• Does chemo age you prematurely?

    Asked by Loafer on Sunday, December 9, 2012

    Does chemo age you prematurely?

    Lots more wrinkles, puffy eyes, fatigue, body aches, poor stamina, loss of muscle tone in only two months!!! Jeez... Hoping this is temporary. What's your experience been?

    31 Answers from the Community

    31 answers
    • karen1956's Avatar
      karen1956

      I don't think the chemo aged me in the ways you describe...but the AI's did!!! But chemo did cause fatigue which lead to less stamina....once I finished chemo (and rads and ooph) energy started to come back.....

      about 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar
      nancyjac

      Everything that doesn't kill you, ages you. Some of the symptoms you list, however, are not necessarily signs of aging. Fatigue, stamina, body aches are common side effects of chemo and generally improve gradually once chemo ends. The rest may be indirect side effect due to stress or inactivity.

      about 4 years ago
    • Debbie's Avatar
      Debbie

      Loader - I am right there with you! The face wrinkles and loss of muscle tone are the worst. But I went from exercise boot camps to merely surviving the past 4 months. Hopefully most of these issues will disappear as we get through treatment and heal. Maybe the wrinkles are part of our battle scars????

      about 4 years ago
    • Debbie's Avatar
      Debbie

      Loafer - sorry I misspelled your name....

      about 4 years ago
    • Harry's Avatar
      Harry

      After you finish chemo, you probably should start exercising again. Start small, you may have to force yourself in the beginning, but you should get better--at least some of it. :-)

      about 4 years ago
    • Loafer's Avatar
      Loafer

      Thanks for the responses. It feels like an out of body experience. I used to run up stairs, walk rapidly and have a lot of energy. Now, it's exhausting to climb steps and I'm turning the treadmill down for a slow walk. Don't like this one bit!!

      about 4 years ago
    • nobrand's Avatar
      nobrand

      I think it does. I look like an elderly fetus at 29 :) It treats us all a bit differently, and it gave me quite a few wrinkles, a gaunt face, and an overall aged appearance/stature.

      I do think some of the effects can be reversed over time with good diet and exercise, especially as your face fills in and health returns!

      about 4 years ago
    • Nomadicme's Avatar
      Nomadicme

      I read somewhere taking chemo is the equivalent of 10 extra years. My experience, I went into early menopause, 10 years earlier than my biological prediction (when my mom went into menopause). I've gained some weight, but my body looks way worse than the predicted weight loss (chemo? Certainly Tamoxifen seems to take away lean muscle mass).
      In my recent worries with this, I came across the story of a woman that started getting in shape after 55, and today being 72 or so she has a leaner body than I ever did! So anything is possible. All over the place you can read that exercise is the fountain of youth. For body health, brain health.
      Now, back to chemo. While on chemo your red blood cells counts do go down tremendously, and that is directly tied to energy. Soonish after you finish chemo these counts will go up, and you'll feel more energetic. In my case, depression also made me feel very sluggish.
      The times during chemo that I felt very energetic were when I got prednisone and other steroids. I took advantage of that and walked a lot.

      about 4 years ago
    • Peroll's Avatar
      Peroll

      I keep blaming my male pattern baldness and grey hair (beard) on my oncologist. When I first started chemo I asked for the kind that gave me a mohawk but instead I got the oppisite, male pattern baldness. I do feel alot older then when I started my journey 8 1/2 years ago but then I am alot older so I would be hard pressed to know how much is chemo and how much is time. Say maybe some one can invent a way for me to go back in time and not get cancer so I can compare. I would gladly volunteer for that experiment, any one else with me????

