March 14, 2011

The latest Gemzar side effects

I have been steadily feeling better and better since last week's blood transfusion. However, I did notice some additional side effects from the Gemzar which lead me to think this chemo is not quite as tolerable as I hoped.

RASH: Dr G told me to expect a rash on my shins, which showed up briefly as a few large, red spots which were tender to the touch. I had three on my left shin, two on my right. They looked just like spider bites and went away of their own accord over a couple of days.

MOUTH SORES: I developed one sore on the side of my tongue which went away within 24 hours. Now I have two; one on the side of my tongue, but in the back where I can't see it although I can feel it, and the other on the tip of the underside of my tongue. That one is tiny, white, and also tender. I've been gargling with salt water to prevent any infection. So far these are no worse than annoying, and I haven't needed my Magic Mouthwash (xylocaine viscous solution, Zovirax®(alcohol-free), and Maalox®, or Mylanta®).

FATIGUE: This is the kicker. Even after the blood transfusion, I tire easily. Most afternoons I hit the wall around 1 PM and literally collapse on the sofa. Even if I don't sleep, I can't move for an hour or so. If I do nap in the afternoon, then I have trouble sleeping at night. I am trying to do my errands etc. each day in the morning so that I can be home by lunchtime and crash.

This morning I went to Costco, barely made it through the front door with the groceries, shoveled some food into my mouth while standing in front of the refrigerator, and staggered to the couch. I didn't sleep but zoned out quietly with Bobka the dog for an hour or so, then felt refreshed enough to bake an apple pie for Pi Day -- 3.14. (Get it?)

This is my week off chemo and I hope to recover enough to have treatment again next Monday.


  1. I have my own theory about "tolerable". If my oncologist says that a drug is tolerated quite well then usually that means that in fact I will experience side-effects. I think my body is in revolt against chemo. We seem to spend a lot of time playing with my doses because I don't seem to be able to take the "recommended" dosage now at all. I have the same issue with fatigue right now, and like you, I just need that stillness for about an hour before I can do anything. It's not really a sleepy tired, but just a very heavy feeling that can only be resolved by a good lie down. My little dog has come to know this as "snuggle time", and lies quietly with me, with his head on the pillow, and his cute little doggy snoring. Such good company.

  2. Anonymous12:11 PM

    Just saw this post. I have found that fatigue with combo of Gemzar and Cisplatin. Sending positive energy to all.

  3. Timothy P.9:50 PM

    My wife begins gemzar tomorrow with carboplatin. Last weeks carbo and taxol side effects lasted all week. God bless all of you

  4. Anonymous3:07 PM

    I start Gemzar and Abraxane next tues. I am stage four mestatic breast cancer. This is my second round of chemo.first round 2011,had left side mascotomy and infeb this year found in other breast,overies,utrus and cervix. had sugury for female organs and know have to do chemo for tumors in right breast.Also in bone,bone marrow and liver,stomach,knees,base of nck ect. God you all and lets keep fighting.