WBC not high enough for chemo: What can I do to get them higher?

Posted by MommaCandy @mommacandy, Mar 8 7:22am

So i went in for second chemo appt and my white blood cell count wasn't high enough for me to get chemo...my question is...
is there anything i can do to get them higher? any foods i could be attempting to eat etc? my appetite has sucked...on the good news side my CA125 has dropped from 1536 to 804 after one chemo treatment so i guess thats a really good thing...on the other downside, i've lost pretty much all my hair 🙁

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Good morning, @mommacandy. “Ain’t this just fun…”. I remember my ‘chemo buddy’ saying that as we walked the hospital halls together about 5 years ago. He and I were on the same chemo treatment schedule of being an inpatient every 28 days for 7 days of chemo, every 12 hours. He…a big burly biker dude and I was a little old lady. Nothing in common but our bags of juice. ☺️ Five years later, we are both cancer free and still text on a regular basis. Before cancer, he had long, dark hair in a pony tail or braid. He was lamenting having lost his hair too! Bald as a cue ball, he felt he was stripped of his image like Samson in the bible stories. Nope, he still commanded respect. Cancer wasn’t going to take this guy down…maybe his hair, but not Jumper! I saw a photo of him the other day…he’s back to his flowing locks riding his Hog. I’d pre-emptively had a buzz cut and felt pretty bad-a**. 😉 Anyway, your hair will grow back! In the meantime, own the look! It’s going to be the easiest time you’ve ever had with primping in the morning! I actually was a little annoyed when I had to start getting cuts and curls! Just watch out for sunburn…wear a sun hat!

Having low white blood counts, starting about a week or so after a chemo session is expected. It can last a couple weeks until blood numbers start to rise again. During that time the body is quite vulnerable to infections because the neutorphil count is very low. Generally, counts will start to rise again and be acceptable by the time the next round of chemo starts. But sometimes it takes the body a little longer to replenish. Your doctor will most likely order followup blood work in a week or so to check numbers and then you can resume the chemo.

From my experience, to avoid prolonged neutropenia and the potential for neutorpenic fevers or infection I was given an injection of Neulasta. Neulasta or another product called Neupogen can increase the production and release of neutrophils from the bone marrow. If this conditons persists for you, your doctor may suggested one of these options to bump up the production of your white blood cells. Not every patient is a candidate for this treatment so that’s something your doctor would decide based on your condition.
Here’s a little information on those products: https://www.verywellhealth.com/neulasta-vs-neupogen-for-chemotherapy-treatment-430223

Not much you can do to increase cells on your own right now. So just get rest, rest and more rest. Don’t push yourself. Eat healthy foods and try to eat enough protein and drink plenty of water.

Has your doctor mentioned Neupogen or Neulasta?

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I don't think there's anything in particular you should be eating, since your low WBCs are an effect of the chemo. They'll probably reduce your dose.

But you should definitely try to choke down as balanced a diet as you can. I recently discovered that fettuccine Alfredo frozen dinners with chicken and broccoli are bland enough that I can eat them on the bad days, although I don't really like them. I also find that actually eating isn't as bad as the thought of eating, so I feel better once I start. Good luck.

I have to admit that I'm not practicing what I preach very well. I have been up for 5 hours today and so far have eaten 3 frozen waffles and a magnesium tablet.

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Steak, beef broth, bone broth will work best. One thing that worked well for my family member is Italian Wedding Soup, modified a bit. Sauté a small onion and carrot in olive oil. When soft, add organic beef broth, 1/3 cup dried orzo pasta (looks like grains of rice). Cook for a few minutes. Then add pre-made meatballs (about 3 small ones per serving. I make my own and bake them in the oven for about 25 minutes. Let cool.). Cook everything for about another 20 minutes. Take a large handful of kale or spinach. Cut into ribbons and add to the pot. I always add some garlic to the pot —usually in the meatballs and also just before adding the broth—not too soon or it may burn.
When ready to serve, ladle into large bowls and grate some Parmesan over.
This worked wonders for my family member. Very nourishing and energizing; also delicious! This became her first meal after every chemo treatment.
Wishing you well!

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Eating a high iron diet can help increase RED blood cells, but I am unaware of any foods that help increase WHITE blood cells. I, too, am on Neulasta as described above. At last check, my white cell count was abnormally high…
I recommend Neulasta, if your doctor is OK with it.

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@loribmt

Good morning, @mommacandy. “Ain’t this just fun…”. I remember my ‘chemo buddy’ saying that as we walked the hospital halls together about 5 years ago. He and I were on the same chemo treatment schedule of being an inpatient every 28 days for 7 days of chemo, every 12 hours. He…a big burly biker dude and I was a little old lady. Nothing in common but our bags of juice. ☺️ Five years later, we are both cancer free and still text on a regular basis. Before cancer, he had long, dark hair in a pony tail or braid. He was lamenting having lost his hair too! Bald as a cue ball, he felt he was stripped of his image like Samson in the bible stories. Nope, he still commanded respect. Cancer wasn’t going to take this guy down…maybe his hair, but not Jumper! I saw a photo of him the other day…he’s back to his flowing locks riding his Hog. I’d pre-emptively had a buzz cut and felt pretty bad-a**. 😉 Anyway, your hair will grow back! In the meantime, own the look! It’s going to be the easiest time you’ve ever had with primping in the morning! I actually was a little annoyed when I had to start getting cuts and curls! Just watch out for sunburn…wear a sun hat!

