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Question re: Cancer - Chemotherapy, and keeping household pets.

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Madrone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 12:50 AM
Original message
Question re: Cancer - Chemotherapy, and keeping household pets.
A friend of mine (more than acquaintance, but not bosom buddies) is undergoing chemo for the third time. She had colon cancer first, then a year later found out she had lung cancer. A year after that, lung cancer again. She is now undergoing chemotherapy for the latest bout of lung cancer.

Anyway - I called her a couple of days ago to see if there was anything I could help her out with on a regular basis. I happened to mention cleaning the catbox - only to discover that she's been doing that herself. Everything that makes SENSE to me says there's no way in hell she should be cleaning the catbox - but I guess I don't know for sure.

SO - My question actually has a few parts I guess. Is it really okay for her to be cleaning the catbox? Are there any restrictions regarding how she handles her pets at all?

Also - not pet related but - Anyone with "cancer experience" have any suggestions regarding what other things she may find helpful, tasks to be done, etc?

Thanks :)
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Longhorn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 01:13 AM
Response to Original message
1. I'm allergic to cats so I don't have them any more
but I thought the only risk involving changing the cat box was for pregnant women. You could also ask in the pet group.

If you're this kind to your casual friend, I can imagine how you'd be with your bosom buddies! :yourock:
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Madrone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 01:29 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Yeah - I know about pregnancy, it just seems someone that has a compromised
...immune system .. well, it seems like they shouldn't be DOING that. :)

And thanks - I try to do what I can (in general, for anyone), but it really ain't all that much. Nowhere near enough actually.
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Der Blaue Engel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 01:28 AM
Response to Original message
2. I believe that anyone with weakened immunity is advised not to clean cat boxes
due to toxoplasmosis. I don't think handling the pets is a problem, just the boxes. But don't take my word for it. Google or Wiki probably knows better. ;)
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Madrone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 01:32 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. That;s what I was thinking.
And Google hasn't been much help, believe it or not.
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Der Blaue Engel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 01:54 AM
Response to Reply #4
7. Well, you're in luck, as I am The Queen of Googling

fficial&client=firefox-a" target="_blank">

I think you'll find some good info. for your friend in the first couple of links.

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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 01:36 AM
Response to Original message
5. I don't recall any special restrictions on my grandmother when it came to cats
but they lived on a big lot in a semi-rural area, so her enormous furkid went outside to do his business, chase deer and eat lizards.

But if she's nauseated by the chemo, having somebody else to do that gross chore might help her keep a meal in.
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emilyg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 01:42 AM
Response to Original message
6. When I was going through cancer treatment
I used disposable gloves when cleaning the litter boxes.
She should ask her oncologist.
Treatment left me very tired - I appreciate people who volunteered to go to store for me.
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Flaxbee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 02:07 AM
Response to Original message
8. I don't know about the catbox issue --
but I do know my sister craved certain foods, and was advised against eating anything raw - pretty much had to cook the sh*t out of all foods (bacterial levels).

And she got tired pretty fast - having someone around to run errands, pick up dry cleaning, go to the post office - whatever - really helped her a lot.
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seemunkee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 08:42 AM
Response to Original message
9. Hugs to your friend
Find out what food she can tolerate when she gets her treatment and bring some over. Maybe offer to help with paper work, household cleaning or just visit. If she is not in a support group encourage her to get in one, clinical trials show that people who do so have better survival rates.
She sounds like a fighter and hope she gets some good results this go around.
Is this lung cancer or metastasis from the colon cancer? If its metastasis don't call it lung cancer, its still colon cancer but in her lungs. Different disease, different treatments.
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fight4my3sons Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 09:13 AM
Response to Original message
10. my friend was on some kind of low-grade chemo
for Hep-C and has cats, but I don't know if he cleans the cat boxes or if his wife does. I do know that he handles the cats.
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skater314159 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 10:44 AM
Response to Original message
11. I have an immune disorder that has required chemo...
... and I was advised by my Rheumatologist and Oncologist at the time to NOT clean the litterbox, or handle any sort of pet waste or bodily fluids at all. emilyg's suggestion of using latex disposible surgical gloves is a good one if she absolutely, positively refuses to have someone else do it (and she may feel that way - sometimes just doing simple everyday things is important during Chemo, as it helps you to feel that you haven't given up your life just to recieve treatment). I would say that if she does that, make sure she has TWO gloves on (so that there is no possibility of contamination through a hole or tear in the gloves) during the changing.

I would say that maybe you should help her out by changing the cat-box however, as that can be a nasty and nauseating (as if you need shit to make you MORE nauseated when on Chemo!) experience at any time... you could also be a lifesaver by just cleaning her bathroom for her too. I can't tell you how great it is to have a nice, clean fresh toilet, tub, and sink when you are nauseated and vomiting. (Yeah, this is kinda a gross post) It makes me just feel a little better to be barfing in a clean toilet and then able to take a shower in a clean shower, than to be being sick and feeling I have to clean up after myself on top of it all.

