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Stopping Chemo Early?

Posts: 45
Joined: Nov 2005


I've done 11 treatments of 5-FU, leucovorin and oxaliplatin for stage IIIA colon cancer. I'm scheduled to do my last treatment this coming Friday. I've been doing pretty well with my treatments, but I've been exhausted and during my last couple of treatments I've had pain and nausea that I haven't been able to get under control. I've been thinking about not doing my last treatment. I'm sure physically I could handle it, but I'm just so tired of chemo and tired of feeling bad that I really don't want to do it. I feel like the chemo has already been given a chance to work and this last one wouldn't make a difference. I want to move on to feeling good. At the same time, I'd probably feel better if I finished all of my treatments and it's only one more. Have any of you not done all of your treatments? If so, how did you reach your decisions? Any regrets? Any advice?


4law's picture
Posts: 112
Joined: Dec 2004

Following surgery, my adjuvant chemo (5-FU and leucovorin) landed me in the hospital after only 3 treatments. Then I had my ostomy reversed, and had to wait for a month or so for healing before restarting adjuvant chemo again. These decisions were made after discussing pros and cons for various options with my doctor. I hated the 6 weeks on, two weeks off - - for 32 weeks -- but so far, so good, I am fine now! You have to discuss this with your oncologist. However, after reading your question, it seems as if you are understandably depressed, but you mention that you "could handle it" and you would "feel better if [you] finished all of [your] treatments". As long as the protocol for your specific cancer calls for a specific treatment regiment, I would vote to go for the last treatment -- unless, you and your doctor feel there is a valid reason not to do so. Good luck -- sure it sucks -- but try to think past this to how much better you will feel knowing you have done everything possible to beat this horrible disease.

Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

It would seem that if you went so far already and only 1 treatment left, that it would be good idea to finish and be done with it. This way you will not have any regrets that you have not finished it. Unless your doctor says otherwise. Just a little longer left....

Best wishes to you.

Posts: 719
Joined: Feb 2005

Hi Jen - I finished nine of 12 of FOLFOX6...I think the same program as you are on. I have NO regrets for stopping early. You made it farther than I did!! I would check your bloodwork. I had to stop - or rather decided to stop - because my body had taken its fill...my liver was impacted and that scared the hell out of me. It was an easy decision for me, but this is a very personal thing...I was ready to begin a strong nutritional plan to become and stay healthy. I do think about recurrence of cancer, but oddly do not feel any guilt about stopping. My body had taken all it could stand. I was reacting to every treatment (from number six on) and it was for the best. Nevertheless, why don't you meet with your doc and voice your concerns. Look at your recent bloodwork and see if there is anything a little wacky...
All the best to you and I hope you feel good about any decision you make - Maura

Posts: 126
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Jen,
I could have written this message. I also just finished Folfox #11 and am preparing myself for # 12. I also had really bad nauseua with this last treatment. I am SO ready to start getting well. I also entertain the idea of skipping the last treatment, but I probably won't. I will find a way to dig deep and just finish. I have talked to my oncologist, and there is nothing magical about 12 treatments. It's just an arbitrary number. Good luck with your decision. Let us know what you decide. Best wishes, Donna

nanuk's picture
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

listen to your body..it knows more than the doctor.

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

After finishing all my treatments for my Stage II CRC, I was told about my breast cancer...Yup, chemo all over again...radiation, too....7 months after finishing the last stuff (5FU and cisplatin), I was facing other stuff (Adriamycin/Cytoxin and Taxol). I went from onc to onc trying to find ONE that would say "No, you don't have to again". Not a single to be found. In fact, the last one said something I couldn't fight....'Why would you throw away all of your hard work on the first set by not doing this set?'. Pooey! I was stuck!
I ended up skipping one of the AC treatments, but did all of the Taxol. BUT I wanted to stop after round 3 of the AC....again...that question came back at me...so I finished all of the Taxol. I am now 7 weeks over, my hair is returning, etc, and I'm glad I finished. But this was my PERSONAL choice...do I regret skipping the one AC...No, I felt so rotten physically...but I'm glad I did the Taxol.
Sorry, probably more confusing than anything...
Hugs, kathi

Posts: 156
Joined: Mar 2006

hi jen,
although this is not about the chemo but radiation, i thought i couldnt take it any more the burn was so bad my skin was falling off in layers even the radiation doctor suggested that i had had enough but then i thought what if something went wrong would there be that thought in my mind if only i had gotten the last treatment things may have went better, anyways i do think you should discuss this with your oncologist and see what they think. good luck with your decision. you will be in my thoughts.

