How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Please feel free to read, share your thoughts, your stories and connect with others!
User avatar
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:19 am

How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby conan » Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:00 pm

I have question for those that have been through a course of chemotherapy....How long does it take to feel better after chemo is over? I had my last round on Dec. 31, 2008 and of course was happy to be done! I am wondering when I might start to regain some energy and start to feel like my old self again?

Also, I am quite anxious about recurrence, does this get better with time or will I continue to be a nervous wreck wondering when the other shoe will drop?
Stage IIIC Colon Cancer dx: May 08
Sigmoid Colon Resection June 08
9 Rounds Folfox Aug 08
recurrence June 2010
mets to lungs and abdomen Aug 2011
52 years old, 3 kids 28/24twins

Posts: 426
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:29 pm

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby Dori » Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:16 pm

I think it can vary a lot. I finished chemo about a month before you did and while I'm feeling better as time goes on, I am definitely not back to normal yet. I've heard a few people say they felt better almost right away, but I don't think they are the majority.

I've seen people post on this board that the worry about recurrence lessens over time.

I'm trying to distract myself from worrying so much (not successfully the last few days). I'm thinking that even if I have a recurrence, I'd regret spending all my 'healthy' time thinking about cancer.

Good luck. I noticed you were diagnosed just one day after I was.

47 years old
Stage IIIC, high grade signet ring, 14 out of 18 nodes affected
Colon resection 5/15/08
FOLFOX 6/08 - 11/08
Mom to a great 11 (!!) yo girl
Currently NED

Posts: 562
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:06 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby gofisch » Fri Jan 16, 2009 5:35 pm

I finished on the 31st too! Well, I had my disconnect on the 2nd, so we're not exactly twinsies but we're close.

I started feeling better way sooner than I had hoped. I had more energy, a better appetite, less fatigue. Now I've plateaued. I'm so much better, but I'm still not myself. Some people say you never are. And the chemo brain lasts and lasts, they say. And the neuropathy can take months to years. But the good news is, you've got years!
47, Mom
Rectal tumor (stage III) 1/31/08
6 weeks radiation/5Fu
LAR w/ loop ileo May/08
Folfox 7/08-1/09
Done with chemo 1/2/09!!!
Reversal 10/8/09, ileus, blockage, resection, home after 30 days!
4 years NED!

Posts: 6659
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:24 am
Facebook Username: Belle Piazza
Location: Battle Ground, Washington

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby NWgirl » Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:01 pm

I finished chemo in mid September 2008. By the time I went in for my ileo take down surgery (November 5th I think) I was feeling pretty good. I should note that my last 2 chemo rounds were Xeloda, which is a whole lot easier than the full FOLFOX treatment I had for the first 10 rounds; so that was part of it. The surgery has taken a lot out of me and I'm still working on getting to some semblance of normal; but as for recovering from chemo - that was really fast.

I had a huge problem with nausea during chemo - but very little neuropathy; so neuropathy, thank heavens, has not been an ongoing problem for me. As for chemo brain, it does feel like it's getting better; though I was pretty forgetful pre-cancer anyway!
Belle - "Don't Retreat - Reload"DX 10/07 Stage III Rectal
Surgery 11/07; 27 of 38 nodes
Perm Colostomy 8/11
12/10 recurrence lungs & LN's
VATS Jan 2011
Radiation Oct 2013
Chemo for Life
2012 Colondar Model

Posts: 293
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2007 1:35 pm
Location: Vienna Virginia

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby sean » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:48 pm

It took about 2-3 months before I physically felt normal. The neuropathy in the fingers went away after 8 months. I still have it in my toes about 15 months later, but I've gotten used to it and it seems to be very slowly getting better. Mentally I thought I was back to normal from my chemo brain in a few weeks and started work again against the advice of my nurse. In retrospect she was right and it took about 6 months before I was truly mentally sharp again - I'm still finding things I messed up that I did in those 6 months.
42 - dx Jan 3 2007 stage IIA colon
9 FOLFOX4, 3 5-FU completed Sep 24 2007
Blockage symptoms, Negative Colonoscopy, Positive PET Oct 2009
2nd Resection Oct 2009 - Suspected Local Recurrence was Negative

Posts: 388
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 1:28 am
Location: Calif.

