Just Joined today, May 15,2010 :)

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grammaT
grammaT Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
Hello all! I've spent the last hour reading all your posts and decided to join in. We are all sisters in cancer and I know the value of sticking together and supporting each other!!
I'm 67, retired from the business world 2 years ago, and the grandmother of 5.
I found my lump by accident on March 28th while showering. Had right breast mastectomy on April 28th. It was a complete success and I'm feeling wonderful. No pain, but the usual numbness still under the arm and above the incision - no big deal.
The path report showed that the tumor, it's margins, and the nodes removed are all NEGATIVE for cancer - WOO HOO!!!
My stats were: stage 1, grade 3, 1.8mm tumor
I am "Triple Negative" (ER-, PR-, HER2-) which means any kind of hormonal therapy won't work on me... chemo is the only treatment option available.
Had my first meeting with the medical oncologist yesterday (May 14th). Of course she recommended chemo and gave me two options: CMF or TC. I find that most of you on this thread are talking about TC which is fine.
Here's my question: (before I ask it, I should say that I've been unable to find any kind of answer to it anywhere on the web, including many other blogs)... WHY SHOULD I EVEN HAVE CHEMO? In 13 years I'll be 80, which, in my opinion is long enough for me to live. In reading everything I could get my hands on today about chemo, I find that the side effects of all these drugs are a risk that I really don't want to take. In my specific type of cancer, I've learned that rogue cells "MAY" have broken away from the primary tumor and spread to the blood stream. I'm stuck on "may have" - this also means to me that they may NOT have. Thus opting for no treatment makes a certain amount of sense to me.
Since I'm very new to this, and I'm sure there's a lot I haven't learned yet, I'd really appreciate hearing about your thought processes when you were told you were going to need chemo.
With much gratitude,
Terry

Comments

  • Mama G
    Mama G Member Posts: 762
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    hmmmm
    I'm not too sure about this, but I think most of us are on the "may have" program, no matter what stage, grade, and tumor size. BUT, we all want to live as long as possible. My mom died at 67 and I've missed her so much! If she could have lived ONE more year with chemo I would have wanted her to do that.

    On the other hand, I can see why you would rather not go through this ordeal if you don't HAVE to. Seems like overkill sometimes.
  • grammaT
    grammaT Member Posts: 2
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    Mama G said:

    hmmmm
    I'm not too sure about this, but I think most of us are on the "may have" program, no matter what stage, grade, and tumor size. BUT, we all want to live as long as possible. My mom died at 67 and I've missed her so much! If she could have lived ONE more year with chemo I would have wanted her to do that.

    On the other hand, I can see why you would rather not go through this ordeal if you don't HAVE to. Seems like overkill sometimes.

    hmmmm
    Thanks Mama G for the quick reply :)
    Yes, I haven't digested all the info yet, and I need to talk to my kids too. I've made a new appt with the radiation oncologist to discuss this all with him, as I trust him completely, whereas the medical oncologist and I seemed to be from different planets!! LOL.

    What was your thought process when you were first told you needed chemo?
  • elm3544
    elm3544 Member Posts: 748
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    Hello and welcome!
    It can be a tough decision to make. I'm glad you plan to talk to your family before deciding anything. Did your Dr give you any indication on how effective the chemo will be? Sometimes the risk outweighs the potential side effects and somettimes its the opposite. In the end you just have to make the decision that is right for you and have no regrets. I chose chemo and have had alot of problems but if I had to do it over I'd make the same choice. I felt that I had to do everything I could to fight it. Best of luck to you!
  • carkris
    carkris Member Posts: 4,553 Member
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    elm3544 said:

    Hello and welcome!
    It can be a tough decision to make. I'm glad you plan to talk to your family before deciding anything. Did your Dr give you any indication on how effective the chemo will be? Sometimes the risk outweighs the potential side effects and somettimes its the opposite. In the end you just have to make the decision that is right for you and have no regrets. I chose chemo and have had alot of problems but if I had to do it over I'd make the same choice. I felt that I had to do everything I could to fight it. Best of luck to you!

