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Ice packs for chemo?

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ClareCo
ClareCo Member Posts: 12

Hi everyone; I keep reading snippets about folks icing hands and feet during chemo. Can someone explain when and how this is done? I've been wading through the chemo posts but can't find an actual explanation. I did find a link someone posted to ice-pack/socks and ordered some. What do people use for their hands? Do you just show up for chemo with a freezer bag with your ice packs in it? (Will I look like some kind of crackpot? LOL) I start chemo May 2, but I'm so nervous I'm trying to figure out as much as I can now. Thanks in advance for any info.

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  • specialk
    specialk Member Posts: 9,227
    edited April 2018
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    What is your chemo regimen? People ice for different reasons - some for nail issues and some for neuropathy prevention. I am less convinced about the neuropathy prevention as that is more of a nervous system issue which I am not sure localized icing can prevent, and I took some supplements to accomplish that. I iced because taxanes are known for nail lifting and loss. I used bags of frozen peas and brought them myself in a small cooler. Nobody else was icing, but I didn't care. I started icing 10 minutes before the Taxotere was started, and continued until 10 minutes afterward. I placed a bag of frozen peas over each foot on the top so it had contact with my toenails, and then held two bags of frozen peas in my lap on a beach towel and dug my fingernails in so the peas covered the fingernails. My oncologist was aware that I was icing - didn't have any opinion regarding effectiveness, my center did not offer icing supplies or assistance, but many centers do.

  • ClareCo
    ClareCo Member Posts: 12
    edited April 2018
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    Thank you, SpecialK! I am doing 4 x TC, so there will be Taxane involved. The fingernail issue sounds like a bummer, so I think it's off to the grocery store for some frozen peas! Stay strong!

  • Hope-Faith-Love
    Hope-Faith-Love Member Posts: 1
    edited April 2018
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    I did my first round of TX & Cytoxan yesterday. I iced my feet & toes on the ride in. Also took a bin my feet fit in comfortably & when TX started I put my socks on & feet in the bucket of ice water. I brought 2 round plastic containers from home for my nail to soak (wore my fuzzy pink moisturizer gloves from Ulta) it was uncomfortable at first but I downloaded Netflix comedians & that kept me going. All my research it can save nails & not cause neuropathy. Hope this helps. Good luck

  • Djt
    Djt Member Posts: 176
    edited April 2018
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    same here....I start April 24, and asked nurse about,...she acted surprised, and said she has never seen anyone ice. Hows do I know when to start, or will I have 10 15 minutes before infusion due to prepping? Just lay bags of peas over hands? I know I'm bringing ices for mouth, as I don't want mouth sores! Any hints?

  • Djt
    Djt Member Posts: 176
    edited April 2018
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    hope faith, so the staff has no problem with this extra gear and hand s. in icy water while they administer? I feel like an odd ball here

  • specialk
    specialk Member Posts: 9,227
    edited April 2018
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    djt - I received my chemo regimen in order, Taxotere, then Carboplatin, then Herceptin. I only iced during Taxotere but because I also received infused pre-meds (Pepcid, Benadryl, Dexamethasone, Aloxi, and an oral Tylenol) which took about 30-45 mins so my husband got the towel and frozen peas ready so that I started icing about 10 minutes before the end of the pre-meds, and was already icing before the T started. My onc nurses had no problem with my icing and there was plenty of room for them to maneuver around and start the meds with the IV pump. I used extra large bags of frozen peas and a towel for the floor and one for my lap.I also brought ice chips in a big Tervis tumbler to hold in my mouth.

  • nancyhb
    nancyhb Member Posts: 235
    edited April 2018
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    I was less concerned about my nails, and more concerned about permanent neuropathy. I bought reusable flexible ice packs and placed them on the tops and bottoms of my feet, inside big wool socks. I took extra packs in a cooler and changed them every hour or so. Not gonna lie, it was uncomfortable for several minutes while my toes and feet hit “frostbite” status. I started icing a few minutes before treatment started, and continued for several minutes after it ended. I did this for both Taxol and Taxotere. My infusion center had freeze-mitts for my hands - again, uncomfortable for a few minutes but the you’re frozen and it doesn’t hurt. I have minimal neuropathy in a couple fingers, and my toes/feet are in good shape. It’s worth the discomfort and inconvenience (and no one looks at you twice, don’t worry!) to not be dealing with painful, debilitating neuropathy.
  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293
    edited April 2018
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    There is research on the benefits of icing for preventing neuropathy with certain chemo regimens

    https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/110/2/141/44...