Having low white blood counts, starting about a week or so after a chemo session is expected. It can last a couple weeks until blood numbers start to rise again. During that time the body is quite vulnerable to infections because the neutorphil count is very low. Generally, counts will start to rise again and be acceptable by the time the next round of chemo starts. But sometimes it takes the body a little longer to replenish. Your doctor will most likely order followup blood work in a week or so to check numbers and then you can resume the chemo.

From my experience, to avoid prolonged neutropenia and the potential for neutorpenic fevers or infection I was given an injection of Neulasta. Neulasta or another product called Neupogen can increase the production and release of neutrophils from the bone marrow. If this conditons persists for you, your doctor may suggested one of these options to bump up the production of your white blood cells. Not every patient is a candidate for this treatment so that’s something your doctor would decide based on your condition.
Here’s a little information on those products: https://www.verywellhealth.com/neulasta-vs-neupogen-for-chemotherapy-treatment-430223

Not much you can do to increase cells on your own right now. So just get rest, rest and more rest. Don’t push yourself. Eat healthy foods and try to eat enough protein and drink plenty of water.

Has your doctor mentioned Neupogen or Neulasta?

Jump to this post

yes he said after the next chemo treatment (hopefully tomorrow) they will do something like that in a delayed injection that is given in an autoinjector 24 hours after the chemo treatment...he said they weren't able to do that til the second chemo treatment because of not knowing how a person would react to chemo...but now they know they can do that...
i've been trying to eat but dang its hard some days...oysters and scallops taste normal so i've been eating a lot of those...was able to get a piece of steak down yesterday...today did some stuffed mushrooms that i stuffed with a scallop mixture...but its not easy.. seems like blueberries and shellfish have been the two things i've not had a lot of problem eating...

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@mommacandy

yes he said after the next chemo treatment (hopefully tomorrow) they will do something like that in a delayed injection that is given in an autoinjector 24 hours after the chemo treatment...he said they weren't able to do that til the second chemo treatment because of not knowing how a person would react to chemo...but now they know they can do that...
i've been trying to eat but dang its hard some days...oysters and scallops taste normal so i've been eating a lot of those...was able to get a piece of steak down yesterday...today did some stuffed mushrooms that i stuffed with a scallop mixture...but its not easy.. seems like blueberries and shellfish have been the two things i've not had a lot of problem eating...

Jump to this post

You should see a much faster response with your neutrophil counts going up beginning a few days after the injection. From experience and responses from other members who have had Neupogen or Neulasta injections, it’s pretty common to feel some discomfort in your bones when the medication starts working. An easy remedy, recommended by oncologists for that side effect, is to take Claritin antihistamine daily for a period of 7 to 10 days. Not Claritin-D, which has a decongestant that you don’t need. So if you do get the injection to help raise your white blood count ask your doctor or NP if it’s ok if you take Claritin.

Seriously? After chemo you’re able to eat oysters!?! Wow, while I love oysters, there’s no way I would have been able to handle those while on chemo. One thing to be very cautious to avoid while on chemo, are food borne illnesses. It’s important to make sure all meats and seafoods are fully cooked to at least 160 degrees. Included any deli sandwich meats!! In fact, you should avoid deli or buffet foods altogether for a while. Here is a good food safety guide from Cancer.net while on Chemo:
https://www.cancer.net/survivorship/healthy-living/food-safety-during-and-after-cancer-treatment

Wishing you all the best on this next round of chemo. Fingers crossed that your blood numbers are up enough to go ahead with the treatment so you can get all of this behind you! 😉 How many rounds of chemo are expected in your plan?

REPLY
@mommacandy

yes he said after the next chemo treatment (hopefully tomorrow) they will do something like that in a delayed injection that is given in an autoinjector 24 hours after the chemo treatment...he said they weren't able to do that til the second chemo treatment because of not knowing how a person would react to chemo...but now they know they can do that...
i've been trying to eat but dang its hard some days...oysters and scallops taste normal so i've been eating a lot of those...was able to get a piece of steak down yesterday...today did some stuffed mushrooms that i stuffed with a scallop mixture...but its not easy.. seems like blueberries and shellfish have been the two things i've not had a lot of problem eating...

Jump to this post

Be sure to take claritin or generic is Loratadine, take before, day of and a few days after. That nulasta can cause some crazy pain for some. No one had prepared me, each dose is easier.

REPLY
@loribmt

You should see a much faster response with your neutrophil counts going up beginning a few days after the injection. From experience and responses from other members who have had Neupogen or Neulasta injections, it’s pretty common to feel some discomfort in your bones when the medication starts working. An easy remedy, recommended by oncologists for that side effect, is to take Claritin antihistamine daily for a period of 7 to 10 days. Not Claritin-D, which has a decongestant that you don’t need. So if you do get the injection to help raise your white blood count ask your doctor or NP if it’s ok if you take Claritin.

