The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
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Hubby has pneumonia

I am so worried about Brian at the moment. He has been in hospital with penumonia since last Sunday.

It started with a cough at night, he then had a temperature of 37.3. He was not well enough to get to Guy's, where he had just finished his 2nd course of chemo, so I took him to our local hospital last Friday. They did the blood tests, chest xray etc, said all was ok and sent us home.

On Sunday he again had a temperature so back to local hospital and after waiting for 12 hours (A&E was very busy) they got him a bed. They said that his bloods were ok but the kidney function was not, that he had an infection probably in the chest. He was transferred to the cancer unit and we were then told by the specialist that he has pneumonia. He is being treated with more than one antibiotic, is hardly eating and is very weak and has obviously lost weight. His next chemo was next week but of course will be postponed.

My questions are:

Why did it take so long for pneumonia to be diagnosed?

How long will it be before the antibiotics take effect?

I will, of course be asking the hospital these questions but thought I would sound them out on here.

Has any one else on here had this experience and if so what was the outcome?

So sorry that I have ranted on; any help or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Take care everyone and very best wishes to you all.

Sandra x

14 Replies

Hi Sandra

I'm sorry to hear you're facing these problems and I'm aftraid I don't have the answers. I was fortunate enough not have too many additional problems when I was ill.

There may well be ligical answers to your questions, but you certainly need to ask them and know just what's going on.

Best wishes, Bill


Thank you Bill.x


Hi Sandra,

So sorry this is happening to your Brian. I think it does seem very unreasonable that he was left waiting in a+e where infection is rife, I would definately question this action.

I started my Chemo on 31st of July and ended up at a+e on the following Friday with a fever of 37.3 and feeling poorly, they treated me very quickly and set up iv antibiotics immediately without even waiting for the blood results.

The Bloods did indeed come back showing chest infection, in the event that I got the antibiotics so quickly I had a couple of bags in A+E and then was allowed home with 3 lots to take tablets.

Am happy to say after a couple of days I felt well and have now just completed my second lot of Chemo.

I really hope Brian can pull through this, Good luck and keep us informed.

Love Debs x


Thank you Debs. So pleased that you recovered so well and quickly.

Take care.

Sandra x


hi sandra

so sorry to hear about brian.

wish i had some answers for you.

my nan is on 2nd course of antibiotics for of all things a big toe that she hurt while cutting her nails!!!

it seems to be taking ages to heal so maybe because of their cancer/chemo the antibiotics take longer to fight of the infections???

wishing brian a very speedy recovery from this setback

take care of yourself too


nancy xx


Thank you Nancy.

You may well be right about the antibiotics taking longer to work. This is the fifth day of antibotics and no change so far.

Hope your Nan is soon feeling better.


Sandra x


Hi Sandra,

sorry to hear about Brian and hope he gets better soon.

Unfortunately infection can be picked up very easily when you are having chemo. Antibiotics should start working within 24 hours if they are IV, 48 hours if taken orally. Antibiotics only work if the infection is bacterial, if they are not working it could be the infection is viral??

My next questions is have they only diagnosed pneumonia from the bloods? Does Brian have any other symptoms of pneumonia such as cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, loss of appetite etc? How sure are they this is pneumonia? I have know of people who are not diagnosed with the right thing (myself being one of them) and therefore not receiving the correct treatment. Its worth asking the questions.

I think I would also speak to your lung cancer nurse and tell her the situation and ask her to ring the cancer ward and find out whats what, they will tell her everything.

Take care Sandra, but do ask these questions.

lyn x


Thank you so much Lyn. I am very concerned that the antibiotics did not take effect sooner as they usually do but thought that that may be an effect of the cancer and chemo ! They took some urine, blood and sputum samples on Tuesday and I have been asking for the results but no reply as yet.

They said that he had a temperature yesterday and i believe they said that he may have to have another antibiotic, Sorry if I sound vagure, there is so much to take in.

Brian has an awful cough, first coughing up clear/white phelgm which then changed to yellow and is now brown. He doesn't seem to have difficult breathing, has a loss of appetite (is hardly eating anything) no chest pain but a sore throat from coughing.

He is very weak and has no energy.

I don't know how they diagnosed the pneumonia. He had a chest xray when we first went to the hospital on Friday. I am not aware that he has had another chest xray.