    I felt I had to everything I
    I felt I had to everything I coould and this is my second primary. I had CMF thr first time and AC and taxol the second. CMF is way easier so you may consider that. I am suprised they offered that as they dont so much anymore. I had a tough time with my second chemo with the CMF my hair thinned but I didn not lose it, and I wasnt nearly as sick.
  • Skeezie
    Skeezie Member Posts: 586 Member
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    carkris said:

    I felt I had to everything I
    I felt I had to everything I coould and this is my second primary. I had CMF thr first time and AC and taxol the second. CMF is way easier so you may consider that. I am suprised they offered that as they dont so much anymore. I had a tough time with my second chemo with the CMF my hair thinned but I didn not lose it, and I wasnt nearly as sick.

    Hi Terri, Welcome,
    I too had Triple Neg dx. I too am 67, I wish to live as long and healthy as possible. Cancer left untreated will not allow me to do that. My biopsy report after my mastecomy came back no cancer cells found in remainig breast tissue (Sentinel Node biopsy earlier was clear nodes). Yes I had chemo, C/T. Why? It was not a difficult decision, I wanted to do everything that was possible to prevent a recurrence. You just said it yourself, possible a rogue cell broke off and is going thru your bloodstream...well, that's the whole purpose of chemo, to kill any cell floating around somewhere. If you skip chemo, you skip that chance of killing rogue cells. Because of my biopsy report, I did not have to have radiation.

    If you do not have a good rapport with your onc...get a new one. You should have a great relationship and trust. Thee are so many wonderful, caring onc's out there and it's important to find one that meshes with you.

    For me there was no choice, I wanted to do everything that was humanley possible to kill this beast and not have to someday regret my decision of not doing a treatment because there is a recurrence. There are no definites and if it recurs, I will at least know I did everything possible.

    Chemo is a small price to pay for health. Cancer makes you much sicker than chemo ever could. And chemo made me sick but it's over and the hair is growing back.

    I hope you can find an onc you have faith in to help you with your decision.

    Hugs, Judy :-)
  • roseann4
    roseann4 Member Posts: 992 Member
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    Skeezie said:

    Hi Terri, Welcome,
    I too had Triple Neg dx. I too am 67, I wish to live as long and healthy as possible. Cancer left untreated will not allow me to do that. My biopsy report after my mastecomy came back no cancer cells found in remainig breast tissue (Sentinel Node biopsy earlier was clear nodes). Yes I had chemo, C/T. Why? It was not a difficult decision, I wanted to do everything that was possible to prevent a recurrence. You just said it yourself, possible a rogue cell broke off and is going thru your bloodstream...well, that's the whole purpose of chemo, to kill any cell floating around somewhere. If you skip chemo, you skip that chance of killing rogue cells. Because of my biopsy report, I did not have to have radiation.

    If you do not have a good rapport with your onc...get a new one. You should have a great relationship and trust. Thee are so many wonderful, caring onc's out there and it's important to find one that meshes with you.

    For me there was no choice, I wanted to do everything that was humanley possible to kill this beast and not have to someday regret my decision of not doing a treatment because there is a recurrence. There are no definites and if it recurs, I will at least know I did everything possible.

    Chemo is a small price to pay for health. Cancer makes you much sicker than chemo ever could. And chemo made me sick but it's over and the hair is growing back.

    I hope you can find an onc you have faith in to help you with your decision.

    Hugs, Judy :-)

    You may feel differently when you are 80.
    I am 59 and just came from a dinner party hosted by a husband and wife who are both 80. They are vital active, people who don't feel they have lived long enough. If I were triple negative, I would have had chemo just in case. In my case, the oncotypedx test came back with only a 3% improvement in my recurrence score so I opted out of chemo.

    No one can make this decision for you. It's a tough one but I wouldn't assume that you'll be ready to check out at 80.