      about 4 years ago
    • Carol-Charlie's Avatar
      Carol-Charlie

      I was 62 when diagnosed... the puffy eyes, fatigue, body aches, poor stamina, loss of muscle tone were a result of chemo killing cells in your body... Cancer Cells... and sometimes our feet and fingers get numb and/or ache, My oncologist even warned that my fingernails could come out,when I told him 'my fingernails hurt!'... That thought grossed me out.. so I kept them very short and used Sally Hanson nail stregthener. The oncologist had given me steroids to prevent nausea... it did. I blew up like a little balloon... (little may be the wrong adjective here). Keep on trudging, limping or being wheeled around. Seven years later, I danced at my grandson's wedding... held to great grand children and look pretty much myself... Take the treatment, do the meds they suggest... kill the cancer... THEN Start to exercise and your real self will show up again.

      about 4 years ago
    • Crash's Avatar
      Crash

      I love "Nobrand"'s answer. I was 21 when diagnosed and in pretty good shape, I'm 58 now and in better muscle shape than ever, except for aerobically. I'm now able to add some muscle to my body. I have a great doctor who told me that I have "megacytosis". She says that a LOT of chemo patients have it. It means that the red blood cells get unusually large which makes it harder for them to transport oxygen. It's caused by chemo.

      I like to think that since the chemo slowed down my metabolism, my body aged more slowly. You look like crud going through chemo, and you get older which will include the symptoms you mentioned, after chemo you can slowly improve.

      about 4 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      I was extremely fortunate to look very young for a very long time. However about nine months before I was diagnosed with cancer I developed all the things you described. At that point my friends and family were were urging me to see a doctor. And yes those symptoms got worse during chemo. The nurses explained it to me this way there is a war going on in my body and chemo was actually using a scorched earth policy or as we say here in wildfire country backburning. So cancer and chemo were both doing the same thing. It was a little more difficult for me because I had radiation treatments at the same time as chemo. (yup they would start the chemo infusions then roll me down to radiation and zap me then back to the chemo suite to finish the infusions), so I really didn't know what was caused by the radiation, the chemo, or the cancer. Surgery was the last procedure so I didn't even begin to recover to recover until nine months later. But I did recover some things came back better than others, my hair came back thicker than it had ever been. My advice is to treat your simptoms as if they were just symptoms. Take care of your skin and teeth. Keep up your normal health schedule as much as possible.

      about 4 years ago
    • storknurse's Avatar
      storknurse

      I recently read online that walking on land or in a warm pool and using very light free weights are good for keeping your muscles in better condition during chemo and radiation. I can't remember which of the many sites I follow had this but it makes sense. As cells die some exercise helps the muscles release the accumulating 'debris' ' and promotes lymphatic drainage which also removes the toxins and debris.

      about 4 years ago
    • Terri's Avatar
      Terri

      Yes, I believe it ages you ten years each go round. I ache, and I look a lot older. I still have active cancer, so that might be the reason. It comes with the territory.

      about 4 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      Like BoiseB, I had a surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation and the experiences can only be likened to torture. My hair, which I did not lose, went from the darkest brown to skunk black and white (dirty grey) in less than 6 months. It took me over 5 months of recovery time before I could even consider getting myself back in shape (did not yet know there were two other problems). Recovery, for me, meant bed rest, dragging myself out of bed and into a shower, and so forth with an occasional brief night on the town and sparse shopping trips for necessities.

      My first day back at the gym lasted two whole minutes. I use henna in my hair. The ceiling no longer matches the now sparce carpet, ya know? I did not ever reach the activity level I had prior to getting de-cancered. As I've mentioned, cancer was but one of later discovered other problems.

      I wish you a lot of luck. Keep determined.

      about 4 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      Like BoiseB, I had a surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation and the experiences can only be likened to torture. My hair, which I did not lose, went from the darkest brown to skunk black and white (dirty grey) in less than 6 months. It took me over 5 months of recovery time before I could even consider getting myself back in shape (did not yet know there were two other problems). Recovery, for me, meant bed rest, dragging myself out of bed and into a shower, and so forth with an occasional brief night on the town and sparse shopping trips for necessities.

      My first day back at the gym lasted two whole minutes. I use henna in my hair. The ceiling no longer matches the now sparce carpet, ya know? I did not ever reach the activity level I had prior to getting de-cancered. As I've mentioned, cancer was but one of later discovered other problems.

