My body's immune system after cancer

Posted by rhongirl @rhongirl, Mar 12, 2022

As I sit here with yet another cold, I'm wondering if others have had this experience after chemo. I was diagnosed Dec. 2019, with chemo in 2020, and multiple surgeries (4 to date) over the next two years. My oncologist told me they gave me the highest dose of chemo they safely could, as the type of cancer I had was not very nice. During the almost six months of chemo, my body did not experience valleys in its counts, and chemo was as scheduled throughout. I counted myself so very fortunate.

But now, a little over two years since this all began, I find myself struggling to get through a simple cold. Since Christmas, I had a cold (sinus infection), the stomach flu, another cold that turned into pneumonia, and only to recover and pick up another cold. I am now on antibiotics again. Everyone else in the family took days to recover from their colds, but unfortunately, not me. We have 13 grandchildren who live within a 1/2 mile of us (wonderful!), but the dr. called them "little petri dishes" yesterday. One sniffle from a child, and I catch their bug and go down. Has anyone else experienced this? I've talked to another breast cancer survivor, and she told me it took her a long time (years). While I do not post to complain, it is rather to understand what others' experiences have been. Does your body ever strengthen to the level as it was before cancer treatment?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Breast Cancer Support Group.

I also took chemo for a nasty breast cancer. I know that these types of drugs can cause a weakened immune system. My doctor said my cell counts were ok, but again and again I would get viruses. I was also very susceptible to contact type infections. This went on for a couple of years and just when I thought it would never end, it did. I went from having IV antibiotics every month or two, to nothing going on. Since the human body is amazing and no one can answer all the reasons why, I just count my blessings. I would add that I agree with the little children being little Petri dishes, I always say that is how immune systems get built. Keep the faith, hopefully you will come out of this with a stronger immune system too. 13 is a lot, are they all from one family? Is it possible to limit exposure to a few at a time, without breaking hearts of course?

REPLY
@auntieoakley

I also took chemo for a nasty breast cancer. I know that these types of drugs can cause a weakened immune system. My doctor said my cell counts were ok, but again and again I would get viruses. I was also very susceptible to contact type infections. This went on for a couple of years and just when I thought it would never end, it did. I went from having IV antibiotics every month or two, to nothing going on. Since the human body is amazing and no one can answer all the reasons why, I just count my blessings. I would add that I agree with the little children being little Petri dishes, I always say that is how immune systems get built. Keep the faith, hopefully you will come out of this with a stronger immune system too. 13 is a lot, are they all from one family? Is it possible to limit exposure to a few at a time, without breaking hearts of course?

Jump to this post

Thank you for your reply, @auntieoakley. Your experiences encourage me. I do not often get discouraged, but I have been as of late, since I seem to be battling with a weakened system. I actually had four surgeries over the next year and a half after chemo treatments, and I think the stress to my body has just taken a toll. I have one surgery yet remaining, but I can put this off for some time. And I will. I need my body to get a bit stronger first. Sleep, diet, exercise, laughter. I am still working on all those elements. . . Thirteen, made up of two families of six children, and one young family of one (so far). We have spoken with the families about exposure. . . but we are going to be revisiting the topic again! Thanks so much for your reply. It helps.

REPLY

@rhongirl – This year it will be 30(!) years ago since I had mastectomy and chemo. I was also lucky to be able to take all treatments on time and full dose.
Over the years I have had my share of sinus infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. Also 2 sinus surgeries. I’m 77 now and my immune system is temperamental.
I just read a medical article today about how to strengthen the immune defense.
Cut out/ down stress, sleep, moderate physical activity and a good sense of humor – just what you mentioned!
Before retirement I had a job with intense stress- I still have difficulty with stress.
I also developed an autoimmune colitis.
You have been through a lot the past couple of years- tough on your body. It takes time for the body to heal after surgeries.
You will get back to normal- in the meantime keep an eye on those cute Petri dishes!
I still wear a face mask when I’m in a crowded place. There are so many viruses, including the flu, circulating.

