Living well with bowel cancer

You can find lots of useful information about living with and beyond bowel cancer on our website.

ChantelleMcG

Low white blood cell levels

Hi all,

Hope that you are all keeping well and enjoying the much needed nicer weather.
I just wanted to pop on here to see if anyone had any advice on similar situations.

My dad has stage 4 colon cancer with spread to his liver. His tumour on his bowel has been removed and he now has a permanent stoma bag. He is on folfox chemotherapy and is due to start his fourth round on Monday. He went for his blood tests and they’ve said all results are perfect apart from his white blood cell levels. I think they said they should be 1.4 and his are 1.1 which is too low to start the next treatment on Monday.

Any help on how to help raise these levels (if that’s even possible) would be really helpful or just any helpful hints for chemo.
Overall he is doing so well and being only 52 he is remaining hugely positive that this is something that we are going to be able to fix and deal with. He’s my hero!

Thank you all,
Chantelle

strongsami

Hi @ChantelleMcG

Sorry to hear about your dad's diagnosis but good that the bowel tumor is in the bin now and folfox is excellent chemo which will help fight anything else.

Having low white blood cells is an annoying side effect from chemo and it is quite normal for people to have a little longer break between cycles to wait until these naturally come up again (it happened to me a few times). Officially there's no way to raise them as your body just does it on its own as you recover BUT I know a lot of people talk about LifeMel and Manuka honey which are a bit pricey but apparently very very good products. I know for platelets people use papaya and I think the best advice is getting your dad to eat as healthily as possible and take advantage of the extra few days to build up his strength. I'm sure he'll be right as rain for the next session and good for him for being positive as I strongly believe it's half the battle!

Rocky Balboa strength to both of you
Sxx

ChantelleMcG

Thank you so much for your reply.

You have a lovely way of putting this and of putting my mind at ease. We really are amazed with how well he is dealing with it all and how amazing he is looking despite what’s really going on for him.

Praying for lots of miracles on the liver mets and in the meantime I have ordered some of that LifeMel so we shall see.

Thank you once again! :x::x:

MARKMOLE

@strongsami @ChantelleMcG
I came on hear to day to ask the same question or find an answer. I am almost the same as your Dad, Chantelle. This is my 3rd round of chemo and only 3 treatments into Folfox. I too have had to have my latest session delayed for the same reasons, and wondered if it was due to being too active!? Thanks for the info, I'll look up those products.
It would be interesting to hear any other experiences. I just want to get on with the treatment, so anything that can help would be appreciated.
Wishing your Dad all the best
Mark

Frances Styles

Hi @MARKMOLE, we were advised a healthy diet, protein rich and plenty of vitamin C foods. We've managed to keep my husband's bloods OK, he's had 10 cycles of folfoxiri and Avastin so far. Take good care love Frances :x::x::x:

strongsami

@ChantelleMcG you are so welcome! Let us know how he gets on.
:x::x::x:

@MARKMOLE it is annoying isn't it when you just want to get on with the treatments and they turn you away! It happened to me a few times but I would tell myself it was a good thing as the extra time off would mean my body would be even stronger when I did eventually do it. I say, take advantage of the extra days, rest up, eat as healthily as possible so you're raring to go for the next one! Best of luck to you. :x::x:

Siona

Hello @ChantelleMcG during my treatment, I received white blood cell booster injections (Filgrastim) three days after each cycle that's perhaps something your dad can ask his team. Otherwise all the above are good advices. Take care :x::x:

ChantelleMcG

So sorry for not replying sooner. I don’t always get chance to come on here. Yes thank you so much for this @Siona. Dad received these and he was able to have his next 2 rounds without any problem! 👍🏻 His scan is on Tuesday so now it’s just a nervous waiting game to see if the chemo has worked it’s magic. 🤞🏻 :x::x:

ChantelleMcG

Hi @MARKMOLE how are you getting on? Did you manage to get the booster injections?

Siona

That's really good that your dad was able to have his next rounds @ChantelleMcG
Waiting for scan and scan results is the worst thing. I'll keep everything crossed :x::x:

MARKMOLE

@ChantelleMcG Doing well in myself. Just struggling with the NHS admin and getting my scans, oncology appointments and chemo treatment booked. I think we have sorted the low white blood cell count, just me trying to do too much physical stuff when I should be resting! Your dad is on a path to a better life, just make sure that the plan for monitoring is in place and find out who is responsible for each part of it. I am still battling to get my sorted.

