Sodium level has dropped after chemo!!! Help!!

Hi, My sister just finished her third round of chemo. Everytime she has chemo her sodium level drops drastically and she ends up in the hospital for several days. Now they want to do the chemo in the hospital from now on. Does anyone know what this is or has anyone had a similar experience? The doctor is saying it is from the cancer but why then does it happen only after chemo? I don't get it. Is there anything she can do to prevent this? I need some positive help. The doctor also told her that she only had five years if that to live so she should go home and get her house in order and do her will. What kind of encouragement can she possibly gain from that comment? Does anyone have a positive testimony here? I am really concerned and frustrated...

Thanks,
Raelyn

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First I want to start by saying that I am just starting this journey, but there are people on here that have shared their stories of only having so long to live and are still here. I have found lots of encouragement on this site. I also wanted to let you know that I will be adding your sister to my daily thoughts and prayers.

Barb

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hey, Raelyn,
time for a deep breath - this is pretty normal for SCLC - let's take a step back - when they put chemo into your sister, they also throw in a big bunch of saline solution (they sometimes call this "hydration") - and are doing it to flush the chemicals out after they are done doing their thing. the bad news is that the hydration will also dilute the sodium content of her blood.

one of the nasty things that happens with SCLC is that one kidney/adrenal gland is usually affected - and it causes something called SIADH (syndrome of inappropriate diuretic hormone) that leaves the patient with low sodium in the blood. throw some extra water into the blood - bingo, the sodium level goes into the ditch.

ok - you're probably getting sick to your stomach right now - another deep breath - there are things they can do - first and foremost - they need to call it what it is. then, whenever they treat your sister, they take it into consideration (like if she goes into the hospital, there is a special saline solution they'd give her - not "normal" saline which would drop her sodium level). my dad's onc had him eat either a bowl of chicken noodle soup or a bowl of potato chips every day - his other choice was a big nasty salt pill (same amount of salt, but the tater chips tasted a lot better). he was also on a stupid antibiotic pill call declomycin that did very little, but had an interesting side effect of raising blood sodium.

now....you know a possible cause and that there are things they can do - it's time to go have a serious chat either with the onc - and get some help for your sister. my dad landed in the hospital twice because of SIADH - once they started acknowledging it and treating it, it got under control and stayed under control...
hope this helps
best wishes to your family
hugs
Pat

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I totally agree with Pat with the potato chip thing, go natural rather than them giving more pills, it is just regular salt that is needed, check with the oncologist about it and get her on a regular pattern that when she has this chemo they will do the chip thingy. I am sure as she mentioned once they know it is going to happen they can be proactive, and start working on a game plan before the sodium level drops.
Good luck.Sandy

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Sounds like she has a impersonel and not too bright occ. I'd get a second opinion and your right to question everything they tell you. Pat said it all.

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Yes, my sodium level drops as a result of chemo, and when it does (I can tell) I heavily salt all food! Does it help? I honestly don't know. Discussed it with my internist and he suggested additional water, as well.?????

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actually, Claire, additional water is exactly what you don't need - that will dilute the blood sodium down some more - which is just what you don't need - even though it will help with flushing the chemo out - surprisingly enough - potato chips and chicken noodle soup each have as much sodium in them as one of the salt pills that are huge and gaggy - you really need a kidney (renal) specialist to be speaking to or the oncologist - SIADH is really not all that well known among the general medical population - trust me, I have had ER docs scampering to their computers to figure out what the crazy lady guarding her daddy was saying to them!!!
many hugs
Pat

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Realyn
Hang in there..I beleive Pat is bang on Gosh I benefited from her comment temendously..Now about your oncs comment!..Did you guys really try to pry this out??It's just not correct to give a time frame on how long we have to live..1st it's unethical,2nd it's not at all accurate,,You Really do not know..Seriously you just don't..So I really am sorry you had to go through that from your Dr..It's not correct..
I had to make a decision on 2nd line Chemo..cancer has returned after a couple of months of chemo..We really expexted this to happen as it typically always does sooner or later,,Well one question I had (since the first chemo knocked the heck out of me at the end ) was what or how long it would be if I did nothing at all for treatment and let the cancer take it's course..
Well we asked and again the Dr said it didn't know for sure ..but based on his experience(Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center NYC) he gave us an answer..
We asked a specific,we got an answer and we moved on..Never ever has anyone suggested that there is a time frame to follow....
So don't buy any time frame and enjoy life ,laugh,cry and have as much fun as you can!!!
Dan

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I agree that the Drs. do not know at this point what amount of time someone has. They are just using some statistics.

Thank you again Pat for some info I did not know. I never had the problem but now I will be ready if I do in the future.

I think I am going to make me a notebook of different posts of info I may need. This site if so much more informative than most of our Drs.

