Cyclophosphamide: What is it? What are the effects, and how to get through them?

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I recently went through s cycle of Cyclophosphamide and was thoroughly surprised about how I was effected by the side effects, which unfortunately was not made aware of by my medical professionals. 

Even though I have yet to see the benefits of the treatments, they can take up to three months before they can be noticed I thought it would be helpful for me to write to help anyone who is currently having or considering the treatment along with some tips 

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What is Cyclophosphamide?

Cyclophosphamide is a chemotherapy drug that is often used to treat various types of cancer and certain types of kidney disease in children after the failure of other treatments. 

Side effects of cyclophosphamide can include:

Loss of appetite
Stomach pain
Hair loss
Darkened skin/nails.

Nausea and vomiting can be severe. It may be necessary to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Dietary changes, such as eating smaller meals or restricting activities, can help reduce some of these effects. If these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor immediately. 

Temporary hair loss may occur. Hair can grow back after the treatment is over or even during the treatment. However, the new hair can be of a different colour or texture.

Serious Side Effects

The drug may have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this medicine for you, because they believe that the benefits to you outweigh the risks of side effects. Close monitoring by a doctor can reduce your risk.  If you have serious side effects, including the following signs then seek medical help.

Kidney or bladder problems (such as changes in urine output, pink/haematuria)
Mouth ulcers
Joint pain
Menstrual interruptions
Existing wounds and slow healing
Black/bloody stools
Heavy abdomen /Abdominal pain
Yellow eyes or skin
Dark urine
Mood swings
Muscle weakness/spasm. 

In rare cases, this drug can have a very serious effect on the heart, especially when used in high doses or combined with radiation therapy or other chemotherapy drugs (such as doxorubicin). 

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following conditions: chest pain, jaw/left arm pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, heart failure symptoms (such as shortness of breath, ankle/foot swelling, abnormal tiredness, abnormal/sudden weight).

Anaemia: This drug reduces bone marrow function, which causes a decrease in the number of blood cells, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This effect can cause anaemia, reduce the body's ability to fight infection, or cause bruising. 

Infertility: This medication usually causes temporary infertility, but in some cases, it may be permanent. Please contact your doctor for more information. 

Other cancers: Although Cyclophosphamide is used to treat cancer; some patients may have an increased risk of developing another cancer months or years after treatment. Please contact your doctor for more information. It is very important to receive strict medical supervision during treatment.

Abnormal Lumps: You should also see a doctor regularly even if the treatment is over. If you experience any abnormal bumps or lumps, swollen glands, sudden or unexplained weight loss, night sweats, pelvic pain, or frequent urination, please tell your doctor immediately. 

Allergies: Very severe allergic reactions to this drug are rare. If you experience symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, including rash, itching/swelling (especially face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, and difficulty breathing, please contact your doctor immediately.

Does Cyclophosphamide interact with other drugs you are taking?

Before taking cyclophosphamide, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it or any other chemotherapy drugs (such as busulfan, chlorambucil).

Some products that interact with cyclophosphamide drugs include chloramphenicol, chloroquine, allopurinol, digoxin, phenobarbital, phenothiazine’s, nalidixic acid, primidone, voclosporin, St John's wort, turmeric (curcumin).

How to get through the side effects?

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Take Rest

Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer patients, especially those receiving chemotherapy. Therefore, even if you feel good, rest and avoid overwork. Now is the time to return to normal energy levels. Remember, you can ask for help. 

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Stay Hydrated 

Diarrhoea, vomiting, and other side effects of chemotherapy can cause dehydration. It has low energy, but it can also cause other health problems. Make sure to drink plenty of water during treatment. Caffeine-free tea, juice, and milk can also help. If you cannot get enough fluids or stay hydrated, please consult your doctor. 

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Eat when you can

Chemotherapy can cause nausea and loss of appetite, so it is important to eat as much as possible to avoid malnutrition. Please note that during the treatment, many foods will taste differently. In some patients, food may have a metallic taste during and after chemotherapy. Create a sense of normalcy in your daily life. If possible, stick to your daily routine. Small things like dressing or eating with family every day. These rituals will help you stop thinking about cancer. Contact your support staff and nursing staff during treatment. 

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Make Yourself Comfortable

Chemotherapy is difficult. Therefore, please seek support from your family, friends, and caretakers. The doctors and nurses will do their best to make you feel comfortable. However, you must ask questions and express your concerns so that they can help. Your favourite blanket, delicious snack, your best friend, a good book, or anything else that makes you feel more comfortable and keeps you busy while you wait.

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Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are usually manageable. Before each chemotherapy cycle, you will receive oral or intravenous medications to treat the disease, and you will get some painkillers to take home.

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Hair Loss

Most cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy will experience baldness, which usually starts 7 to 21 days after the first treatment. Some people gradually lose their hair, and some people have large strands on their pillows when they wake up, but hair loss depends on the type and dosage of chemotherapy you will receive. Before starting treatment, discuss with your doctor what will happen, and then plan what to do if you lose your hair. For example, if you start to lose hair or decide to try protective styles, scarves, wigs, turbans, or hats, you may want to consider getting a haircut or shaved head. 

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Protect your skin and nails

Moisturize your skin to reduce dryness, but choose a cream with the least amount of perfume to minimize the risk of reaction; test a small area of skin.

Take care of yourself in the sun first: cover your skin and wear a hat, use high SPF sunscreen, and avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day.

Hand cream helps keep hands, feet, and nails hydrated. 

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Maintain a positive attitude 

Sometimes our fears are worse than reality, and daily treatments will surprise us. Pay attention to the positive aspects of your day, no matter how small and trivial, to keep you in a good mood. 

Love Life |Love Health | Love Beauty| Love Creativity 

Lee-Anne x 

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