View Full Version : side effects of chemo?

07-18-2006, 12:34 PM
My doctor called me last night and told me that he thought I needed to have chemo. I seem to be having a really bad flare that doesn't seem to respond to any meds. He said that he would give me a week to decide what I wanted to do. He said that I could have it by I.V. once a week or 4 pills a week. He explained to me that it was the same chemo that they use on people that have lymphoma or leukemia. I asked him if I would lose my hair he said there was a 50/50 chance. I was thinking that the pills wouldn't be as strong as the I.V.
I would give anything a try right now. I feel like I am just existing not living. If I go grocery shopping the next day I am totally wiped out because of that. When I do laundry the rest of my day I can't do anything because I'm so tired. My sister has made meals and she has done my dishes, laundry, given my kids there baths you name it. My husband has a lot on his plate too.
I asked my son today, what if mom took some medicine to help her get better, but for a while I might feel sick to my stomach, and I may lose some hair what do you think? He told me that he would love me with or without hair. I started crying and I told him that was the best thing anyone has ever told me....He's my seven year old little man.
If anyone has any previous experience with chemo drugs please respond.

07-18-2006, 01:44 PM
Is it cytoxan?? If it is, I was told the pills cause horrible problems with your stomach and bladder and such...

07-18-2006, 03:27 PM
I'm not sure, all I can remember is that it started with an "R". I'm going in Monday but I am going to call before then so I can do some research. As soon as I find out I'll write back.

07-18-2006, 03:47 PM
I think I remember the name. It' Rituxan???? I think???? Sounds right?!?!?!

07-24-2006, 04:57 AM
I think that I may have posted the following article about Rituxan elsewhere on this site...I'm not sure (brain fog). In any case, here it is again...

"Cancer drug shows promise against lupus
A drug now used to treat a type of cancer appears to be very effective at treating lupus, with just one injection easing symptoms in several patients for a year or more. The results of the clinical trial involving 17 patients are in the August issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism.

The finding has its roots in a hypothesis put forth by the team of physicians at the University of Rochester Medical Center who did the study. They suspected that because lupus involves the same immune cells as lymphoma, a drug successful at treating lymphoma might also help lupus patients. So doctors tested the medication rituximab, approved in 1997 to treat lymphoma, in patients with the chronic inflammatory disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks a person's own tissues.

The results bear out the hypothesis. Eleven of the 17 patients had a significant drop in immune cells known as B cells, and the health of those patients improved significantly, an improvement that was evident for the 12 months that the study lasted. Several were able to reduce or go off their traditional lupus medications.

"In most patients, their lupus improved significantly," says rheumatologist R. John Looney, M.D., who led the study. "Since lupus differs a great deal from person to person, the ways that patients improved varied. Some had less joint pain; some had fewer skin rashes. But everyone who had fewer B cells had significantly improved health.

"These patients were treated for a very brief period of time, and some of them are still doing just great, several years later."

The benefit wasn't as marked for everyone, including patients who did not receive the full dose of the medicine in the "dose-escalation" study, as well as African-American patients. Scientists are investigating the differences.

Unlike many autoimmune diseases that target a specific system or organ, lupus can affect a person's joints, skin, blood, kidneys, and even organs like the lungs and brain. Fatigue, arthritic joints, and infections are among the most common symptoms. Many patients live a normal life while taking medicine and working with a doctor to keep tabs on the disease, perhaps feeling some joint pain or having a rash occasionally, while others are debilitated by the illness and have severe infections or organ failure. Women are about 10 times as likely as men to be diagnosed with lupus. Doctors estimate that anywhere from about half a million to 1.5 million people in the United States have the disease.

"Some patients don't need much treatment, while others need all you can offer and more," says rheumatologist Ignacio Sanz, M.D., an author of the paper and a lupus expert.

Besides the drug's success in treating the disease, scientists noted the lack of significant side effects with rituximab. Some patients had a reaction to the infusion of the medicine, but in the study, it occurred far less often than it does with cancer patients taking the drug.

Current lupus treatments, in contrast, are laden with severe side effects. The anti-inflammatory drugs used to dampen the immune system leave patients vulnerable to infection, while steroids at high levels can cause an array of problems, everything from thinning bones, weight gain, weak muscles, and heart disease to glaucoma and depression.

The difference in side effects is a result of the precision, or lack thereof, of the medicines. Current lupus treatments affect nearly all the cells of the body, including healthy and vital cells. In contrast, rituximab targets only B cells and is aimed at lowering their numbers. That's why the drug is available to lymphoma patients: Most have too many B cells, which make antibodies that flag down and kill microbes and other invaders in the body.

Lupus is also a problem with B cells: They're found in the wrong proportion in the body's blood and tissue, and they're often misguided, making too many antibodies that mistakenly attack the body itself. The infighting clogs up the body with cellular debris, causing a variety of symptoms; then when the immune system detects the problem, it tries to ease up, leaving the patient open to infection.

"Lupus patients tend to have fewer B cells than normal, but their B cells are hyperactive and function in a very abnormal way," says Sanz. "The immune system is hyperactive but disorganized; it's over-reacting to some things but not enough to other things."

It was Looney's idea to target B cells to treat lupus. A great deal lot of traditional research had pointed to other immune cells known as T cells as the major culprit. But Looney and his team uncovered a more complicated process than had been imagined, where cooperation between B and T cells is at the core of the disease. The success with rituximab opens up a whole new vista targeting B cells, reducing their numbers, and ridding the body of errant B cells for treating the disease.