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby Hawaii » Sat Jan 17, 2009 3:53 am

I finished Folfox in Dec 07 and my husband and I went to the Bahamas in March. Exercise and eating healthy helped alot I think. I still have pretty numb toes and alittle numbness in my fingers, but you just get used to it.
Dx March '07, transverse resection done
stage III, 27 lymph nodes removed- 1 positive
Surgery to remove the 1 positive node
finished chemo Dec. '07, Folfox, Oxal.
NED!! 2017

Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:05 am
Location: CT

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby pfzzle24 » Sat Jan 17, 2009 1:25 pm

I finished chemo in July 06. I can honestly say it took until the spring of 07 for me to have the same endurance that I had prior to chemo. I love working in my gardens and yard and just didn't have the energy. I tried to rake leaves in fall of 06 and after 15 minutes I was pooped! I worked throughout my last two courses of chemo and was tired at night. I would crash before 9p.m and get up at 5 a.m. for work. I talked to my dr. about it and he did say it could take up to a year to not be so fatigued.
Dx 12/05 Stage III CC
1/18 LN
Drug trial 2/06
Chemo 3/06-7/06
12/06 bowel obstruction surg.
8/08 bowel obstruction
NED 10/06
NED 11/08

alpaca farmer

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby alpaca farmer » Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:35 pm

My experience was almost 10 years ago.....will be 10 years April 16, 2009.
It took about as long as I was on chemo to feel "normal" again and the "chemo
brain" lasted quite a bit longer. My ability to spell even simple words was
really impaired during chemo and for many months after. I did the L5FU for
about 6 weeks then went to CPT11- total of 11 months and worked full time
during the chemo. Mine was in the appendix with oncologist calling it a stage
4 at one point. (I did 5 weeks consecutive chemo and one week off for the
11 months.) However, I believe that was completely incorrect since the
folks at NCI (National Cancer Institute) said the surgical margins were clean
and mine had been encapsulated in a huge pus pocket from a hysterectomy
one year and one day earlier. I had asked that surgeon to remove the
appendix due to odd feelings in that region - like a tiny rubber band being
pulled and released. He said the appendix looked fine and insurance paid
better for a separate procedure! Half or more of dealing with colon cancer
is being able to trust the medical community with which we are forced to

Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 5:29 pm
Location: New York

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby Mark25830 » Sat Jan 17, 2009 9:44 pm

I finished in mid sptember and began feeling better in late October. I started working out again and eating much healthier around then . As of now, after constant exercise and eating better, I have much more energy from late October. People I work with have noticed that too. I gained 40lbs during chemo and so far have taken 22lbs off. I'm sure it's different for everyone, but a healthy diet and exercise can't hurt.
2/15/08 Diagnosed
38 yo

User avatar
Posts: 221
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 3:23 pm
Location: Madtown, WI

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby brigita » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:36 pm

I finished 8 FOLFOX tx in mid-August '08 and have only started to feel "like myself" a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, while my energy and attitude have returned to semi-normal, the neuropathy continues to be pretty awful (affecting my fingertips and legs/feet from the knees down)...but that's another story.
Stage III rectal @ 33, 4.5mo postpartum
Ovary transpo: 12/07
33 tx rad+Xeloda: 2/08
Lap LAR 0/11 +nodes: 3/08
8 FOLFOX tx: 8/08
Ileo reversal: 9/08
CIPN since 10/08
Normal uterus + lame ovaries = infertile
26.2 11/13

User avatar
Posts: 9458
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:00 pm

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby CRguy » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:00 pm

My last chemo was Dec. 28 / 07, and I have had ileo takedown and lots of follow up since then. Currently NED, back to work, Palm Springs for Christmas '08.....AND I still do not feel back to "normal" whatever the heck that is ??

Not trying to be negative, and I have had a "good" cancer ride so far, but still lots of things to work out with regards to energy, emotions, personal problems, work, and life.

I take my inspiration from all my "mentors" here, especially BradyR and AngelaW........

Life what it is. We just deal with it.

How long does it take to feel better after chemo?
How long have you got ??
How long have you given yourself ??

Life what it is, and it will let you know when your time is, to feel better.

Until then, keep on fighting the good fight.

