Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Abraxane Side Effects

I think I mentioned in a blog post a couple of days ago that one of the side effects I am experiencing is stomach cramping. When you read the list of potential side effects, they say "stomach upset" or "stomach pain", but in truth, it isn't painful. It just feels like a tightening or spasming of the tummy muscles. It's not even uncomfortable. Just weird. [WARNING: don't read the next sentence if you're squeamish.] And, I have some diarrhea and/or soft stools.

I should also say that I think I've lost a few pounds since starting Abraxane - maybe 4-6 pounds or so. My appetite is about the same, so either my body is using a lot more energy to whisk away the dead cancer cells or my body isn't absorbing the food I eat as well as it should. It's the latter, probably. I haven't minded the weight loss because I felt at least 15 pounds or more over my ideal weight. I'm about 11 or 12 pounds less than I was in June. Partly because of the recent weight loss due to Abraxane, but also because I think I've lost some fluids from the skin wound - I have less lymphedema than I did in the summer. Dietary changes have also contributed, like cutting out white flour recently and dairy products and I'm really trying to decrease my sugar input. I also haven't been drinking as much beer since summer. If I lose more than 5 pounds, I'll get worried. But losing another 5 puts me at the ideal weight for my height and bone frame.

So, I told my colleague, S., about my stomach cramping symptoms and wondered why. S. knows how to get into the medical literature that reports actual studies.

He told me this morning that it turns out that Abraxane can destroy the inner lining of your stomach. He suggested that I take Probiotics to help with digestion and to increase the good bacteria in the stomach. And, maybe occasionally take Mylanta or something like it.

I then mentioned it to a friend and colleague (K.) at lunch today and she suggested a supplement called "GI-Encap", which repairs the lining of the stomach. She also mentioned something called HMF-Intensive, which is a probiotic.

So, I will be adding those two to my supplement repertoire. At the moment, I take 1) CoQ-10 (helps your cells work more efficiently for more energy; may also have anticancer effects), 2) Vitamin D-3 (I had low Vitamin D levels and it also has anticancer properties), 3) turmeric (anticancer properties), 4) Chinese herbs (a five-mushroom blend (anticancer), Ji Xue for building blood, Rehmannia and Scrophularia also for building blood (I think), Shen Ling Bai Zhu Pian (to help my body digest the Rehmannia and for digestion issues generally)), 5) melatonin (anticancer properties), plus a 6) Chinese herb for sleep. I also picked up 7) Zong Gan LIng at the co-opera yesterday for "advanced colds". The latter helps with symptoms and also helps to get over your cold more quickly. I started taking it yesterday and I have to report that it really does help relieve cold symptoms, but without leaving my mouth dry from the antihistamines in western cold medicines or making me feel zonked out or tired. I feel normal and there's less stuffy/runny nose and post-nasal drip to worry about. I also think that my cold is already a lot better.

Having cancer isn't cheap. That's where a lot of any "disposable" income I might have goes to. I'm not complaining, mind you, because in general, I have been feeling fairly well lately, with good energy, no pain, etc. But thank goodness for good health insurance and for a full time job.


MisAnthropology said...

And thank goodness for a brain that can keep track of and sort all that information out. Being a damn clever broad is a decided asset.

Dee said...

Mary, I must admit to having to look at some of the labels before writing that post . . . and when you introduce things one at a time, it becomes old hat and easier to remember.