REPLY

I have had radiation with a targeted therapy for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, after my initial surgery, but no immunosuppressive chemo. I have had 3 surgeries plus a kidney biopsy over 10 years for metastases. I am currently on a checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy. After each surgery, it was months before I started to feel human again, and you have had many surgeries over a very short period of time. Your full recovery will most likely be quite prolonged. As soon as I finished radiation, I began an Immune Augmentation Therapy for cancer at a clinic which is located in the Bahamas, and has a track record for prolonging the lives of cancer patients. I have been on the therapy for over 9 years now. While it entails self administered injections of human serum factors and cytokines, I also received information on boosting your immune system naturally. Since I started on this treatment plus supplements, I rarely get a cold or viral infection. I may have incurable stage 4 metastatic SCC, but I am living well with it and not getting sick. I can visit with grandkids and not come away with a cold. Even my Mayo doctors believe that what I am doing has prolonged my life. One supplement I have taken since I began the immune augmentation is some form of 1,3 D beta glucan. This is derived from mushrooms or yeast and also has substantial research evidence in improving immune function. There are many brands available online and in health food stores, but doing your own research shows that Glucan Elite and the Transfer Point product may have the most effective production methods. I am also recommending the book The Rebel's Apothecary by Jenny Sansouci. It is a veritable bible of information on medicinal mushrooms as well as cannabis (which I have not tried). Since reading this book I think I understand more about the supplements I have been on and why they work, and have added a mushroom blend to my daily routine in coffee. These are NOT the hallucinogenic mushrooms, but the safe and edible ones that have been used for hundreds of years in Eastern medicine. She has the education and has done the research into the use of these supplements. So I encourage you to do your own research on improving immune function, because in addition to the suggestions above, which are very important, there is more that you can do. Our oncologists are our primary source of guidance in the medical/surgical pathway, but there is more out there to look into to help yourself. Be careful what you read and try to stick with articles from medical professionals and National Institute of Health where you can find actual research. As for masks, I may never stop wearing one. The past two years have shown us all that proper mask wearing and handling and hand washing will cut your viral exposure way down. It is tough to do at home, but if you are getting so much exposure with the little germ factories, it may be worthwhile. Good luck with boosting your immune system.

REPLY
@sepdvm

I have had radiation with a targeted therapy for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, after my initial surgery, but no immunosuppressive chemo. I have had 3 surgeries plus a kidney biopsy over 10 years for metastases. I am currently on a checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy. After each surgery, it was months before I started to feel human again, and you have had many surgeries over a very short period of time. Your full recovery will most likely be quite prolonged. As soon as I finished radiation, I began an Immune Augmentation Therapy for cancer at a clinic which is located in the Bahamas, and has a track record for prolonging the lives of cancer patients. I have been on the therapy for over 9 years now. While it entails self administered injections of human serum factors and cytokines, I also received information on boosting your immune system naturally. Since I started on this treatment plus supplements, I rarely get a cold or viral infection. I may have incurable stage 4 metastatic SCC, but I am living well with it and not getting sick. I can visit with grandkids and not come away with a cold. Even my Mayo doctors believe that what I am doing has prolonged my life. One supplement I have taken since I began the immune augmentation is some form of 1,3 D beta glucan. This is derived from mushrooms or yeast and also has substantial research evidence in improving immune function. There are many brands available online and in health food stores, but doing your own research shows that Glucan Elite and the Transfer Point product may have the most effective production methods. I am also recommending the book The Rebel's Apothecary by Jenny Sansouci. It is a veritable bible of information on medicinal mushrooms as well as cannabis (which I have not tried). Since reading this book I think I understand more about the supplements I have been on and why they work, and have added a mushroom blend to my daily routine in coffee. These are NOT the hallucinogenic mushrooms, but the safe and edible ones that have been used for hundreds of years in Eastern medicine. She has the education and has done the research into the use of these supplements. So I encourage you to do your own research on improving immune function, because in addition to the suggestions above, which are very important, there is more that you can do. Our oncologists are our primary source of guidance in the medical/surgical pathway, but there is more out there to look into to help yourself. Be careful what you read and try to stick with articles from medical professionals and National Institute of Health where you can find actual research. As for masks, I may never stop wearing one. The past two years have shown us all that proper mask wearing and handling and hand washing will cut your viral exposure way down. It is tough to do at home, but if you are getting so much exposure with the little germ factories, it may be worthwhile. Good luck with boosting your immune system.