ChantelleMcG

I am so pleased to hear that you are doing well. You sound just like my Dad. He is always busy doing something and rarely sits and rests.
We’re having a similar problem with the admin side. He had his scan on the 1st of June and doesn’t have his oncologist appointment until 7th July. Feels like forever to wait.
Really hoping for good news and hopefully a date for surgery on the liver so we shall see. I still find it hard to believe that he can seem so well and so healthy yet we could hear bad news. I’m praying that his overall spirit and health means it must only be good news.
Hope you manage to get all of your appointments organised and sorted. They never seem in a rush to organise anything which when you’re waiting on news can feel like a lifetime of waiting.

ChantelleMcG

So it’s been a while since I wrote on here as we were celebrating what we thought was great news. Dad had surgery to remove liver mets in October last year. He was put on mop up chemo until January and we were told that he would move to 3 monthly scans to see how he was getting on and if everything had stayed away. He got super ill about one month ago.
After not much help from his gp he took himself to A&E who told him that it wasn’t an emergency and he had wasted their time. His :x:-ray came back to show that he had severe arthritis and that his liver function wasn’t great. His health deteriorated and he’s spent the last week in bed. He was finally referred for a scan and taken into hospital last night. The scan has found that the cancer is back. In 3 places. His lungs, liver and adrenal gland. My heart is broken and I honestly don’t know what the next step is or where we are all going to find out strength from.
Why is this all just so unfair he is the kindest, calmest and loveliest man you could ever wish to meet and only so young. My mum is in pieces and we’re all just trying to stay positive for him. I’m a teacher with 2 young boys myself and any advice on how you keep going in the face of this horrific time would be hugely appreciated. Equally any advice from people that have been through something similar and know what the next step for Dad will be then I would love to hear from you. He will be speaking to the oncologist team today as it was too late last night to get hold of anyone. The doctor in the hospital yesterday said that they would be looking at palliative care “not because that’s what he needs right now but because they can manage the pain best for him.” He’s in agony at the moment and dosed up with lots of pain relief. Thank you, Chantelle :x:

kathyS

@ChantelleMcG so sorry to hear about your Dad’s reoccurrence and hope they can get the pain relief sorted for him. It is very disappointing when the cancer returns and I can say I have been in your Dad’s position of having both liver and lung mets to deal with and was pretty devastated after the lung reoccurrence. I’m currently also on three month scans too. The language (semantics) used like palliative is very problematic for us cancer patients who definitely prefer maintenance as a word to describe the ongoing treatment we receive - I think because palliative sounds like you/we are on our last legs! However people are having ‘palliative’ treatment for many years as the cancer is not eradicated but yet kept under control and quality of life can often be excellent. The challenge for your Dad is to remain hopeful that once the pain is under control that there will be options for him to deal with this next lot of treatment. I would encourage you to stay positive and hopeful for him and fill him with positive vibes about his treatment and future as you have said he is still young! Lots of love :x::x::x::x:

Baxter2

Hi @ChantelleMcG,

I'm so sorry to read about your dad and the metastases. This must be so upsetting for you all amd I cam remember when this happened to me back in Jan 2016. Has the oncologist mentioned palliative chemo too? I've been on fortnightly palliative chemo of Folfiri and Cetuximab continuously since Feb 2016 with a six month break for two surgeries to take place. I'm not sure what treatments your dad has already had but hopefully he's not exhausted all the treatment options? I hope the team can get on top of the pain and he feels more comfortable soon.

Sending you both lots of love,

Karen 🌼🌺🌻🌸🌷

ChantelleMcG

Hearing all of your stories really does help myself and my mum and I can’t thank you enough. We let Dad know about them too and it really cheers his spirits. Well, an oncologist nurse came to see Dad today and said that he will be referred back to his oncologist on an oncology ward and there is talk of more assessments and the possibility of more chemotherapy which is honestly all we could have asked for. It’s a glimmer of hope in what has been a dark few weeks. They are sending the palliative care team in to organise a better pain plan and then hopefully once he gains fitness levels and becomes more mobile they will offer chemo again. So far that’s all that we know. However it is reassuring that they are offering a plan.
They originally took out his liver mets in a huge surgery last September and he had mop up folfox chemo until January so I am slightly worried that he never even made it to his first 3 month scan before it came back to bite him. Fingers crossed he is good for more chemo soon. I will keep you posted and any other advice or ideas then please let me know. You are an amazing group of people and I am so proud of each and every one of you for going through what you are and still being there for others.