      I wish you a lot of luck. Keep determined.

      about 4 years ago
    • Onoi11's Avatar
      Onoi11

      With chemo my hair seemed to go on a fast track to a soft gray in front. I actually prefer it to its original medium/dark brown color. I do wonder about the chemicals in hair coloring products and their effects on our already compromised bodies.

      about 4 years ago
    • LisaLathrop's Avatar
      LisaLathrop

      No more wrinkles here but puffiness for sure! And, when my hair grew back....I had no more grey! Hooray! The lack of muscle tone took some time. Check out your local YMCA - I participated in a Livestrong program there which was a small group of cancer patients in any place in their treatment or remission. One on one help from personal trainers got me moving again....increasing flexibility, balance and stamina is their goal. We met 2x per week and it was a 90 day program. It is FREE and they also offer a family membership as part of the program so that your spouse, kids, etc can work out with you as well. Some participants even came with their caregivers. It was a godsend and really got me on a path to good health again. Don't let your muscles get atrophied!! It is a long and hard road to come back from. Good luck!

      about 4 years ago
    • myb's Avatar
      myb

      I walked most days during chemo for 40 minutes, but that was way easier then trying to do anything after chemo. I almost feel worse after chemo with side effects like neuropathy and fatigue. My muscles scream at me like a day later when I try to do work outside. Mind you I did stuff outside during chemo without much pain. Whenever I go for a walk, the beginning is always slow until I work the kinks out of my system. But then when I get home and have to climb stairs, my legs scream at me because different muscles. I tried Neurontin for neuropathy but didn't really help and was making me more tired during the day so I stopped after 2 weeks.

      So I am still at "Take each Day" mode, but accept that as the price for being cancer free.

      about 4 years ago
    • journeyspath's Avatar
      journeyspath

      I have been told that chemo pushes you farther into menopause. I did not have night sweats or hot flashes so bad that I was soaked. Now I do. I have finished my 6 weeks of chemo and radiation about 4 weeks ago. The hot flashes and night sweets are still going strong.

      about 4 years ago
    • Charlieb's Avatar
      Charlieb

      I had the puffy eyes and bags under them. Poor stamina and loss of muscle tone I think is just part of chemo. Most of that has gone away after 5 months and I have really pushed myself on exercise. I like Peroll' comment about mail pattern baldness. I used to have thick hair. Since we didn't get the results we wanted from transplant I told my oncologist he owes me some hair!

      about 4 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      Yes, Onoi11, the hair products are slow killers, IMHO as well as in the opinion of the good folks at the Environmental Working Group.

      The first time I did my hair I thought I was going to die. I'd used 'regular' stuff which had ammonia in it and it completely took my breath away. I had to dash outside to get any air at all. End of 'regular' product use.

      The healthy food store revealed some better options but they still have negative components.

      the best option of all, I found, was this thousands of years old hair color saver that even the way back ancient Egyptians used to keep a color up top on their crown of glory.

      about 4 years ago
    • HeidiJo's Avatar
      HeidiJo

      Are you still in treatment? I struggled with all of the above, and expected to bounce back quickly; I didn't. I think the onef thing anybody neglected to tell me is how long the road back from chemo is. I am 2 1/2 years from my last treatment, and I have found a "new normal" I am pretty much back to my old self, I do find that I still tire more easily than I used to, but I have my strenght back. It takes time, and patience

      about 4 years ago
    • grandmafran's Avatar
      grandmafran

      Chemo can make your skin appear dehydrated and if you lose weight during the process, it can appear drawn and shallow. Drink lots of water and eat healtfully. I was low on potassium and magnesium. Started taking a mult-vitamin each day. Rest is critical. Things will mellow out for you as time goes on. Go to Bobbi Browns at a major dept. store and they will help you with the right moisturizers and tricks to brighten your skin. Most important of all, don't forget to smile.

