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To Chemo OR NOT to Chemo

Gabbie99
Posts: 17
Joined: Feb 2010

This is my very first post...diagnosed with BC in October, (you know the month when all those pink ribbons are constantly in your face as a reminder) In December had a lumpectomy and sentinal node biopsy that showed NOT clear margins and a less than one mm tumor in lymph node. Just two weeks ago had a mastectomy and all margins are clear of cancer- removed 20 lymph nodes and also NO cancer. My oncologist has recommended tomoxifen therapy and still thinks I should do the taxotere and cytoxin chemo because of the micro tumor in my first lymph node. I was determined that I would only go through the chemo if there was any more cancer in my lymph nodes, but now am scared that if a few years down the road I have cancer somewhere else I will always blame it on not taking the chemo..anyone else been down this road and chose not to do chemo?

DebbyM's picture
DebbyM
Posts: 3294
Joined: Oct 2009

What you wrote Babette is so true. Be comfortable with what you decide. After all, it is your decision only. Good luck to you!

Kiantae
Posts: 29
Joined: Feb 2010

I had a small tumor with 2 sentinal nodes positive which historically has been a definite for chemo. My oncologist wanted me to do the oncotype test because newer research has shown that the oncotype results still indicate whether chemo is necessary if the tumor is smaller and 1-3 nodes were positive. Since that way of thinking is pretty new, I asked the various doctors I was seeing what their opinion was. I could tell my surgeon was skeptical and I asked him to present my case to the tumor board and he agreed. He called me after they met and said the panel was comfortable with the recommendation of no chemo if my Oncotype test came back in the low category. The next day I got my Onco score and it was 14. I do have to do radiation, as further review of my tumor by the group showed a need there. When I met with the radiology oncologist, he mentioned my case was also reviewed by a visiting oncologist from UCLA and he agreed he would not recommend chemo either. He was conducting a training session and they used my case for discussion with the class. That being said, 2 other oncologists in the same practice as my doctor would still have recommended chemo. One of the nurses said they are older and had not even read the current studies, they were going with what they were comfortable with. She also said she knows my surgeon and if he was not on board, he would have no trouble telling me to run, not walk to the next city over to be treated. I feel that I have had done my due diligence and I am comfortable with my decision. I start radiation this next Thursday for 33 treatments.

ealong1
Posts: 7
Joined: Mar 2010

I just want to say that I am very impressed with you. You seem to be taking charge of your outcome. Whatever you decide, I can tell that YOU will know you did the right thing for YOU! What did the second opinion onc say?

Gabbie99
Posts: 17
Joined: Feb 2010

My second opinion at a University hospital was last Friday and after speaking with that oncologist I have decided to take chemotherapy treatment. He said two things that stuck out to me..."your cancer behavior concerns me, even tho your tumor was small- 1.5 centimeter-and it is has been removed it had already thrown cells out to a lymph node, and although your cells do not appear aggressive I am bothered by that behavior" He also said that if I were his sister he would be jumping up and down telling me that I have to do chemotherapy at age 50. It really helped that this guy was awesome! Easy to talk to, spent lots of time with my husband and I, our age bracket and pretty good looking. Of course there were tears in the parking lot, (always do that after any dr appointment), but pretty much had decided when he used that word "behavior". Don't know why that has such an impact, maybe I was just looking for a reason to say yes all along. Still I am scared to death. Just keep telling myself all you wonderful people have done this and more and I will be fine. My goal is to get it all over with before my B-Day on June 20.

natly15's picture
natly15
Posts: 1930
Joined: Sep 2009

Gabbie I opted for 8 rounds of chemo. My tumor was smaller than yours but had already invaded the sentinel lymph node. The other lymph nodes were clean. My onc felt this was the best way to treat it. I will finish my 8th and final round of chemo next Tuesday. My chemo began last October. You can do this. Chemo is not a walk in the park, but is doable as so many pink sisters will tell you. My body will get a rest for approx a month and then I'll go on to 5 weeks of radiation. I'm 67 and looking forward to many more wonderful years just as you will.

This is scary but as barbaric as it may seem, medical technology has come a long way to help us walk this path of treatment. There is a wealth of knowledge and support here on these boards. I hope you keep posting. Hugs to you.

Gabbie99
Posts: 17
Joined: Feb 2010

Thanks Natly. My surgery also discovered sentinal lymph node involvement- a 1mm tumor. I had one tumor that was only 1cm- but they found multi-focal disease..which I think means that there were suspicious cells every where. Did you have a mastectomy? I am only wondering - because there was no radiation treatment recommended for me and I wonder why. So glad for you that your chemo is over. When I am sitting there for my first treatment I am going to think of all of these people who have gone through so much more and be strong for them! My husband says that I have a public face and a private face....it's great to be able to confess fear and weakness and show my private face here...public face stays strong

MyTurnNow's picture
MyTurnNow
Posts: 2694
Joined: Aug 2009

Gabbie, I'm glad you have finally made your decision and it's one you can live with. I am 55 and I had chemo last summer. They have truly come a long way. I never had one day of sickness although I did have some fatigue. Not really much of that either though. I continued to work 40 hours a week and exercised 4-5 times a week. You can do this and you'll be doing it for the right reason. The fear of the unknown is felt by every one of us but know that it is all very do-able. Good luck and let us know your "cocktail" and treatment plan. We'll be with you every step of the way. Take care!!