    & http://www.sciedu.ca/journal/index.php/jst/article...


  • Djt
    Djt Member Posts: 176
    edited April 2018
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    specialk...what nutritional supplements did you feel helped with avoiding neuropathy? Thank you❗❗

  • specialk
    specialk Member Posts: 9,227
    edited April 2018
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    30grams of powdered L-Glutamine taken in 10g doses 3 times a day dissolved in a cold non-acidic drink, one capsule of Acetyl L-Carnitine, and 1 capsule of Vitamin B6. From the outset I had neuropathy that resolved before the next infusion 21 days later, but by the mid-way point it did not - this was fingertips, bottoms of feet and my tongue. By 90 days after the last of six chemos all neuropathy was gone, no problems since. Some docs stopped approving Acetyl L-Carnitine because mega-doses in one study seemed to intensify symptoms, but I took much smaller doses - just the usual recommended daily allowance. My understanding is that the body can only utilize a minimal dosing.

  • Djt
    Djt Member Posts: 176
    edited April 2018
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    Special k thanks for the info, I have added the vit b6 as well as sublingual b12 for a long time now, I may add the others you mentioned scary stuff. I don't know how any of us deal.....I am bringing ice tho and frozen grapes.

  • Djt
    Djt Member Posts: 176
    edited April 2018
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    Nancy, thanks,.....got the ice ready to go tomorrow I think it will be worth it.

  • jaboo
    jaboo Member Posts: 368
    edited July 2018
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    I think I will try icing too. I'm scared of neuropathy.

    But I think I may be the only ine in history of my cancer centre, so I wonder how the oncologist (I'll ask beforehand of course) and the nurses will react... I live in Centr. Europe, things are sometimes very different here.

    Has anyone tried using those packs with gel inside, like the ones used to alleviate back pain? they can be frozen or heated... I wonder how long would they last... And how do I bring them in to last until i. v. starts... any experiences?

  • CallieGirl
    CallieGirl Member Posts: 10
    edited July 2018
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    I have used Cryo-max ice packs for all my Taxol infusions (9 of 12 so far). I purchased 4 of the medium size and bring them along in a small soft side cooler. What works the best for me is to place my feet on another flat ice pack covered by a light towel and then put a single cryo-max lengthwise over my toes. For my hands, I fold the packs and place in a neoprene pouch (repurposed iPad or notebook computer cases). I then put my hands into these.

    I don’t usually have to replace the foot pack, but the hand packs seem to warm up a bit and I will either switch out to the unused fourth ice pack or just slide my fingers under the fabric covering to keep them cold.

    I start 15 minutes prior to infusion and try to continue to 15 minutes post infusion (90 minutes total). The initial 15 minutes is the hardest as that is when it really hurts. After that, my digits are mostly numb. I will pull my hands out to grab a drink a few times or just to move my fingers. One treatment I did not remove them at all and I fear I got a minor case of “frost nip” as my fingers and toes were swollen for about 48 hours.

    I also am taking Vit B6 and using a cold laser on my fingers and toes. I painted my nails with clear Acquarella nail polish that is water based and has UV protectant in it. I have had intermittent tingling in hands that so far revolves within a day or two and all my nails look great. The oncology nurses and my MO took notes since I am one of the only patients icing. They have had a few try it before with dipping into an ice water bath but they said that no one would continue doing that as it was too painful

    image

  • jaboo
    jaboo Member Posts: 368
    edited July 2018
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    CallieGirl thank you so much for your invaluable info!

    I've read various tips like bowls with water with ice or mittens with dry ice... but these seem difficult to do on my own and also under weird looks... your way seems quick and easy to do with no danger of water spilled all over the floor...

    I have purchased a soft picnic pouch that is not too large, but I think that even my both feet will fit in. so I think I will bring 4-6 iced soft gel packs, use two for hands and the rest for the feet. I have yet to find something to put the hand-packs in... thanks for the tip with ipad pouches

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293
    edited July 2018
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    For your hands, you can also use thick fabric oven mitts to hold the ice packs. That's probably what I'll do. I'm just starting to ice for the last 3 treatments of taxol as I've started developing some neuropathy. Nobody ices for this at my center either - they only do it taxotere and only to 'save the nails'. They don't believe it does anything for neuropathy even though I found 2 recent studies about it - (& I'm in Canada and one of the studies is Canadian). I'm expecting them to roll their eyes at me when I come in with my stuff on Thurs but at this point I don't care.