Last edited by CRguy on Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Caregiver x 3
Stage IV A rectal cancer/lung met
10 Year survivor
my life is an ongoing totally randomized UNcontrolled experiment with N=1 !
Review of my Journey so far

Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:03 pm

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby marian » Sun Jan 18, 2009 1:09 am

For me, most things returned at a reasonable pace. I had it all, neuropathy, fatigue, chemo brain. The fact that I was NED and could go out and hug long distance friends drove me forward. I worked continually on my stamina with projects in the garden. But it did take time. Most of the neuropathy left in 6 months, there's a small 5% remaining that is seldom noticed, just that first step in the morning. Stamina, that progressed as my weight returned. I had hit a low of 87 lbs. I didn't expect my muscular strength to return so easily, but it did. I'm still a slight woman, now 105 lbs, who can easily lift 60 lbs. Chemo brain, that took longer than the rest. I worried and wondered if I would ever be myself again, the thought process that I had always been able to count on. It did lift, of course leaving that little 5%, but naturally, it might just be age. I think I was 16 months post chemo, 14 months post surgery when it finally happened. The clarity of my own thoughts was refreshing. Worried about a recurrence, that never leaves. It takes many shapes and forms, most of the time, I just feel downright convinced that it will never happen again. These days, these precious days that I am healthy, should not be squandered over things beyond my control. The fact is, cancer, getting it, is beyond our control. How we treat it, how we live with it, and how we live after it. That we can control.
1/06 Diagnosis Stage III Anal Cancer
2/06 Chemo
6/06 Colostomy
NED ever since

Posts: 1997
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 2:07 pm
Location: Forest Hills New York

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby helen098 » Sun Jan 18, 2009 8:11 pm

I read somewhere that it can take up to twice as long as your treatment to feel "normal"
I finished chemo in Jan 07 and by may/june I felt much better, it was slow going and every few weeks I would feel like I could tackle some thing else. It takes time and I know you want everything to go away right away but it takes time
stage 3A surgery 6/6/6 finished chemo jan 07
11 5FU/12 Levcouorin/10oxaliplatim
port removed jun 07
anal fistula surgery oct 05 may 07 feb 08 sep 08 jun 09

User avatar
Posts: 741
Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:13 pm
Facebook Username: Wayne Whitaker
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby wwroam » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:33 pm

I finished chemo 30/01/08. I was worn out ( but still working), had lost my taste, appetite and a good deal of weight.
One month after chemo finished my taste and appetite had substantially returned and I was regaining weight. By May my neuropathy had substantially diminished but progress has been slow since. By midMay I was on Bali hiking all around Ubud, and mid December hiking the high trail in Tiger Leaping Gorge. My hands are fairly good, but my feet , well, I just got used to it. They are never painful. As for the recurrence thing. I do what I can do, diet and exercise, the rest, its out of my hands. I took an unusual approach in my attitude to recurrence as well. I now know enough to know that in all probability, treatment is available if it occurs. That'll do me.
Stage 3a DX 25/06/07
Folfox complete 30/01/08
7 years NED
Port scheduled for removal 8/02/10 Gone.
PSA .54 No prostate problems
Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic
SO diagnosed CC Stage IV Liver Mets 23/03/15

User avatar
Joanne 814
Posts: 871
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 4:56 pm
Facebook Username: Joanne Flynn Hoerrner
Location: Farmington, CT

Re: How long does it take to feel better after chemo?

Postby Joanne 814 » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:26 am

I finished in Aug 08. Had bad neuropathy,and nauseau and diahhrea. I would say around thanksgiving i started to really feel good (8 weeks or so).

Now my hands and feet have gotten better, and the nauseau and diahhrea is all styaightened out. I still havent been able to walk alot, but do here and there. Finally feel up to big activities, like doing errands and stopping at many stores. I have been shoveling the driveway. Starting to get some speed back in my walking. My balance is improving.

I was told that the 6 months after treatment, your body is trying to even out and things should be improving. You will feel better, I didnt believe anyone, that i would feel good and get all my energy back. But i do!

As far as reoccurance, i dont think there is a single one of us who isnt whacked out over it. You do what you can to stay calm. I just had all the post testing done, and am clean for my 1st year, but that doesnt mean I wont panic each year when I get tested. You dont get used to it. It comes with the beast!


Age: 51
Dx: Nov 07 @ age 43
Stage IIIC, RCa
Colon Resection: Nov 07, 4 of 27 LN
Chemo/Radiation: 28 treatments w/constant 5FU (Jan-Feb 08)
Chemo: Folfox, 12 cycles (Mar-Aug 08) DONE 8-8-08
CT Scan 1-09 NED

Return to “Colon Talk - Colon cancer (colorectal cancer) support forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 39 guests