Gabbie99
Posts: 17
Joined: Feb 2010

Tomorrow morning I will have a port put in. Told my surgeon that I felt creeped out about having a pop top on my body and we had quite a laugh about that. He said of all the things for you to worry about through this whole process, biopsies, lumpectomy, mastectomy, lymph node removal, and now chemo...I can't believe it's the port that's really bothering you! Well- what can I say..it is. Trying not to think about it at all and hoping the anxiety goes away before the surgery. It may just be the fact that it is one step closer to the chemo treatments. Going to the onc on Monday to set them up. Only 4 sessions- three weeks apart. By my calucaltions if we start by April 16th my last session will be two days before my birthday on June 20. It has definitley helped to hear stories on this website from women who have been there and done that. Thanks for all the info.

MyTurnNow's picture
MyTurnNow
Posts: 2694
Joined: Aug 2009

Gabbie, I had this same cocktail and for the same duration. I didn't have a port put in because I have "good" veins or so they say. There are many ladies who have had a port and are very glad they did. They say it makes it much easier. I hope you start in time to really have something to celebrate this year for your birthday. I'll celebrate with you, my birthday is the 28th. Good luck and keep us updated. Take care!

CarrWilson's picture
CarrWilson
Posts: 112
Joined: Feb 2010

My OncotypeDX score was 16, and the recurrence score was 10%, with Tamoxifin my score would drop to 8%. He recommended no chemo, and thought I was kind of crazy for wanting it. (He is a young punk doctor, but very smart). The next time I saw him, he said that he ran my case by another female oncologist that was my age (49) and she said she would do it in a heartbeat. He was much more positive and upbeat after that. Two percent is good enough benefit for me. If I walk into a room of 100 people and I am one of the people missing, I would definately notice, and so would my family. (I asked about the OncotypeDX clinical trial and 11-25 score is still somewhat a gray area)

I plan to live into my 90's and do not want to let a little thing like breast cancer get in the way. I know I am on the downhill slide, but I have a long time before I hit the dirt. You have to do what you think is in your best interests and follow your gut and heart. I had my first treatment today T/C. So far so good.

Best of Luck in your treatment and hopefully you will be done before your birthday!

- Carrie

waffle8
Posts: 232
Joined: Mar 2010

Finally got an appt. for my second opinion about chemo treatments..I had to practically beg but I refuse to apologize this is my health and I have to look out for me...It was not easy I had to actually say to the nurse that I was stressed out enough did not need more stress from her.....Hoping to get more direction from this new doc.......My dx is IDC [lumpectomy]3 lymph nodes neg. Grade 2 Est/Prog post. Herc neg. oncoscore 20. My age is 45...Did I leave anything out? Anyone have any thoughts.. This site has been an answer to my prayers..Much love and healing to you all..!!!

Babette

ppurdin's picture
ppurdin
Posts: 935
Joined: Jul 2009

You need to do what you feel in your heart is best for you.It needs to be a decision you can live with.i did do Chemo,I wanted to fight Cancer in any way I could.Good Luck. pat.

ppurdin's picture
ppurdin
Posts: 935
Joined: Jul 2009

You need to do what you feel in your heart is best for you.It needs to be a decision you can live with.i did do Chemo,I wanted to fight Cancer in any way I could.Good Luck. pat.

ppurdin's picture
ppurdin
Posts: 935
Joined: Jul 2009

You need to do what you feel in your heart is best for you.It needs to be a decision you can live with.i did do Chemo,I wanted to fight Cancer in any way I could.Good Luck. pat.

orangegirl
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2010

Gabbie
I'm new to the site, too but I was diagnosed 14 years ago. I had very agressive chemo to combat a very agressive cancer and even then I was asking myself if it was the right choice. My kids were very young then, 10, 9 and 7. I asked my onc. what my prognosis was without chemo and she said I had a 10-20% chance of surviving 5 years and half that of surviving 10 years. I wanted to finish raising my kids, so I did it. Afterwards I said that if i ever had cancer again, I would not go through that a second time. We have just found a new mass and we don't know if it's cancer or not but I'm already asking myself if I can do it again or not. Now I have a precious grandson who is only 3 and I can't imagine not watching him grow up. As everyone else has said, it's an intensley personal decision and many factors will go into making it. I truly believe that the 13 years I have had since my treatment ended were made possible by the chemo and I think I made the right choice. My grandmother was 72 when she was diagnose with non-hodgkins lymphoma and the family pressured her to get chemo and she thought it was silly at her age. She agreed to try one treatment and she was terribly ill from it so she said "no more". At 72 I would agree that being sick from chemo doesn't seem like much of a trade off but I was only 27 and it made all the difference to me.
Sending you prayers of comfort,
E

Christine Louise
Posts: 429
Joined: Feb 2010

I think chemo has improved since the time you had it 14 years ago. The meds for preventing nausea, pain and other complications help people get through it more smoothly than before.

I hope everything goes well for you. Give that grandbaby a hug.

Angie2U's picture
Angie2U
Posts: 2993
Joined: Sep 2009

Wishing you good luck orangegirl! Offering you support and strength!

Hugs, Angie

jnl's picture
jnl
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

Praying for you orangegirl and sending you hugs!

Leeza

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