I wanted to speak to the lung cancer nurses yesterday but they do not work Fridays or weekends !! So no help there.

I'm going to ring Guy's today as I can't get hold of the LCN.

Thank you again Lyn. It is so good to be able to 'speak' to fellow patients/carers like this.

Take care.

Love Sandra x


Hi Sandra,

It does sound like its coming from the chest if he is bringing up phlegm. Maybe they have the results from the samples if they are changing antibiotics as now they know the 'bug' they need to treat. You probably won't be able to speak to the lung cancer nurse on Monday either as its bank holiday but try and get them on Tuesday. Hopefully the antibiotics will have started to work by then and Brian starts to get a bit better.

keep me upto date,

Love Lyn xx


Hi Lyn

Brian is still in hospital ( was admitted 2 weeks ago tomorrow, Sunday) Had IV antibiotics for 7 days then 3 days by mouth. They decided that he was not well enough to have further chemo (has had two infusions) and are going to give him Erlotinib when he recovers from the pneumonia. I had a chat with the LCN and the prognosis was not very good even with the Erlotinib!

He had a chest xray and a scan which appeared at first to show that the tumour had enlarged. However, on closer inspection they established that he has an abscess on his lung, caused by the pnemonia. He is now back on the IV antibiotics plus oral ones, apparently this is a 4/6 week course.

Today he is getting severe pains in the right side of his chest and shoulder (the tumour is in his right lung) and is receiving oralmorph plus paracetamol. Is it the tumour or the abcess which is causing this pain ?

He is again coughing up nasty, coloured phlegm- presumably this is from the abscess.

Due to see the Oncologist on Monday, after her clinic.

Have had discussions with the Occupational Therapists to see what items and help he/we will need when he is discharged.

I still can't believe this is happening, it is so unbelievable and surreal.

Thank you for 'listening' to me and for your concern.

Taken care.

Love Sandra x


hi sandra

how is brian? i hope is is feeling better.

and how are you?

love nancy x


Hi Nancy

Sorry to be so late with my reply. Brian is not too good at the moment,you may be able to see my update on Lyn's reply.

I am trying so hard to be positive but it is hard and heartbreaking to see him so unwell. It is so unfair and so, so unbelievable.

Thank you for your concern.

Love Sandra x


Hi Sandra,

so sorry to hear this news. I truly hope that Brian can recover from the pneumonia and start the Tarceva (Erlotinib), it does have some great benefits. Getting pneumonia is all too common with people receiving chemo and can be very nasty. I am not sure what it is that is causing the pain, I just hope they keep it under control, either way if its the pneumonia is should go as he starts to recover from it. If its the tumour it may subside once the Tarceva is in his system and working, it doesn't take long. In the meantime make sure they keep him comfortable.

I think the LCN is talking about worse case scenario (as they have to) and what we really want to hear when talking to them is hope. All we can do is pray that the treatment works and be as supportive as we can. It is hard to be positive in this situation my heart go's out to you Sandra. At times like this I wish I was religious but I guess it doesn't hurt to say a prayer. You have to think that he is in the best place to be given the best chance.

Try and stay strong Sandra, I'm always hear if you need to talk.

take care, love Lyn x


Hi Sandra I am new to this site. My husband is, we think, just recovering from pneumonia and it was diagnosed because he had a chest xray which showed some fluid and he had a high temperature. He was prescribed at home amoxycilan although it was touch and go whether he was to be admitted to hospital. I should say that after he finished his chemo middle of December (Cetuximab and Irinotechan) he developed blood clots in his lung and started fragmin (blood thinning) immediately. We werent sure whether it was the blood clots or the fluid which was causing this horrible horrible cough which is particularly worse at night. This is supposed to be our 3 months good time off chemo! Anyhow to top it all at the same time as the pneumonia began, he became unstable when walking, as if he was drunk. We dont know what is causing this and I am hoping it is vertigo as he is sick with it as well. My husband (Alan) was diagnosed with bowel cancer 7 years ago which had already spread to his liver and lungs. Everywhere is clear now except the lungs! He has had cyberknife and RFA. In himself he feels okay except for the unstableness. Sorry I have gone on a bit. I only meant to reply to the pneumonia bit, but got carried away. Do hope there is an improvement in Brian.



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