First time Chemo Question

My wife is going to Chemo for the first time on Monday. We just found out (the doctor never told her) that the Chemo will last 5 hours (she is going to be there at 10:30AM) and that our doctor would not be able to see her until after it is over.
She will be having CARBOPLATIN and TAXAL infusions.

Question: Is a 5 hour Chemo normal? It sounds like excess time. Should they be checking whether or not the chemicals are right for her before using them (by blood tests or whatever they do?)

For you people who had this, please let us know as my wife is scared stiff right now. She is 78 years old.

Thanks for any advice you can provide us.

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5 hours infusinons is what I had of the carbo and taxal. I did ask for something to help me sleep through it and was given Adivan. And I don't know about blood tests to know if it was the right chemo or not. I didn't find out about the targeted treatment until it was too late. They can take a biopsy of the cancer and send in it to find out what chemo would be effective.

Hold tight to one another and know that we are all keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.


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Hi So sorry about what you are going thru. Had a sister drug called cisplatnim (sp check). They told me 5 hours and turned out to be 8. Not unusual. Bring lunch, great book, and talk to the people around you. They are your best inspiration. Know that you are not alone. My best K

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I'm so sorry you and your wife are going through this. My dad had that same treatment and yes 5 hours is the normal treatment time, but it is a good thing, speed of the drip of chemo should not be rushed! The caregivers giving the chemo are versed in all chemo treatments and are highly capable of dealing with any issues your wife may have. They will follow the doctors orders and know what to watch for. My dad never had any problems with the actual chemo admistering (of course he suffered from some side effects post chemo) I hope you'll be able to stay and keep her company, once in awhile my dad would take ativan to calm him if he was a little too worried... Good luck!

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this is a great question!
here's the scoop
for about the first hour, they will push normal saline solution (it's salt water) to get her hydrated. In that bag, there will also be a shot of stuff to keep her from getting nauseous and probably another shot of different stuff (usually decadron, which is a steroid) to make her blood veins happy with the chemo.

after this is done, they'll hang the bag of the actual chemo plus another bag of the salt water. they have to drip it in pretty slow so it won't hurt her blood vessels.

then, when this is done, they'll hang another bag or two of the salt water. the purpose of this is to keep the chemo moving and to flush it out of her system. chemo gets in there and does its thing, and then you want to wash it out - that's what the last bag or two of salt water is for.

for some chemos, there is also benadryl put in, so if that's the case, she'll probably sleep.

she'll be wanting to carry water or some other liquids with her to drink - this is real important. snacks are good also - but nothing really smelly like tuna fish. she's gonna get bored (as are you) so carry stuff to keep busy. have her wear comfy clothes, like sweats. she'll probably get chilly, so warm clothes are important.

one last thing - chemo isn't near as scary as the thought of chemo - she'll do just fine!!!! and so will you.

many hugs

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Just like Kamy I started out with cisplatinum and while it was suppossed to be an 8 hour treatment it turned out to 9. I then went over to carboplatinum and the side effects were a little easier. No one can tell you how another will respond with the exception of fatigue. Your wife will feel like she just ran a marathin backwards so please have some patience in that regard. I wish her the best of luck and will say a prayer for her.


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Just saw your profile and you are a neighbor- you live in Rockaway-- I live in Hawthorne


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Actually, first they do blood tests before starting the chemo and this could take anywhere from 1/2 hour to an hour. Then the rest is what the others are telling you here. Most treatments centers provide water or drinks and even sandwiches. I would bring a book or plan to sleep, as the nurses watch over you. They are probably going by protocol for her type of cancer, a blood test cannot tell what tx would work best only an assay test done on a biopsy can. This would have to be done prior to starting and chemo. Just go along and see how she does, if it's not working, they will stop it and try something else. Good luck to you both.
Take care, JC

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Thanks so much for your comments. My wife is reading them now and their are tears flowing down her cheeks (as there are tears flowing down my cheeks).

You are all so wonderful to care.

