Need advice for friend on aggressive chemo, no appetite not wanting to drink fluids.
I was asked a month ago if I could help take care of a friend who is having very aggressive chemo. She has lung and spinal cancer and was told after her first round of chemo she could go for more aggressive chemo or get her things in order. Three weeks ago she became very lethargic, nauseous, sever pain in her back and short of breath. Due to all of this she was barely able to move. When she went to the dr her red blood count was extremely low every thing else was excellent. She had a transfusion and was told she would begin to feel better in 24 hours. That has not been the case.
She is very stubborn 62 yr old female and does not tell me what her drs say. She has very little improvement since the transfusion. She can walk a little better but I noticed she is not drinking as much as she needs and is not eating well at all. Last night she started vomiting and when I call or go over to check on her she is always sleepy. She has started taking her pain meds as directed so that may be part of her problem. I have called her son who is currently working out of state and he is trying to get leave from work to come home and help get her home health care.
Now since I have given a little bit of back ground my question is. What do I need to look for before she gets so bad to know if she needs to go to the hospital? Like I mentioned above she does not tell me she is barely eating or drinking I have started to count food and water bottles to see. Also is there anything that can help with her nausea and vomiting? She is taking prilosec and some other scripts from the dr to help but they are not and since she will not let me go in with her (trust me I have really, really tried) I don't know what she or her dr are saying. My worry is she will get to the point she cant get around or worse. I am looking of any advice to help prevent that. I am way out of my element here but I will force her to the hospital if I have to. Her son should be here within the week but until then all advice is appreciated.
I'm sorry that no one has answered your question yet. I don't usually frequent this forum, but since I've been through chemotherapy myself, I occasionally stop by.
What do you look for before taking her to the hospital? The main thing is to watch for fevers (anything over 101*). This is a sign of infection, which isn't a good thing to have, especially when you hardly have an immune system left.
Two drugs that I took for nausea are Emend and Zofran. I think overall they did a pretty good job, but I think there are other drugs available if those don't work.
I was told to eat a high calorie, high protein diet while on chemo. The extra calories because doctors know that the appetite is usually diminished. The extra protein because this is the main building block for rebuilding stem cells in the bone marrow. Chemotherapy has wiped out most of those stem cells and her body needs to make more. There will probably be certain foods she can't stand (even the smells can make one feel sick). Eating small meals more often sometimes helps. Also, many patients turn to nutritional protein shakes when they struggle to get adequate nutrition.
Hopefully this information will be able to still help you, but if not maybe other caregivers will find value in it.
Thank you for your answer. After I posted this I discovered during a blood test that her Dr had been trying to call her all week because she was so low on fluids they were worried about her kidneys failing. The next week her white count was super low (32) and she was taking shots to help with that. During the time of the shots when she was supposed to take her third one (out of five) I took her to the emergency room because she was vomiting and had pain in her back. The ER Dr called her oncologist because he couldn't find out why she was sick and her Dr just had her taken off the shots.
That next week I called her to make sure she was up for her Dr appointment and she didn't answer so I rushed over to her house only to find her in a deep sleep. She woke up and we went to the Dr where he read her scan results. Her lung cancer has grown she also has adrenal cancer (she told no one of this) but it had shrank but the mass in her tail bone has spread to her hip. She was put in the hospital where it was found out she is not getting enough oxygen.
They are just making her comfortable now as there is nothing more the Dr can do for her.
I'm so sorry to hear this. My condolences to you and her family. It sounds like it's a good thing that she was admitted to the hospital where they can monitor her 24/7 and keep her comfortable. I hope her son is able to come and be by her side soon.
I have to say that it is incredibly admirable that you stepped up to the plate to help care for your friend. I know that being a caregiver can be incredibly stressful.
Thank you for your condolences, she passed the day after my last post. I just got back on due to helping her family and trying to get my own life situated. We had her memorial dinner yesterday and did a recipe swap in her honour. She loved to cook and collected recipes and had a restaurant several years ago so I think she would have liked it. Her family was able to spend the last weeks with her.
It may have been stressful but I believe you get back what you give out and I hope that if I am ever in that position someone will help me :). God bless the people fighting cancer, that have lost their lives to cancer and have survived cancer. Best wishes, Sissie
I would like to say that it was no problem helping her I was blessed to be a part of her life for the time she was here. She put up a good fight but is now pain free. I hope you are doing well with your fight and Thank you for your response. I have just managed to get back on here after her passing I tried to help her family sort things out and then had to deal with my own life so I am sorry my response was so long in coming. Best wishes to you, Sissie
I'm so sorry to hear this. All my sympathies to you and her family. Usually such patients do not respond to chemotherapy, and if they do, it is for a short time. As her age was 62, she was too old to respond to dose. sorry to hear this
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