Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer


By V

I had three cycles of Taxotere following four cycles of AC in January to March 2007. I was absolutely dreading it as I'd heard such horror stories and was very frightened of allergic reaction. (I have loads of allergies!)

I had the following side effects.

Hair loss. By the time I started Taxotere I’d already lost my hair. It started growing back on Taxotere – first on my legs (wouldn’t you just know it!) but also on my head. I never did lose my eyebrows. By the time I finished Taxotere I had about half inch all over my head – ready for a trim!

Nails. My oncologist never told me about this side effect and I never had any trouble. I did wonder whether you’d get half the effects if you weren’t expecting to. My nails were slightly ridged but no-one but me would have noticed.

Exhaustion. This hit on day 3 for about 3 days. It was a complete lack of energy - mental and physical. By cycle 3 I could barely lift my head off the pillow; going to the loo was a major challenge! But it didn’t last throughout the cycle. I found I just had to give in to it.

Bony pain. Again from days 3 to 6 and in more or less all bones. It wasn’t unbearable but it did make it hard to sleep. Chemo nurse recommended one ibuprofen and one paracetamol. This barely touched it so oncologist prescribed stronger painkillers – Tramadol I think.

Peripheral neuropathy. Loss of sensation in hands and feet and pins and needles. My feet were quite badly affected though hands less so. I didn’t feel safe unless I could SEE my feet – especially on stairs. So OH had to carry everything up and down. It went away completely about a month after treatment finished. I’ve read on a US website that L-Glutamine helps. Not sure if they’d prescribe that here.

Bad taste in mouth. This was helped by ginger, which I love! I'm told pineapple juice is also good. I never got mouth soreness – thank goodness. It was the side effect I was dreading most.

I got an infection midway through cycle 2. Went to hospital late one night (high fever and felt faint – and awful!) but it wasn't neutropenic so they let me out the next day with oral antibiotics. After this I was increasingly breathless. In retrospect I think it was the infection and not the Taxotere itself and that I might have needed a longer course of antibiotics. It got very limiting as I could barely walk any distance without needing to rest. I found I just had to put my body into first gear – which was hard as my brain wasn't in first gear. Having said when I started chemo that I should exercise, onc said I should listen to my body! So I stopped trying and just did what I could.

I didn’t put on weight – in fact lost a bit.

The good news is that Taxotere doesn’t tend to cause sickness. I did veer between constipation and diarrhoea but it wasn’t too bad. And of course I had chemofarting!

They give you quite high doses of steroids in case of allergic reaction and these made me hyper and meant I got very little sleep for two days before and two days after each dose. Oncologist was willing to lower dose if I didn’t react but chemo nurse persuaded me it wasn’t worth the risk. I tended to e-mail all night.

That’s all I can think of just now. It sounds awful but actually it wasn’t so bad most of the time. And a week after I had last dose I was in a friend’s kitchen and thought ‘I feel quite well’. Went from strength to strength after that. Had a holiday in South of France less than 4 weeks after last treatment and was really well. Managed quite a lot of sightseeing and felt great.

And just remember it is VERY EFFECTIVE!!!!