      about 4 years ago
    • chelle51's Avatar
      chelle51

      it's been 4 and half years, still very dry skin, my feet are so dry they crack, fatigue, puffy eyes, body aches, poor stamina, loss of muscle tone, my toenails and finger nails have only now begun to grow. No it doesn't go away. I've aged at least 10 years. I had invasive ductal carcinoma, 4 months of chemo and 33 radiation treatments.

      about 4 years ago
    • StamPurr's Avatar
      StamPurr

      OMG, yes!! Chemo but me into complete menopause and I don't know if it is the chemo or the instant menopause or the combination, but I look 10 years older. Dry skin, wrinkly, uneven skin tone, lack of energy. Before this "adventure" I was 52, but looked younger. I had both my kids late in life (32 and 35) but was never confused with their grandmother until this past month. 6 months of chemo and now I've had 2 people mistake me for my daughters grandmother! I want to be Mom again. Talk about innocent but hurtful comments. made me cry

      over 3 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      StamPurr Since this question was first asked, I have had a return of my cancer and a new cancer. My son came to help me. So he took both me and my 92 year old mother (she does not look her age) to Dr appointments. The receptionist mistook me for my mother :)

      over 3 years ago
    • Tneg1's Avatar
      Tneg1

      I was dx at 46 years old. I am now 50. I was never ill. I got the flu a couple of times. I take vitamins and supplemental protein, omegas, super B complex, etc.-always have. In four years chemical menopause secondary to chemo has aged me ten to 15 years easily. I am an athlete cycler/runner/tkd and have never looked my age...( there is no way to say that without sounding like a ditz-seriously i'm not being a self-absorbed moron) My skin on my face and neck are saggy now. The skin on my legs is crackly and dry no matter how much straight vaseline or Keri oil I use. I cannot build muscle mass (which is really XXX me off) I have zero sex drive. My hair and nails are dry and zero shine in hair, straw-like and even when I trim my hair it looks wispy on the ends. My immune system is XXX--I've had hospital admissions for e-coli multiple times for uti/ kidney infections and sometimes, after being cultured from head to toe, no one can tell me why I spike 105* temps out of the blue in a matter of minutes. Triple neg or not, my doctor is against any hormone therapy. Clearly I don't want to be stupid and cause myself to grow cancer. I am grateful to be alive considering what nasty beast TNBC is known to be. BUT-- I have read in multiple sources about bio-replacement hormone therapy which 'sounds' like something to investigate further. That being said, I don't want to be the patient who doctor shops until I get the answer I'm wanting. I actually have a significant amount of guilt for resenting the toll chemo/rads have taken on my body and mind. Wow, guess I needed to unload. The madness above loops through my thoughts almost daily. Sometimes I just think I am crazy and should just accept becoming 'Sea Hag' but it runs against the grain of every fiber in my body.

      about 3 years ago
    • Gilded's Avatar
      Gilded

      I just finished chemo last month and def feel and look haggard. Puffy eyes, puffy face especially. I also had Lupron shots while undergoing chemo to protect my fertility and it totally shut down my hormonal system. With no estrogen in my body I feel like I've lost that "glow" I used to have. I'm assuming Tamoxifen will produce the same results. Yesterday I was looking at some recent pics of Kylie Minogue, who went through chemo and 5 years if Tamoxifen. She looks amazing but she said in an interview that it aged her and she's used Botox to freshen up. I've never been one for cosmetic injections but if it keeps me from looking old before my time, it's something I may try.

      about 3 years ago
    • kittycat6's Avatar
      kittycat6

      Dont do it!!!

      over 1 year ago
    • tullerie's Avatar
      tullerie

      I had chemo about 7 years ago. I am finding that my face is much more wrinkled than others my age. I was diagnosed with Osteopina (which is supposed to be common among cancer survivors). I am winded much easier than I used to be, although I am considered to be in very good shape by most. I was told that chemo degrades your heart/mind and they will not come back to their original state no matter how much exercise we do. The Tamoxifen causes women to gain over 20 lbs on average. I felt like the chemo was well worth it, yet it is not without its price. I am trying to fight it every day and keep my condition as good as it can be!!!

      over 1 year ago

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