehydrated if you are still suffering from diarrhoea. Maybe try a some re-hydration drinks and loperimide?

Take care and I hope we both feel a bit more energetic very soon :x::x:

Applejack

Thanks @charleyb, @Lizalou and @Seashells. Good to know I am not alone in this at least. I guess it mainly is my body attempting to repair itself after the chemo. I may look at trying to schedule some time off - pretty full on here as I have two young children in addition to work so don't really get to rest at the weekend either. I'll do as @Lizalou says and attempt to make a list and work through it. I'm still on loperemide and lomaxil for the diarrhoea but think the latest bout might have been food poisoning rather than chemo related so hopefully can start to taper down again. I will see my gp and ask about iron tablets - my Hb levels were 8 on last bloods so pretty low.

DianeS

Hi @Applejack it’s been a while since my chemo finished but reading your post was exactly how I felt, and I wasn’t prepared for it. It really is common. The feeling of being down, in my opinion, was the loss of security of being under hospital care, it just seems to hit you with a bang. The exhaustion is a slow recovery, your body has been through terrible stress, and so has your mind. Just try to eat well, exercise in the fresh air and sleep when you can. I still sometimes have odd naps, and that’s two years later. Be kind to yourself, love D :x::x::x::x::x: