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LIFE AFTER LYMPHOMA CANCER / LIVING WITH NEUROPATHY

Updated on April 28, 2011

NEUROPATHY

For some reason, a previous Hub on CIPN { Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy} seemed to pass quite a few regular readers by and at the same time, others who did read it have asked for more details. Hence this Hub, my first since being declared to be in full remission from the T-Cell Cancer, discovered when I had an emergency bowel operation last July and subsequently treated by CHOP Chemotherapy from August 2010 to January 2011.Side effects of Chemotherapy have featured strongly on the 77 or so Hubs that followed the progress of my treatment, amongst them Neuropathy.

CIPN, {see above} , describes damage to the peripheral nervous system from chemotheraputic agents that are neurotoxic. The agents concerned fall into 3 classes as follows: TAXANE , VINCA ALKALOID AND platinum compounds. Put simply, all three cause mild to moderate numbness of of hands and feet as well as tingling as I have often referred to in my own case during treatment by CHOP.. Other symptoms can be burning sensations in hands and feet which are said to increase with increased doses, or cumulative doses. In my case the tingling certainly increased with treatment but subsided when treatments ended in January. However, this has been replaced by weakness in my hands and pain at times in my fingers, palms and wrists. For example, I cannot now release a tightly screwed jar. Others with more severe symptoms can experience much worse failings in hand dexterity and there is a timed test for this involving the slotting of pegs into allotted spaces on a board. Thankfully. I am not at that level currently.

There is no valid treatment for CIPN but the Hospital team state most symptoms will subside in time, though 12 /18 months may elapse or even years in some cases.Very severe CIPN may never go away. As such treatments are to deal with the symptoms themselves and not the cause. These can involve, Steroids for the short term, numbing creams or patches, anti-depressant medicines and for severe cases, opiods or narcotics. I am pleased to say I can get along without any of the above at this time.

Other treatments to relieve the neurophatic pain include electrical nerve stimulation, occupational, physical and relaxation therapies, acupuncture and some I have no idea of including guided imagery, distraction, and biofeedback!

DEALING WITH IT MYSELF.

Dealing with CIPN directly differs from case to case but there are guidelines available for general information and assistance, I list some here: Avoid temperatures that make it feel worse, eg hot/ cold. My symptoms do not like cold! Do not drink alcohol if your symptoms are high as it can make them worse! Is there anything al all that the Medical profession does not say is made worse by alcohol. Happily, my glass of red and gin and tonic do not increase my symptoms I am pleased to report. Also, as neuropathy affects the manipulation of hands/ feet so is mobility of various types a factor to consider. Caution around heat and flames, sharp objects like knives cutters etc is sensible as is ensuring that supports like rails are available to negotiate stairs, bathrooms etc if the feet are affected . Basic common sense is a big key but reminding oneself from time to time to exercise more caution is worthwhile. Ifind Ineed to do this especially in the kitchen when cooking or outside in the garden foer example. By so doing, Iam not barred from achieving what Iwant to do in most activities.

My own personal way to deal with my own symptoms other than what is quoted above, is to commit to exercise. The general pre-breakfast regime of mobilty and cardio-vascular workouts is now well established and I begin to appreciate the benefits after a month of base work. My wife now joins me, albeit briefly, for the light weight work on the arms which is part also of my own specific programme for neuropathy in my hands. The main part of this however, is to do hand exercises with sponge balls and grips to strengthen my hands. To date, the work is fine but no discernible improvement as yet to symptoms.

Thus, as with most if not all of the possible side effects, I can vouch they exist whilst being thankful that my levels are or have been always low.Life after Lymphoma still requires Positive Mental Attitude and a disciplined sense of self motivation. Neuropathy is just one case but it does serve to remind me that whilst treatment is completed and remission confirmed that their is no immediate cut off line. As my wife constantly reminds me, adhering to a gluten free diet and acting with discipline as outlined above is something not just for today but every future day to win the war and not just the battle.

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