Jump to this post

Thank you for your reply, @sepdvm This is a question to ponder even asking. . . as people all seem to have their own methods. It's challenging to sort through. But I am at a point where I want to do SOMETHING. Doctors do not give the same advice, as you well know, so we are left thinking, researching, and praying about it. Thank you for your thoughts, I will take a look!

REPLY
@astaingegerdm

@rhongirl – This year it will be 30(!) years ago since I had mastectomy and chemo. I was also lucky to be able to take all treatments on time and full dose.
Over the years I have had my share of sinus infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. Also 2 sinus surgeries. I’m 77 now and my immune system is temperamental.
I just read a medical article today about how to strengthen the immune defense.
Cut out/ down stress, sleep, moderate physical activity and a good sense of humor – just what you mentioned!
Before retirement I had a job with intense stress- I still have difficulty with stress.
I also developed an autoimmune colitis.
You have been through a lot the past couple of years- tough on your body. It takes time for the body to heal after surgeries.
You will get back to normal- in the meantime keep an eye on those cute Petri dishes!
I still wear a face mask when I’m in a crowded place. There are so many viruses, including the flu, circulating.

Jump to this post

@astaingegerdm I did the right thing. . . I just received a call from Mayo to schedule my final surgery, and I declined. I said that my body was telling me to wait. It is not a life-saving surgery, it is only cosmetic, leftover from the reconstruction. I will give my body time and revisit the last surgery option later in the year.

REPLY

Wow, that’s great!!! It’s not a good time of the year anyway.
You will know when it’s time. Be well this spring!

REPLY
@sepdvm

I have had radiation with a targeted therapy for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, after my initial surgery, but no immunosuppressive chemo. I have had 3 surgeries plus a kidney biopsy over 10 years for metastases. I am currently on a checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy. After each surgery, it was months before I started to feel human again, and you have had many surgeries over a very short period of time. Your full recovery will most likely be quite prolonged. As soon as I finished radiation, I began an Immune Augmentation Therapy for cancer at a clinic which is located in the Bahamas, and has a track record for prolonging the lives of cancer patients. I have been on the therapy for over 9 years now. While it entails self administered injections of human serum factors and cytokines, I also received information on boosting your immune system naturally. Since I started on this treatment plus supplements, I rarely get a cold or viral infection. I may have incurable stage 4 metastatic SCC, but I am living well with it and not getting sick. I can visit with grandkids and not come away with a cold. Even my Mayo doctors believe that what I am doing has prolonged my life. One supplement I have taken since I began the immune augmentation is some form of 1,3 D beta glucan. This is derived from mushrooms or yeast and also has substantial research evidence in improving immune function. There are many brands available online and in health food stores, but doing your own research shows that Glucan Elite and the Transfer Point product may have the most effective production methods. I am also recommending the book The Rebel's Apothecary by Jenny Sansouci. It is a veritable bible of information on medicinal mushrooms as well as cannabis (which I have not tried). Since reading this book I think I understand more about the supplements I have been on and why they work, and have added a mushroom blend to my daily routine in coffee. These are NOT the hallucinogenic mushrooms, but the safe and edible ones that have been used for hundreds of years in Eastern medicine. She has the education and has done the research into the use of these supplements. So I encourage you to do your own research on improving immune function, because in addition to the suggestions above, which are very important, there is more that you can do. Our oncologists are our primary source of guidance in the medical/surgical pathway, but there is more out there to look into to help yourself. Be careful what you read and try to stick with articles from medical professionals and National Institute of Health where you can find actual research. As for masks, I may never stop wearing one. The past two years have shown us all that proper mask wearing and handling and hand washing will cut your viral exposure way down. It is tough to do at home, but if you are getting so much exposure with the little germ factories, it may be worthwhile. Good luck with boosting your immune system.

