Quitting Chemo Con't.

QQN4answers
QQN4answers Member Posts: 16
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
Wow, thank you to those who took the time to respond to my request for info. I am learning a lot from reading the responses. It sounds like the Chemo that they are giving me is pretty standard. 4 courses of A/C and then 4 courses of Taxol every two weeks.I was also given the Luprine shot and had terrible side effects. So instead I am taking Taxomifen. I am taking the new anti-nausea drug Emend. While it helps with the nausea, I slept for the three days that you take it. My major concern is with the long term effects of Chemo. I have heard and read that many have to live with some serious side effects caused from the drugs. I can't seem to wrap my mind around the fact that even with Chemo,surgery and radiation the odds of being cancer free in the future are uncertain. Top that off with the posibility of having to live with some side effects it makes me wonder if chemo treatment is worth all the risks. I also wonder why medical science spends so much time and money to control the symptons of chemo instead of coming up with a better cancer drug. Having said all this, is there anyone else who has come to the same conclusion and is consisdering stopping their Chemo treatments and what their doctors are recommending as an alternative? Liz

Comments

  • inkblot
    inkblot Member Posts: 698 Member
    Hey Liz:

    It's tough to know what's best sometimes.

    Before I began chemo, I was not impressed from the research I'd done and what friends had learned and/or shared with me. I wasn't impressed with what my docs had to say about it. I really didn't want to have it at all. Like yourself I was uneasy about not only the short term side effects but the long term (or late) side effects as well. I wasn't too concerned about losing my hair or any of the physically painless side effects but rather the damage it may cause to my otherwise healthy body. That's a concern I think we all share.

    What really helped me was talking with other women who'd had the same treatment. As I learned that more and more women, who were as much as 20 years out of treatment, were doing very well, I was encouraged. I WANTED the chemo benefits and I wanted them without the associated/potential risks! I know exactly how you feel. The fact is that we are between a rock and the proverbial hard spot though. There are also risks if we choose not to have (or complete) the chemo. It isn't an easy choice. Almost a damned if we do and damned if we don't situation.

    For me, I knew that I wanted to achieve all I possibly could to better insure that my cancer was sent into exile. Without the chemo, I was afraid I'd always wonder whether I'd made the best choice for myself. So, I took my fears and concerns and talked them all out with my doctor's, my husband and best friends and finally made the choice to have it. (My treatment was 4 cycles of AC followed by rads)Once I did that, I never looked back. Never second guessed myself. It was chin up and full speed ahead.

    Most docs will never say "cancer free". How can they? There is no way of knowing and that makes it even more difficult to endure treatments when we cannot know for certain if they're working or not working.

    Anti cancer drugs are big business. Huge actually. Yet, to date, science hasn't produced anything which can destroy cancer while leaving healthy tissue unscathed. Strides are being made in that direction, constantly, but no magic bullets seem to be forthcoming. Yet any day could be the day that a serious breakthrough happens. Science reveals so much more about cancer today, compared to just 15 years ago that it's truly amazing. As the understanding grows, so will treatment methods. I expect that one day in the future, cancer will be treated much like diabetes is today. No longer so arduous, risky or uncertain, but with a simple daily control substance which neither makes us sick nor leaves us with chronic disabilities. Sounds great to me but then, my glass is always "half full"! In the meantime, our choice is limited to the best science has to offer, warts and all. It helps to get a clearer perspective if we can remember how much better we have it today, than our sisters who were treated 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, women truly suffered and in ways we probably couldn't even imagine enduring today. It was almost barbaric in comparison. So, the scientific wheels are turning but not always as quickly as everyone would like.

    I know you'll find your answer...to continue or to quit. More important than your choice, is how you feel about it once you've made it. So please take your time and think it all through carefully.

    Hope this may help in some way.

    Love,light and laughter,
    Ink
  • gjenvick
    gjenvick Member Posts: 4
    inkblot said:

    Hey Liz:

    It's tough to know what's best sometimes.

    Before I began chemo, I was not impressed from the research I'd done and what friends had learned and/or shared with me. I wasn't impressed with what my docs had to say about it. I really didn't want to have it at all. Like yourself I was uneasy about not only the short term side effects but the long term (or late) side effects as well. I wasn't too concerned about losing my hair or any of the physically painless side effects but rather the damage it may cause to my otherwise healthy body. That's a concern I think we all share.