The Rochester team is now helping to design a much larger study of patients that may begin within the next year or so at multiple sites around the country, including Rochester.

"Our basic knowledge of lupus has been increasing exponentially during the past few years, but there have been few new treatments," says Sanz, who heads the University's NIH-funded Autoimmunity Center of Excellence, where lupus is one of three diseases studied by two dozen researchers. "Prognosis has improved because of better support therapies like blood pressure control, anti-cholesterol drugs, dialysis and antibiotics, but this is the first really new and targeted therapy to come along in a long time."


Looney, Sanz, and rheumatologist Jennifer Anolik, M.D., Ph.D., run the University's lupus clinic at Strong Memorial Hospital, where about 800 patients who have symptoms of lupus are seen regularly. The clinic is one of 26 centers in the nation that make up the Lupus Clinical Trials Consortium, where patients have access to the latest experimental treatments.

The medication for the study was supplied by Genentech, Biogen Idec, and Roche, which make and market Rituxan, the brand name for rituximab. The study was also funded in part by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and the Lupus Foundation of America."


07-24-2006, 01:04 PM
I had rituxan in Feburary with cytoxan. The rituxan will not cause you to get sick to your stomach or loose your hair. It's considered a biotherapy rather than a chemotherapy. But it is still treated and handled as a chemo drug. I received it and I also give it to patients. And yes you are right it is given to lymphoma patients. But if you do receive cytoxan then you may loose your hair( I never lost all of it- but did a lot of shedding :) . But if it is rituxan there are very few side effects. Rituxan only comes in IV form. So if he is talking about pills then it is probably cytoxan. Cytoxan has a high incidence of Hemorrhagic cystitis (bleeding of the bladder) and while on cytoxan and 2 days afterwards you really need to drink lots of fluids and get rid of the cytoxan from the bladder. You have more of a chance with receiving the pills of developing Hemorrhagic cystitis because you are taking it more often and people tend to decrease with drinking. I had it by IV and drank lots of fluids and did not develop Hemorrhagic cystitis. So whatever you choose good luck with feeling better soon!!! ~Butterfly

07-25-2006, 03:37 PM
I went to the doctor today and the chemo drug is methotrexate. I found alot of reading on this. I hope this works. Thanks everyone for the responses.

07-30-2006, 07:43 PM
This is the 2nd day on the chemo and I'm feeling some nausea that is bad in the morning and then it comes and goes through out the day. I am still so tired Just moving from room to room is a chore. Thank you brown-eyed girl for the encouraging email I really do appreciate that. I'll write back soon.

07-31-2006, 02:30 PM
My daughter was on Methotrexate and, like you, it caused her nausea and extreme fatigue. I believe that she only had to take it once/wk. Are you taking it daily?
On the days that she took her Methotrexate, we all knew that she would be unable to do ANYTHING that day and she called it her "Methotrexate Day". This meant that we were not to disturb her (except to bring her what food she could eat or to check to see if she needed anything) and that she was going to spend the day in bed. Her "Methotrexate Days" became her movie days where I would rent 4-5 movies for her and just let her watch movies and rest.
If you are taking it once/wk, I would suggest that you do it on a day where you can spend the day resting and nothing is expected of you.
In time, you will find that the Methotrexate is helping you. Just give it time! Remember, we all understand what you are going through and we are here for you!
Peace and Blessings

07-31-2006, 03:08 PM
I am taking 4 pills all at one time, once a week. I have found that I have been having the worst heartburn, I have to take reflux meds anyway and now I have been chewing tums like their candy. I read the precautions that they give you at the pharmacy and it doesn't say anything about heartburn. I just wonder if it is a symptom. The heartburn started when I began the chemo.

08-01-2006, 12:36 AM
Yes, my daughter also experienced severe heartburn while taking Methotrexate. Actually, some of the common side effects from methotrexate include diarrhea, lung infections, headache, nausea, heartburn, rash and changes in liver enzymes.


08-01-2006, 07:18 AM
Thanks for the reply. I thought that it must be because of the med. but I didn't know anyone that has taken the same Rx before. If it weren't for hero's like your daughter we would not be having this conversation right now. I pray that God will bring you peace and everlasting joy. Thanks for this web site, it is actually one thing that I look forward to everyday.

08-01-2006, 12:48 PM
Hope you start to feel better soon pinkjmf :lol:

09-02-2006, 04:13 PM
Pinkjmf- Hang in there!! :wink: I have had Rituxan, and I am currently taking Methotrexate-4 tabs once a week. For the first month or so, about the evening after, I would feel a little off, tired and sometimes nausea, but not to bad. I have lost much hair over the last few years, but not to metho-I still shed quite a bit, but I still have my hair, only about 50%less.
I have been on Metho now for about 7months now. Everything is going very well. I also am tapering my pred. Currently, I am down to 12.5mg and will decrease again in 1 week. A month ago I stopped eating all sweets-see my post in symptoms....My joints are smiling!!! :D
Good luck, if you do get symptoms from the metho, they may go away when you get used to it.
Keep your chin up, keep smiling!
kimb 8)

09-05-2006, 01:48 PM
Pinkjmf :lol:
Thank You so much for your very kind thoughts and words

Peace and Blessings