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Infectious period

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My husband who has secondary brain mets from primary lung cancer ( op removed the lung cancer in Dec), started chemotherapy & immunotherapy ( Keytruda) yesterday. He has it once a week every 3 weeks for 4 sessions. Fortunately, other than fatigue he’s not had any side effects so far.

Along with most of the U.K., I’m desperately in need of a hair cut! As my hairdresser comes to my home could you tell me when my husband is at the least risk of infection during his treatment schedule.

My hairdresser won’t be in the same room as my husband & is very hygiene conscious as her own Mum passed away from cancer. So I know she won’t come to me if she has any bugs or known infection.

Also, having not had any side effects so far, how likely is my husband to get any over the next 3 weeks & after subsequent treatments? 

He will only have the immunotherapy every 6 weeks after the 4 combined treatments subject to scans. The nurses said he wouldn’t have any problems with just the immunotherapy.

Many thanks for your help it’s a horrible time & as I suffer from mental health it’s desperately worrying.

Lorraine - Macmillan

Hi Kernowp,

Thanks for getting in touch. It’s good to hear your husband is coping well with his treatment so far.

Government advice is constantly being updated. Your husband will remain in the highly vulnerable group through-out his treatment, shielding will be lifted from 1st August 2020. However, we would advise checking with his hospital team what their specific advice is for him to follow.

At present the advice is that hairdressers do not work from home due to staying alert and safe (social distancing) remaining in place for everyone. It’s difficult when salons are opening up from 4th July, however guidance for close contact services is clear that mobile services will remain closed. Would it be an option to go to a salon on this occasion until all services resume?

Side-effects from treatment vary from person to person. It is likely that your husband will develop these as his treatment goes on. For some they are minor but for others they can be more severe. Once, the chemotherapy finishes he will need time to recover from the accumulation effect of the chemotherapy. Even when he is only having Keytruda side-effects may develop. His team will be monitoring him each cycle for any issues and side-effects. During chemotherapy the time when the immune system is most vulnerable is days 7-14. This is when there is an increased risk of infection.

It’s natural to feel worried during these unprecedented times. Every Mind Matters have some great advice on ways of managing your mental health and wellbeing.

If you want to chat any of this through with one of the nurses, then give us a call on the support line.

Best wishes and take care

Lorraine -Macmillan Information Nurse Specialist