    My dh is there to help me, he'll swap out my ice packs etc so it won't be any more work for the staff. I sort of suspect that's their main objection honestly. If they have proof that it works and is worth doing, then the staff will have to help do it...

  • Melrosemelrose
    Melrosemelrose Member Posts: 607
    edited July 2018
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    JaBoo- for the hands, try neoprene wine bags ( one for each hand) or neoprene covers for 32 ounce Nalgene bottles. You can also try getting a small Neoprene lunch bag and place both of your hands along with the ice/gel pouches. If you are concerned about the gel packs defrosting too quickly, you may want to bring some small Ziplock bags that you can fill with ice from the infusion center. Always good to have a back up plan.

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293
    edited July 2018
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    CallieGirl - you're beautiful!

    How far along in your taxols are you? What is the cold laser thing you're doing & where do you get that done?

  • CallieGirl
    CallieGirl Member Posts: 10
    edited July 2018
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    Awww, Moth, you are too kind. I actually thought about cropping off my head since I am pretty private, but I thought that you ladies would certainly know and appreciate all we are going through :)

    I have completed 9 of 12 weekly Taxols. Almost done!

    The cold laser, also called Low Level Laser Therapy, or more recently Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) is just now coming into popular use in the US. It has been used for decades in Europe. I am a veterinarian and have one for my practice, so I put it to good use while I am on leave of absence. PTs and Chiropractors are the biggest users of laser that I know of outside of vet med. I believe the Cleveland Clinic has also started using it.

    Here is a review article that discusses it:

    Robijns, Jolien & Censabella, Sandrine & Bulens, Paul & Maes, Annelies & Noé, L & Brosens, M & Van den Bergh, L & Claes, Stefan & Mebis, Jeroen. (2017). The role of photobiomodulation therapy in the care of cancer patients: review of the literature. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323303081_The_role_of_photobiomodulation_therapy_in_the_care_of_cancer_patients_review_of_the_literature

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293
    edited July 2018
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    Thanks CallieGirl for the study link. I found one PT nearish me who has it ...along with a big disclaimer that they won't use it on cancer patients. Okay then lol...

    I really hope it works for you! Sounds like a promising avenue of new treatments.

    Only 2 more to go for me. I did the icing on Thurs and it wasn't too bad - just a pita for my dh as he seemed to be having to constantly adjust things for me or fuss over me & pass me my drink etc as I was useless with my hands in the giant oven mitts.

    This time last week I was already experiencing discomfort but so far it's just the small bit of baseline numbness so I'm happy so far.

  • jaboo
    jaboo Member Posts: 368
    edited September 2018
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    I started my Taxol yesterday and did the cooling. Very similar as CalieGirl suggested above.

    During the icing a thought suddendly struck me - can't it make some damage to my hand on the operated side? I'm doing chemo adjuvantly, so I had lymph nodes removed. Can the icing provoke lympedema????

    edited for typos

  • CPB1167
    CPB1167 Member Posts: 3
    edited September 2018
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    Hello,

    So are you putting the ice product directly on your skin? Or putting something like a piece of light weight fabric or paper towel (?) in between the ice and your skin?

    Thank you so much!


  • jaboo
    jaboo Member Posts: 368
    edited September 2018
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    CPB, no, not directly to your skin! My MO warned about frost bites. I wear thin socks and gloves. I took the gloves off towards the end of i. v. because the ice pack was getting warmer

  • Kitties
    Kitties Member Posts: 2
    edited July 2019
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    I iced to help prevent neuropathy. I bought 4x12 inch cryomax ice packs for soles and palms. Then I got four small packs. You can wrap the straps around the packs to make them stay in place. This meant that I could slide my hands and feet between the two packs to ensure soles, palms, fingers and toes were cold. Then I got some zip lock baggies, taped them to allow the cold packs to slide inside. This kept everything pretty dry. I froze them at home and took them in a cooler to the infusion room. The cryo max stayed cold long enough to last the whole infusion time for the doxorubicin and the cyclophosphamide treatments. I also used ice chips for mouth cooling. There has been some research that shows that icing can help prevent neuropathy and mouth sores.