Seriously? After chemo you’re able to eat oysters!?! Wow, while I love oysters, there’s no way I would have been able to handle those while on chemo. One thing to be very cautious to avoid while on chemo, are food borne illnesses. It’s important to make sure all meats and seafoods are fully cooked to at least 160 degrees. Included any deli sandwich meats!! In fact, you should avoid deli or buffet foods altogether for a while. Here is a good food safety guide from Cancer.net while on Chemo:
https://www.cancer.net/survivorship/healthy-living/food-safety-during-and-after-cancer-treatment

Wishing you all the best on this next round of chemo. Fingers crossed that your blood numbers are up enough to go ahead with the treatment so you can get all of this behind you! 😉 How many rounds of chemo are expected in your plan?

Jump to this post

ironically fried oysters are one of the few foods i've craved.. i must have eaten half a gal at least over the past couple of weeks.... but only 5 or 6 at a time...
can't stomach sandwiches or breads of any kind though 🙁 not even the homemade bread i could normally sit down and eat half a loaf at a time of... can't stomach any kind of deli meats, or pork or scrambled eggs...which is weird because ironically my best friend couldn't handle pork on his chemo either...so no bacon or sausage or ham...all foods i normally would eat... at least 95% of the foods i eat are foods i cook from scratch so thats been really interesting with me not feeling like cooking most days... my hubby swears he's starving cause he's been having to cook for himself and he does things like hamburgers, hot dogs, frozen fish and chicken nuggets etc,.. i made bbq ribs potato salad and baked beans yesterday and he was in heaven...then today he got cubed steak a baked potato and some of the scallop stuffed mushrooms and he was like "wow two good meals for two days in a row, i'm gonna starve with you leaving again" to which i just laughed and said well there's leftover ribs in the fridge lol.. its been really weird for me with me being a "scratch cooker", I've managed a couple of small pieces of steak over the past week, and baked potatoes but not much else.. unless you count thin mints.... the only GS cookie i can tolerate atm..
they are doing 3 rounds of chemo (which of course has now gotten off schedule and having to be recalculated), then a CT scan to see if the tumors have shrunk enough to do surgery...if not then prob another 3 before checking again... so that part is still kinda up in the air...

REPLY
@loribmt

Good morning, @mommacandy. “Ain’t this just fun…”. I remember my ‘chemo buddy’ saying that as we walked the hospital halls together about 5 years ago. He and I were on the same chemo treatment schedule of being an inpatient every 28 days for 7 days of chemo, every 12 hours. He…a big burly biker dude and I was a little old lady. Nothing in common but our bags of juice. ☺️ Five years later, we are both cancer free and still text on a regular basis. Before cancer, he had long, dark hair in a pony tail or braid. He was lamenting having lost his hair too! Bald as a cue ball, he felt he was stripped of his image like Samson in the bible stories. Nope, he still commanded respect. Cancer wasn’t going to take this guy down…maybe his hair, but not Jumper! I saw a photo of him the other day…he’s back to his flowing locks riding his Hog. I’d pre-emptively had a buzz cut and felt pretty bad-a**. 😉 Anyway, your hair will grow back! In the meantime, own the look! It’s going to be the easiest time you’ve ever had with primping in the morning! I actually was a little annoyed when I had to start getting cuts and curls! Just watch out for sunburn…wear a sun hat!

Having low white blood counts, starting about a week or so after a chemo session is expected. It can last a couple weeks until blood numbers start to rise again. During that time the body is quite vulnerable to infections because the neutorphil count is very low. Generally, counts will start to rise again and be acceptable by the time the next round of chemo starts. But sometimes it takes the body a little longer to replenish. Your doctor will most likely order followup blood work in a week or so to check numbers and then you can resume the chemo.

From my experience, to avoid prolonged neutropenia and the potential for neutorpenic fevers or infection I was given an injection of Neulasta. Neulasta or another product called Neupogen can increase the production and release of neutrophils from the bone marrow. If this conditons persists for you, your doctor may suggested one of these options to bump up the production of your white blood cells. Not every patient is a candidate for this treatment so that’s something your doctor would decide based on your condition.
Here’s a little information on those products: https://www.verywellhealth.com/neulasta-vs-neupogen-for-chemotherapy-treatment-430223

Not much you can do to increase cells on your own right now. So just get rest, rest and more rest. Don’t push yourself. Eat healthy foods and try to eat enough protein and drink plenty of water.

Has your doctor mentioned Neupogen or Neulasta?

Jump to this post

I’d consider googling how to raise white blood counts and platelets. A friend has been drinking papaya leaf tea and says it has helped. Hang in there!

REPLY

I find some seafood pretty easy to eat, too. Fried calamari with spicy sauce. Frozen battered fish. But not salmon (my favorite!).
Also, I’ve found some dairy foods OK: yogurt, ice cream, and cheese.
Coffee stopped tasting good. So I drink Ensure Max Protein (with 100 mg of caffeine!) which is tolerable.

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