CapeWomenOnline - Where Cape Women Shine
Your local venue for the women of Cape Cod to share their ideas, experiences and resources while inspiring each other in their life's journey
Inspire . Encourage . Network . Share
Cancer Q & A
with Kathy Kanavos
Ask Me Anything!
Kathy O'Keefe Kanavos addresses your
I took Taxol last year as one of my chemotherapies for breast cancer. Half way through my treatment I developed numbness in my fingers and toes. I know that this is a side effect of some chemotherapy. Will I always have this numbness?
Cindy, Boston MA
Unfortunately some cancer treatments do have lingering, late and long-term side effects. Some, like nausea, are well known. Others, like neuropathy (nerve damage that results in loss of sensation in the feet, hands and legs) can be extremely painful and impede mobility.
My lingering side effect from cancer therapy was ringing in my ears and some neuropathy in my left leg and foot. Eventually this went away, without the help of other medications, and now it's just a memory EXCEPT when I become extremely fatigued.
Is there a certain time of the day that your neuropathy is more pronounced? I did not take Taxol but I know friends who did. They said their neuropathy eventually diminished.
Time and a positive mental attitude have ways of healing the body. Staying focused on the fact that I was a survivor was a great help in my healing process.
Think of the tingling in your hands and feet as a reminder that you are a winner. Use it as a yardstick to measure your healing progress – it can let you know when it's time to take a nap, or give yourself a break from over exertion.
Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos is a two-time breast cancer survivor who penned SURVIVING TRAUMALAND: The Intuitive Aspects of Healing.
She is represented by Devra Jacobs of Dancing Word Group, and Steve Allen Media. In addition to writing this column, she's a phone counselor for R.A. BLOCH Cancer Foundation, an inspirational speaker, and appears frequently on inspirational radio shows.
If you are struggling with your own diagnosis, or know someone who is, please email Kathy with your questions and concerns at:
I was on the Tamoxifen for almost 3weeks and the joint pains were debilitating. They then tried me on Mobic for a few days and that barely took the edge off. They have now taken me off of it until I go back to see my doctor. I guess we will then start over.
This waiting to start my post treatment follow-up treatment scares me because I had stage IIIa breast cancer with 11 positive nodes. I want to take what I need, but I also have to be able to function because I have children who are 8 and 18-years-old. There has to be a happy medium.
What really scares me is I have a very high pain tolerance and these joint pains had me crying for the last two days! Any suggestions? I am still a newbie at this game of survival after cancer.
I'm so sorry you are in such emotional and physical pain. I took Arimidex after taking Tamoxifen for only 3 years. I found that it stopped working after 3 years, which is sometimes the case.
My chemotherapy, Adriamycin/Cytoxan aka A/C, put me into early menopause. I was in my 40s at the time. So my doctor put me on Arimidex. I did not have joint pains while taking either post chemotherapy treatment drug, but I knew of many other women who did have physical discomfort as a side effect.
There are many post treatment drugs available that work as an aromatase inhibitor, like Tamoxifen and Arimidex. Work with your doctor to find one that's the best for you.
I had Stage 4 Breast Cancer and have been cancer-free for 14 and 8 years, respectively. While taking Arimidex, I took extra calcium because Arimidex can affect the bones and make them weaker. If you decide to go with Arimidex, ask to have a bone density test before you start it and request another every other year after that to be sure your bones stay healthy.