Also, I would recommend you get her some nice Ginger, Mint (Peppermint I like best), and Lavender essential oils and bath products. These can really help you to feel better, and sometimes just having a nice bath waiting for you that smells good and helps you to relax means everything. Also - some Lavender candles or a relaxation pillow made out of washcloths that have lavender inside them can help. I made a relaxation pillow and would take it with me to treatment... since it was a washcloth, I could run it under warm or cold water and just put it on my forehead and face - which is awesome.

It sounds like your friend has a great support network - which is key. Just doing simple things, like I said, can make all the difference, cause it saves you having to do the work when you are tired and sick from the chemo, and it lets you know that people care for you and love you - even when your hair has fallen out, you're too skinny to be pretty, and you just wonder if you should keep going at all.

Peace and Be Well to the both of you!
skater pi
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RFKHumphreyObama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 12:07 PM
Response to Original message
12. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend
My thoughts, prayers, best wishes, good vibes vibes and healing energies in addition to anything else positive I can extend go out to her and to you :hug:

My mother had chemotherapy (albeit a more moderate dosage than the normal cycle) a few years ago and we had a pet at that time. As a general rule we made sure that there was no interaction between my mother and our dog. He was not allowed to sleep in the same room as my parents did anymore and, while he was free to roam around the house, he was discouraged from having any contact with my mother. My dad also took extra precautions to ensure that she was away from any waste products of our dog

My firm personal belief -perhaps influenced by what my mother went through 0is that she should probably refrain from cleaning the catbox -it carries too much of a risk of germ infection. If she lives alone, she needs to get a friend or family member to come and do it. She should also be cautious in dealing with the cat -again if she lives alone then she may have no other alternative -but the cat should probably not be sleeping in the same room as her and she should always wash her hands or take other precautions when handling the cat.

The best thing I think your friend can have is a good support network of people who visit and call her regularly and perhaps also bring her food when she feels unable to make it. One thing I noticed about my mother is that her taste in food changed quite significantly while she was ill. Once a renowned chocoholic, she no longer enjoyed chocolate as the effects of chemotherapy took shape. She could mostly only eat mashed up/liquid stuff and she started certain types of food that she hadn't shown an interest in for years. Every person's food preferences will be different so you'll have to consult with your friend about that. But I think the support network thing is essential -have people who will phone her up on a regular basis, visit her on a regular basis, take her out if she feels like it and whom she can turn to if she needs it. I know my mom was always grateful and deeply appreciative that her friends and relatives were there when she needed it and went above and beyond the call of duty to visit her and boost her spirits when she was going through treatment

Once again, good luck to your friend. I'm so sorry she has to go through this :hug:
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riderinthestorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 12:18 PM
Response to Original message
13. My husband's undergoing chemo right now and he doesn't have any restrictions about animal contact
either with feces or handling (we're farmers with horses, cats, dogs etc.) UNLESS he is neutropenic (which is a fancy way of saying his resistance to infection is low).

If your friend is getting regular bloodwork done, she'll be told when she needs to avoid the litterbox and other potential trouble spots like uncooked food. You can offer to take care of those chores when/if she ever becomes neutropenic but for my husband, keeping to his daily routine keeps him focused (and handling a LOT of manure is a daily issue for us). Your friend may want/need to have as much control over things like taking care of her pets, as a sanity saver during this wild time.

As for stuff that would help my husband/your friend/people who are undergoing chemo, well mostly he's doing great with the chemo but I've spoken with other patients at the hospital when we go, and hear the stories about how the chemo does take it's toll. General fatique is a real problem so for your friend anything that helps to alleviate that and it's cousin: boredom. For my husband, there have been a few times when he's just tired but not sleepy so books, magazines, movies are all helpful for when he just needs to veg. Books on CD can be great while you are waiting for those long infusions (not sure how long her treatments last). Food is ALWAYS welcome! Not having to cook or shop for a meal is a real treat. You can ask if there are any errands you can run for her such as picking up dry cleaning - the little stuff that consumes hours.

You are a great friend for even thinking of all of this. Hugs to you and her and I hope she sails through this.

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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 12:21 PM
Response to Original message
14. i've had chemo -- and had no restrictions pertaining to animals. nt
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mwdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-02-08 12:23 PM
Response to Original message
15. So sorry to hear about your friend.
When I went through chemo, I didn't clean the cat box. I was able to do other things on my "good days" between treatments, but needed help with cooking, cleaning and shopping on my bad days. It left me very tired, too. Hope your friend has success with this latest treatment.
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