    What really helped me was talking with other women who'd had the same treatment. As I learned that more and more women, who were as much as 20 years out of treatment, were doing very well, I was encouraged. I WANTED the chemo benefits and I wanted them without the associated/potential risks! I know exactly how you feel. The fact is that we are between a rock and the proverbial hard spot though. There are also risks if we choose not to have (or complete) the chemo. It isn't an easy choice. Almost a damned if we do and damned if we don't situation.

    For me, I knew that I wanted to achieve all I possibly could to better insure that my cancer was sent into exile. Without the chemo, I was afraid I'd always wonder whether I'd made the best choice for myself. So, I took my fears and concerns and talked them all out with my doctor's, my husband and best friends and finally made the choice to have it. (My treatment was 4 cycles of AC followed by rads)Once I did that, I never looked back. Never second guessed myself. It was chin up and full speed ahead.

    Most docs will never say "cancer free". How can they? There is no way of knowing and that makes it even more difficult to endure treatments when we cannot know for certain if they're working or not working.

    Anti cancer drugs are big business. Huge actually. Yet, to date, science hasn't produced anything which can destroy cancer while leaving healthy tissue unscathed. Strides are being made in that direction, constantly, but no magic bullets seem to be forthcoming. Yet any day could be the day that a serious breakthrough happens. Science reveals so much more about cancer today, compared to just 15 years ago that it's truly amazing. As the understanding grows, so will treatment methods. I expect that one day in the future, cancer will be treated much like diabetes is today. No longer so arduous, risky or uncertain, but with a simple daily control substance which neither makes us sick nor leaves us with chronic disabilities. Sounds great to me but then, my glass is always "half full"! In the meantime, our choice is limited to the best science has to offer, warts and all. It helps to get a clearer perspective if we can remember how much better we have it today, than our sisters who were treated 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, women truly suffered and in ways we probably couldn't even imagine enduring today. It was almost barbaric in comparison. So, the scientific wheels are turning but not always as quickly as everyone would like.

    I know you'll find your answer...to continue or to quit. More important than your choice, is how you feel about it once you've made it. So please take your time and think it all through carefully.

    Hope this may help in some way.

    Love,light and laughter,
    Ink

    Ink

    I couldn't agree more with your eloquent response. It is a challenge to digest all the information that is out there - especially when there are conflicting opinions and recommendations. Though I firmly believe in being an educated patient, there were times I wished the "experts" would just tell me what to do.

    My oncologist strongly recommended high dose chemotherapy for me even before he knew there was lymph node involvement. Based on his assessment of the tumor and knowing my family history, he urged an agressive course of treatment. I read the long list of adverse reactions, possible long term damage and was very anxious and scared about it. But I concluded it was the best thing available.

    My mother passed away from breast cancer over 30 years ago. She had a mastectomy only. No radiation, no chemo. She survived for three years after treatment. I often lament the fact that she was not able to have the chemotherapy available today, that I had. The outcome might've been different. The high dose chemo, which was 6 treatments given in 72 hour infusions, over a period of less than 3 months produced severe side effects I could not have imagined. I was ready to quit after the second one. My doctor gently said, "Let's see what we want to do when the next one comes up." He closely monitored all my side effects and was quick to prescribe medications to try and alleviate them. Some were not successful. Though it was extremely difficult to get through the 6 cycles, I kept going.

    After 7 years with no recurrence, I am confident about my choice. No matter what happens in the future, I will know I did every thing I could. I hope 10 or 20 years from now, no one will have to go through chemotherapy, because newer, safer and more targeted drugs are available.

    Liz, I wish you strength in making this difficult decision.

    Michele
  • 24242
    24242 Member Posts: 1,398
    All the information one is bombarded with is a bit much. I felt like Desert Storm since I was diagnosed 7 years ago having to go through treatments. I have most side affects and am often asked if I would do it again. One thing I know is I wouldn't be here if I hadn't gone the route of trying to prolong this life of mine. I had a 14 year old son and it made it clear to me that I had try something or I didn't have a chance. Now I do things to lower the ever increased risks of reoccurance and that is all I can do. Realistically some of the stats aren't good but the alternative was pretty clear to me. Good luck and remember you have to do what it is you need to do for yourself. Not for anyone else.
    Be good to yourself always,
    Tara
  • hounddog
    hounddog Member Posts: 115
    Hello my advise to you is Do Not quit chemo .I know it is hard stuff but in the long run it is worth it. I had breast cancer 13yrs ago and was on 6 months of chemo it was hard but I'm still alive . A new cancer came back this February and I had a total of 4 chemo treatments . Getting sick is the worst part and looing hair is also hard. Take one day at a time and put your trust in God. He has purposes for us even though we do not know what they are.