Side Effects of Chemo


Hi, I am 48 and was just diagnosed with breast cancer in Nov. My head is still swimming from meeting with all kinds of dr's and having tests last week. What seems to have me most scared is how sick will I be with the chemo? Will my hair ever come back, heck it's already thin now. I met with the plastic surgeon today and to my relief at least I know insurance will pay for reconstruction. I'm also afraid it's going to affect my relationship, he says absolutely not, but I don't know if I'm going to feel "feminine" again. I don't even want to go through chemo. I'm waiting on the genetics test to come back to say if it's positive or negative, if I carry it, it seems a double masectomy would be the best decision? Any advice will be helpful.


  • Puffin2014
    Puffin2014 Member Posts: 531 Member
    welcome to the site

    Welcome to the site, though sorry you find yourself here. I remember that feeling well when everything was happening so fast.

    I was diagnosed in May with invasive ductal cancer stage 1 grade 2. I had a lumpectomy with sentinel lymph node dissection Jun 16, had clean margins and nodes. My oncotype score was 27 which indicates how responsive the cancer will be to chemo, low score no chemo, score of 30 or more chemo, and with a score of 27 my MO strongly recommended chemo. So I had cytoxin and taxotere every 3 weeks for 4 sessions, with a shot of neulasta 24 hours after each chemo to stimulate my bone marrow to make white blood cells. My hair fell out 2 weeks after the first chemo. I got a free wig from the cancer society that looked almost identical to my usual hairstyle and wore scarves and hats over the summer. My last chemo was Sep 18 and I went home for Christmas without my wig - hair is still super short but my scalp is covered. I had no problems with nausea, though food lost it's usual taste (now back to normal). Main problem I had with chemo was severe weakness and fatigue, had to use a cane even to walk around the house, got short of breath if I even bent over to tie my shoes. I'm still working on building my stamina back up, but have been able to return to the gym and walk the treadmill and go to fitness class, I just go a little slower than the others in the class.

    Everyone reacts different to chemo, if you need chemo check if your center has a chemo class and if it does be sure and take it. You need to know what you can do to prevent side effects and how to deal with things as they come up. Knowledge is power.

    But be careful about jumping all over the internet, a lot of incorrect and scary stuff out there. Another website that my onc recommended was and I have found it extremely helpful. Besides having excellent educational articles, their discussion forums are subdivided, so you can follow forums specifically for those who have had mastectomies, chemo, radiation, etc. I started with the lumpectomy forum, then moved to the chemo forum, then the radiation forum, and now am active on the Arimidex forum. Be sure and mark any forum you like as a favorite so it's easy to find again and easy to see when new responses have been added.

    Another suggestion I'd have is to ask your Dr if it's OK that you record your appointments with your smart phone/iPod. They cover so much info it's hard to take it all in, and even having a second person with you isn't always the answer. Lew wasn't very good at taking notes. It was several months between my first visit with the radiologist and when I finally started radiation, and it was so helpful to go back and relisten to that first session.

    I've also gotten a lot of great support from the people in the chat room and discussion board on this site. There's usually not much activity on chat during the day, but is active between 9 and midnight central time.

    Keep us informed how you're doing and I wish you all the best.


  • desertgirl947
    desertgirl947 Member Posts: 653 Member
    I did chemo, eight infusions

    I did chemo, eight infusions every other week.  Yes, my hair fell out, but it did grow back.  The chemo did not make me sick.  My oncologist/PA gave me pills to help keep that from happening.  At the very worse, I had a couple of days of queasiness the first four times. I was told there was no need to be sick.  If the pill I was taking did not pevent vomiting,  they could ty something else.

    I did chemo about 2.5 years ago.

  • Rague
    Rague Member Posts: 3,653 Member
    Everyone's experience is different.

    No 2 of us have exactly the same experiences. I can only speak for myself.

    I did 4 DD A/C neoadjuvant and 12 weekly Taxol adjuvant.  The A/C did not slow me down at all. I did loose hair, senses of taste and smell and appetite (just never got hungry - no nausea issues) so had to be reminded to eat 'something'.  Taxol was not as 'nice' - I was completely and utterly EXHAUSTED throughout it.  I existed either in bed or in front of TV on the couch.   I was fortunate that all I had to do was what I wanted to do.  Hubby took over all house, cooking and dog chores and Son took over all horse/barn chores.

    Hair - well I was so hopeing that mine would come back 'grey/white' - it didn't.  I was 63 when DXd IBC and the 'curse' of genes from Daddy's side of family it was still as dark brown naturally at 63 as it had been all my life.  (It gets 'old' to be told by stranger that you would look 'younger' IF you didn't dye your hair so dark - I want to scream at them "I don't dye my hair!)  After 2 different batches of chemo, it came back just as dark and 5 yrs later at 68 it is still as dark as ever.

    "Feminine" - what is that? We are each who we are.  There are different meanings to different of us.  I never thought I would be less the woman I am/have always been because of IBC.  Who/What we are is within us.  I am not one who would fit into everyone's idea of what 'feminine' is.  I am very much an 'outdoor woman', lovng to do so much that isn't 'gentile'/'ladylike' but that doesn't mean that I am not who I am and love being the woman I am.  Don't know exactly how to phrase this - in Hubby's eyes I am still the same 'lady' he married 39 yrs ago last month.

    We are each have the choice to 'dwell in darkness' or 'live in sunshine' no matter what our journey on Earth brings us.