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I had carboplatin and taxal last year and yes if was about 5 hours, with pre meds and fluids. I always see my dr before chemo and get blood work done before also. I guess all drs are different, I can only tell you how it was for me. The chemo worked and everything shrunk almost undetectable. This is a great website, full of information.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and you wife.

Hugs coming your way.


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That is a normal time for infusion of those two drugs along with premeds and fluids. Take something to read with you. My mom took crossword puzzles or read when she had the long infusions.


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Good luck to your wife (and you)! My mom had a different type of chemo Carbo and Gemzar, but I remember some lenghty sessions. I agree with the other comments about bringing some reading or something to do.

I am not sure what her set up will be, but my mom went to a chemo center that had nice cushy lounge chairs set up so you could watch TV (although she usually ended up chatting with the people in the chairs near her. It can get very social, which is nice!) My mom's place also had beds and private nooks, so if she is tired, that might be an option, although my mom fell asleep in the chairs plenty of times! hehe

I remember how scared we were the first time too. It's all very overwhelming. Tell her to think positive though.

My brother and I took a chemo class beforehand and we took notes about what to expect, side effects, tricks to try to lessen side effects etc. If you would like the notes, you can message or add me, and I will send them. Good luck!

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I just finished my sixth round of chemo (carbo, tax and avast). Each one of my sessions went 4 1/2 to 5 hours. The advice and experiences being shared are pretty much right on the money. My major side-effect was neuropathy (numbess, nerve issues, in my hands and feet). Heating pads helped alot. Foot rubs helped but as soon as the rubbing stopped the coldness is right there. Sorry you had to fine this site but on the positive side there are a lot of great and brave people that read and post here.

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It is lengthy but you usually sit in a recliner and can watch TV or exchange war stories with the other people there.

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I also had the 5 hours + taxol/carboplatin. First round of chemo i did not have blood work since i had never received chemo before. But,every time thereafter i had blood work saw the doctor then to chemo room. The blood work lets the onc know how much chemo your body can handle. My mass was 5.4 x 3.9 cm. after 2 rounds of chemo (3 weeks apart) mass was 1.9 x 1.0 cm.So it works!!!! Sad note for your wife. I lost my hair 12 days after first round of chemo. But good news is i will not lose my life:))))))))

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My wife is trying to find out how she can get a wig before chemo.

Is this covered by any insurance?

Does Medicare cover it?

thanks for any assistance and ideas regarding the wig.

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Gatnus, surprised to see your post! Didn't know that your wife had decided to move ahead with treatment. Glad that she did, but hoping that it was HER decision. And that things have improved with your son.
Everything sounds normal as others have pointed out. Wanted to add that they do bloodwork on arrival, and usually don't order or mix the chemo drugs until after results have been reviewed. So depending on how busy lab and pharmacy are, this can prolong the time frame. Another thing to remember is that with all of the IV fluids, she will be makng frequent trips to the bathroom!
Praying that things go well.

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Thanks for your wishes.

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Gatnus, yes, she can certainly get a wig before she needs it! The American Cancer Society often provides them for free, but selection may be limited. Have the doctor write it on a prescription form and say for "Chemo-induced alopecia" and insurance will reimburse at least part of it.

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Hi there,

I am a clinical trials coordinator in an oncology clinic. If this is her first chemo then it's ok that the doc is seeing her afterwards, but for the future the doc should see her before chemo to approve treatment for that day.

I have patients on the same regimen your wife is on but with Avastin. What stage is your wife's cancer? Avastin with carbo and taxol is approved for locally advanced, unresectable, metastatic, or recurrent non small cell lung cancer. Your wife may be eligible for a clinical trial that gives the Avastin for free - it is sponsored by the drug company Lilly. Does your wife's oncologist participate in clinical trials?

Hope that helps. Best of luck to both of you!

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my aunt is 72, smoker with st 4 nsclc with mets to upper leg. just started radiation (5 days) and chemo (1 day 2hrs) several blood tests before right meds were decided on. cant remember what she's on, but 3 drugs and they keep her awake and talking much! that's okay by me! i pray you and your wife adjust well...

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