Yes, it's true if your white count (leukocytes) drops too low, that will delay chemo by some days or weeks until it recovers, I think that's true also of red cells & thrombo's but it seems the leuko's are the most frequent problem. That said, I never took a supplement through 4 months of Induction chemo, stem cell collection, stem cell transplant, and then 4 more months of consolidation chemo (I was in a clinical trial). And I never once had to delay chemo. In fact, my white count (actually, all my counts) remained in the normal range through the first 4 cycles of chemo, until stem cell transplant. And they rebounded about a month after transplant (although my white count rebounded only to 3, just a bit below normal, but it's still slowly rising).
Actually, MM doesn't directly attack the white cells or red cells, what happens is the proliferation of plasma cells growing out of control crowds out all the other guys. Here's a good explanation from the cancer.org website:
"In multiple myeloma, the overgrowth of plasma cells in the bone marrow can crowd out normal blood-forming cells, leading to low blood counts. This can cause anemia — a shortage of red blood cells. People with anemia become pale, weak, and fatigued. Multiple myeloma can also cause the level of platelets in the blood to become low (calledthrombocytopenia). This can lead to increased bleeding and bruising. Another condition that can develop is leukopenia— a shortage of normal white blood cells. This can lead to problems fighting infections."
Hope this helps. Does your boyfriend get printouts of his blood results every week? I did that, and found it interesting to track how my blood counts were doing, and considering that in relation to my eating/sleeping and work/activity habits of the preceding week.
Madison, I hope your white count improves and then stabilizes. I'm saying a special prayer for you.
Every day I remind myself how lucky I've been in this long journey we're all on. It's important for us all - and that includes our spouses/partners who I think have it tougher than we patients - to remember that there will at times be bumps in the road and we just have to say "ok, I can deal with that, let's move forward". It's a marathon, it's a roller coaster, but we just learn to live with it. Maintain a positive attitude, remind yourself every day "I CAN do this" and don't fret too much about the "what if's" - because most of the things we worry might happen never do. And then look at all that energy you wasted on the worrying, and for nothing! :-) So live, laugh, love! Focus on the positive. That's my motto.
Madison, I hope you are feeling better. I will keep you in my thoughts & prayers.
Multi Myeloma attacks immune system, my wbc was 1 therefore I couldn't get chemo that week. It averages between 1.3 & 1.4 Everything to do w/ immune system is rock bottom low.
They want nothing to interfer w/ chemo.
It sounds like your boyfriend is doing all the right things, diet-wise. Where I'm being treated, it is common to prescribe prophylactic antibiotics and anti-virals during chemo, sometimes also anti-fungals. I had a bad allergic reaction to antibiotic after a month on them, so that was discontinued though I remained on anti-virals for 10 months until treatment ended. I developed no infections, had no illnesses during that entire time. However, I washed my hands frequently and on my doctor's advise didn't eat sushi, meat was thoroughly cooked, eggs too (no runny yolks). Also, for 2 months after stem cell transplant I was told to avoid situations where I would be in enclosed spaces with large numbers of people who could potentially infect me - no concert halls, movie theaters, public transport (including flights)
Is there a reason you're especially concerned about his immune system? Is it showing signs of being especially compromised? Since my stem cell transplant at end of Sept 2013, my leukocyte (white cell) count has been low but still I've remained healthy as it slowly recovers.
Thank you all for your responses.
Since my boyfriend's diagnosis (February), he has been eating an anti-inflammatory diet. He avoids sugar and processed foods. He drinks a lot of water. In fact, he was drinking too much water and it was interfering with his sodium level. He has since adjusted how much water he is drinking.
When he began chemo, he was on Velcade & Dex. His previous oncologist suggested he not take any supplements. He just this week started Revlimid & Dex and is still off all supplements.
I am quite concerned about his immune system. Is there anything he can do to strengthen the immune system while on chemo? I have read so many articles on nutrition & supplements and it seems many cancer patients on chemo take supplements but, that being said, when he asks his doctor, the answer to supplements is typically "no". Its very frustrating!