Jump to this post

Hello Sue
We are all the cancer people need to strengthen immune system.
And have to do it through our own research.
I found your comments are very interesting and useful!
And would like to ask you about Bahamas clinic
location ( phone number) etc.
I don’t quite understand the kind of injection the clinic is recommending.
Sound similar to PRP ( platelets reach plasma) or something else?
I wander if you have heard about VISCOSAN (MISTLETOE ) injection that is supposed to improve immunity.
I am doing it based on the holistic’s doctor advice for the cancer patients,
I am a breast cancer patient .
The mash-rooms supplement also has been discussed.
I know about turkey tail mass-room.!
I definitely would look for the book, you have recommended .
And you have mentioned the different mash room supplement that you're taking.
The only I know for sure, that we have to try every possible avenues to help our body’s to recover or survive !!
Thank you
Keep well. 😊

REPLY

When looking for and evaluating complementary therapies, I usually turn to NIH's National Center for Complementary and Integrated Medicine (NCCIH) website https://nccih.nih.gov/

In the section "Health Topics A-Z" current therapies and conditions are listed explaining the most recent evidence, cautions and potential of future studies.

Many cancer centers also have Integrative Medicine departments that use integrative approaches with conventional medicine therapy to help with side effects, boosting the immune system, and improving wellbeing. You can read more here:
– Integrative Medicine and Health at Mayo https://www.mayoclinic.org/departments-centers/integrative-medicine-health/sections/overview/ovc-20464567

REPLY
@sepdvm

I have had radiation with a targeted therapy for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, after my initial surgery, but no immunosuppressive chemo. I have had 3 surgeries plus a kidney biopsy over 10 years for metastases. I am currently on a checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy. After each surgery, it was months before I started to feel human again, and you have had many surgeries over a very short period of time. Your full recovery will most likely be quite prolonged. As soon as I finished radiation, I began an Immune Augmentation Therapy for cancer at a clinic which is located in the Bahamas, and has a track record for prolonging the lives of cancer patients. I have been on the therapy for over 9 years now. While it entails self administered injections of human serum factors and cytokines, I also received information on boosting your immune system naturally. Since I started on this treatment plus supplements, I rarely get a cold or viral infection. I may have incurable stage 4 metastatic SCC, but I am living well with it and not getting sick. I can visit with grandkids and not come away with a cold. Even my Mayo doctors believe that what I am doing has prolonged my life. One supplement I have taken since I began the immune augmentation is some form of 1,3 D beta glucan. This is derived from mushrooms or yeast and also has substantial research evidence in improving immune function. There are many brands available online and in health food stores, but doing your own research shows that Glucan Elite and the Transfer Point product may have the most effective production methods. I am also recommending the book The Rebel's Apothecary by Jenny Sansouci. It is a veritable bible of information on medicinal mushrooms as well as cannabis (which I have not tried). Since reading this book I think I understand more about the supplements I have been on and why they work, and have added a mushroom blend to my daily routine in coffee. These are NOT the hallucinogenic mushrooms, but the safe and edible ones that have been used for hundreds of years in Eastern medicine. She has the education and has done the research into the use of these supplements. So I encourage you to do your own research on improving immune function, because in addition to the suggestions above, which are very important, there is more that you can do. Our oncologists are our primary source of guidance in the medical/surgical pathway, but there is more out there to look into to help yourself. Be careful what you read and try to stick with articles from medical professionals and National Institute of Health where you can find actual research. As for masks, I may never stop wearing one. The past two years have shown us all that proper mask wearing and handling and hand washing will cut your viral exposure way down. It is tough to do at home, but if you are getting so much exposure with the little germ factories, it may be worthwhile. Good luck with boosting your immune system.

Jump to this post

I second anyone looking into research. It can be daunting if one is not a biochemist or medical researcher, but one can read the introductions and conclusions to see which articles might apply to your area of interest. And can lead to questions you might want to ask your medical team. [I found articles on sugar/cancer connection interesting and a tad alarming, given a lifelong sweet tooth to now rein in.] A researcher friend suggested I use Google Scholar to minimize ads and other flotsam Google spews out.

REPLY
Please sign in or register to post a reply.