    Roseann
  • Youcandothis
    Youcandothis Member Posts: 79
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    My take
    Terry, I've watched 3 close family members fight lung cancer and lose. Please think carefully about the effect on your children and grandchildren before you make a decision that might needlessly expose them and you to that kind of pain. Chemo is no joke, but it is soon over. It's a decision you will ultimately make on your own, but I'm glad you're talking to your family about it.
  • ms_independent
    ms_independent Member Posts: 214
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    hi
    I didn't have chemo so, can't address that part of your question. But, a few things have come to mind as I read your post. Did you have oncotypedx testing done? If not, ask for it to be done. At least then you can find out how much (if any) chemo could reduce your chances of a recurrance. It would certainly be easier to make an informed decision if you knew that. The other thing I thought of: if you don't connect or feel comfortable with your oncologist---get another one. Or if that isn't possible, at least get a 2nd opinion. It's your life you are making decisions about. You need to be armed with all of the known facts before you make your decision. And I can see no reason that the decision needs to be made right away.
    I hope you know that you don't have to feel you need to do anything I suggested. I'm just throwing out thoughts that might help you. if they do, thats great, if not, that's fine too.
    Hugs, El
  • arkansasgirl
    arkansasgirl Member Posts: 84
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    Rare cancer and Triple Neg
    Hi Terry

    I'm 54 and got diagnosed with a very rare BC which chemo and radiation has no effect. I also have TRIPLE NEG BC. I had both breast removed (APRIL 200) but only had cancer in the right breast. My lymph nodes were negative (3 removed).
    My tumor went from 2cm to 5cm in about 4 weeks. I'm not going to say those 6 treatments every 3 weeks were easy but what I can tell you is that as of FEB 1st I'm CANCER FREE.
    You have a lot to live for with 5 grandchildren. Those 13 years will go by so fast. As i see it all of us live from day to day not knowing what tomorrow will bring. You shouldn't accept your life should end in 13 years. If you accept that then why have surgery? I don't mean to be point blank about this, but God knows our numbered days and for whatever
    reason we have been stuck by this disease. Even though there are risks with chemo I personally feel it knocked out the Triple Neg BC for me. This cancer is a very aggressive cancer and usually returns within 2 to 2 1/2 years targeting the brain, bones. lung, and liver. I don't want to give it a chance to return. I took the risk with chemo. The first and last treament landed me in the hospital because of my white blood count dropping.
    This is a decision only you can make and try find answers to your questions. None of us
    I'm sure didn't want to take any treatments because of the side effects but we can not
    give up. Here's my motto on cancer: CANCER WON THE 1ST BATTLE AND I WON THE 2ND BUT THE
    WAR IS NOT OVER FOR I WILL NOT GIVE UP.
    I hope for whatever your decision to do will be the best one for you.

    God Bless You

    ARKANSASGIRL
  • Lighthouse_7
    Lighthouse_7 Member Posts: 1,566 Member
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    Chemo
    Dear Terry,
    For me I did NOT want chemo at all. I even tried to bargain with the doctors and said, take my breast if I don't have to have chemo.
    I had Stage 3 invasive with 8 nodes infected. I was a good candidate for lumpectomy because the tumor (2.6) was confined in the duct.
    But my bargaining didn't work, LOL now I can laugh....I was told chemo was necessary to kill any remaining cells that might be hiding.
    I am 55 years old but still was petrified of chemo. Well, I am happy to tell you that it was not that bad.

    I think we can scare ourselves by a lot of research and horror stories, but it has come such a long way in recent years and they have wonderful medicine that counteracts any nausea that might come your way. The worse thing is that you do get tired, but heck, we can manage that for years of living, right?

    I would say to have it if your doctor recommends it and enjoy many years to come.
    I am now cancer free (thank God) and feeling much better.

    I finished chemo and radiation on December 22, 2009.
    God Bless with whatever decision you make and know that we are all here for you.
    Prayers are sent your way.
    Wanda
  • Christmas Girl
    Christmas Girl Member Posts: 3,682 Member
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    Warm welcome, Terry
    We're all here to support and encourage each other. Though sorry for the reason, glad you found us.

    Do you know your risk of recurrence percentage with and without chemotherapy? And within how many years? Only your medical oncologist can provide this important information; so, if you don't know and it hasn't been offered yet - please, do ask.

    In other words, your words: does the "may" outweigh the "may not"? Or, vice versa? Surgery alone may not "buy" you the 13 years you mention.

    Personally, I based all of my own decisions on those important percentages.

    Best wishes to you, as you move foward along the journey.

    Kind regards, Susan