Posts: 59
Joined: Mar 2006

I did all twelve, but my oncologist had suggested that I could consider stopping the oxaliplatin portion after 10 because of the neuropathy. I have since learned there are two stages on the neuropathy from the oxaliplatin: the early cold sensitive stuff that goes away before the next treatment, and the later numbness that lasts. I told him that I would like to continue because if it ever came back we we would both wonder if we could have done more. At one year after finishing chemo I'm still NED (starting with stage III c- with 13 positive nodes). However I do have ongoing peripheral neuropathy. So...it's not clear cut. If I were you and already had numbness and tingling in hands and feet and around your mouth that doesn't go away between treatments, I would stop. I do think it is an individual decision, but the prevalence of permanent neuropathy among those of us who have taken oxaliplatin is higher than they originally thought it would be.
Meanwhile, hang in there-listen to your heart, pray, and we'll all pray for you. You're so close and you are being very brave about taking your nasty chemo-I know it's hard many days. Soon you'll be better!

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2006

Hi Jen: Have the doctors said anything about survival rate if you stop? After 12 sessions what have been the signs that things are better? In you mind's eye, are things getting better or do you feel there is a false hope in continuing the treatments? And what have the doctors said about your treatment after the 12th one. Are you cured or are they anticipating 12 more treatments? As one replier stated, so to speak, when is enough enough.

I am just starting my treatments [2 down 3rd to come] and all I'm told is after the 4th we will re-assess. So what does that mean? "I don't know but let's continue the treatment to see if you do survive."

I sure would like to see some positive dialogue about survival, or isn't there any.

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

hi corrosion,

I'll dialogue with you about survival!!

So here's the scoop. I have survived almost (in August) FIVE years with No Evidence of Disease!

I was Stage 3 lymph pos (2/19) no mets sigmoid colon. The docs suggested adjuvant chemo and I said NO THANK YOU!

And here I am!

But I did lots of other things to get here.....I modified my diet to include a lot of juicing and macrobiotics and I pursued Eastern Medicine for healing such as acupuncture and massage and herbs and yoga etc etc.

And you know what? I have never experienced peripheral neuropathy, I do not fear secondary cancers or leukemia from the chemo, I do not have kidney or heart damage and I never had mouth sores or an Erbitux rash.

And I feel fabulous.

I'm not selling anything here. Just wanted to talk survival....it's more to me than just about being alive each day.....it's how GREAT I feel each day.

peace, emily who would stop chemo early absolutely if you're in pain and sick!

scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Jen,

I stopped chemo after 8 months. I did the same regime you did along with avastin, but the side effects were "killing me" or so I felt at the time. I was a shell of myself and with no surgery to cut out my tumors and no end in sight for the chemo, I decided to take my chance with a God given diet and supplements from a woman that has a PhD in clinical nutrition. That was 18 months ago and I am currently NED (no evidence of disease) and feel the best I have in years. Maura is so right about it being a very personal decision. Bud is also correct about listening to your body. I must warn you that you got cancer from your diet/lifestyle or from genetics. Either way, if you don't change some of your eating habits, it could very easily come back whether you do your last chemo session or not.

I wish you the best and please keep us posted.

Lisa P.

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4912
Joined: May 2005

Hi Jen,
My advise is to what the doctors are asking you to do. You've done 11, what's one more. I've done 61, had a short break for lung surgery, now I have 26 more to do (I had one yesterday so now it's 25) I don't want to do it but I feel that if I were to stop early and IT came back, I'd regret it. I know how much it stinks to do the chemo but God forbid something came up again I would think you'd want to know you played the game properly.
Hang in there Jen, you're not alone

Posts: 45
Joined: Nov 2005

Thank you for the advice and support. I'm still not 100% sure about whether I'll do my last chemo, but over the last several days I've felt my energy level come up and I'm feeling much better about things emotionally. And I think that may be the boost I need to get me through the last one. Still a little torn, but I'm feeling like I can do it.

Thank you again for the support. This is such a great group!


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