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Raelyn, I know you are not in the same State as your sister as you have posted before. Are you or another family member able now to go to her. I really feel that if it was my sister I would have to go and talk to these doctors and if needed get her a new doctor if I was not pleased with the treatment she was getting. I know you have alot on your plate, but please, if you have not already, go to her, comfort her, love her, and make sure she is getting the best treatment available. I pray that God gives you and your family the strength and you are able to help your sister. Huggs, Karen

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hey Dan -
STOP IT!!!
Let me suggest something - sit back and come up with an answer to the following question - "how much time does your doctor have left?" hmmmm. golly - that's a hard one. unfortunately, we found out the answer for my daddy's onc - she lasted one year longer than my daddy - and heaven gained a most magnificent new angel. that would not have been the answer I guessed - she should have had at least 50 more years to do good. at any rate - your onc's guess on how long you have left is only that - his guess. the Big Guy upstairs is the only one to know for sure.

one interesting thought comes from some researchers - they believe that by the time SCLC is discovered, it's probably 7-10 years old. meaning only one thing - by the time they find it, you are already a long-term survivor of it. the real question here is how to extend that time with high quality of life. managing side effects is a major part. also selection of chemo. for example, there are some chemos that may work good, but may lay you up in the hospital.

one other random thought - here's your job - make the most of each moment you have and make some beautiful memories - SCLC has a real bad time growing in the presence of love and joy and giggles - and worrying about prognoses will only give you wrinkles and make your butt look fat!!!

now get out there and have a potato chip!!!
hugs
Pat

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Hi Realyn
My husband had a problem with his sodium levels. He too was treated at Memorial Sloan Cancer Center. He was put on a 1 liter per day fluid restriction and a salt tablet until his levels returned to normal, which didn't take to long the first time. The second time he was treated with the antibiotic that someone above mentioned along with sodium tablets and also back on the fluid restriction. But definitely fluid restriction is very important. the second time he was hospitalized. What are Your Sister's levels at? also watch for confusion and wanting to sleep a lot.

Hope this helps

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I had major problems with my sodium levels after I had a lobectomy in 2006. I was in and out of hospitals until I started taking salt tablets and restricting fluids. None of the doctors seemed to have a clue what was causing it. Imagine my surprise (and anger) when my cancer returned in 2008 and I was told that low sodium is a common signal of cancer. I have continued the salt tablets to this day. I am in a clinical trial with a new drug and just passed my first anniversary of treatment. I am the longest lasting person in this trial and my cancer has actually slowly shrunk. I feel great. This is just one of the many drugs being tested now. I don't know if this will turn out to be the magic bullet, but it is working for me. Stay positive....they really are working on ways to slay the beast! Peace and love!

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Thanks to all of you for your many helpful posts and suggestions. I have already read several of these posts to my sister over the phone. I am praying and hoping that she will be able to get a laptop and join this forum herself. She is still in the hospital and taking the antibiotic but she complained today of being very weak. She said she couldn't hardly walk and even getting her hand to reach her mouth as she ate was difficult. She also said that things do not taste very good and her sense of smell is heightened (everything smells weird). She is also very cranky (to be expected). As far as going to see her, I am working on that but my situation here at home is very stressful and busy. I have two boys, a home and a husband without a job. He is in the process of flying out weekly for job interviews and I cannot leave my boys alone, they are too young. I had invited my sister to come here before the treatment started so that I could care for her and she turned it down. It is just not feasable to be with her right now. I try to do phone, computer and anything I can do for her on this end. And I pray a lot and tell her I love her. That is the best I can do right now in the situation I am in. Life is tough in many ways but as a Christian I am constantly asking God for strength, direction and the things I need to help and make it through the day. I am asking Him to Heal my sister and to pursue her with His Love. I truly believe that life does not end here. This is only the beginning, we will live forever if we believe and Trust in Christ. I believe in what the bible says, "That we will get new perfect functioning bodies and there will be no more pain, no more tears and no more suffering". (I Corinthians 15: 42, Revelation 21:4) And for all of us this is Truly the most hopeful thing we can think and believe on... Our mission here is to love one another, encourage one another, and help each other live through whatever trial we are going through. You are all doing that for me and it is beautiful. Even through your pain and suffering you are ministering and helping. What a awesome thing to see. This thing that looks so devastating and hard is causing something new and beautiful inside. Thank you again for being in my corner and for caring about my sister who you have never even met. I truly cherish your posts!!!

Bless You,
Raelyn

PS. Sorry, for those of you who think of me as being too preachy, if only you knew the depth of Love that God has for you... Everyone of you He loves dearly...

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Thanks, Patty. I suspected extra water was not the answer.

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Sodium problem is normal for all of us with sclc..whatever stage..extensive or limited. It is time to find a better Dr. One who will fight to save your sister and keep her on her feet so to speak. Any Dr. these days that gives you a life expectancy are idiots. They tend to want to play GOD. for only God knows when you will be called home and it may very well be for something other than cancer. I was in the hospital several times during my first 7 months of treatment don't let that alarm you. I found it was a lot better for my family when I was in hospital instead of at home suffering and them suffering with me.
Robin

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Thanks Robin,

Robin is my sister's name also. I appreciate your support. I will forward all this wonderful information to my sister. She is now at home after being in the hospital for several days.

Raelyn

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