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chemo break?

Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Everyone,
dx March 2004, stage 2 rectal cancer. since then recurrences in both lungs, surgery on each lung and lots of chemo.
I currently have one spot in my left lung that my latest scans showed as decreased.
I am considering taking a chemo break because my quality of life sucks right now, but I'm afraid that if I do the cancer may get away.
Has anyone taken a chemo break and if so what were the results? How long of a break did you take? Any information would be helpful!

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Jamie,
I don't have any personal experience with this. But, I understand this is becoming a trend in treatment. I try to read some of the research (journal articles and conference papers) in CRC and see this mentioned more and more. I don't know the details about success rates, etc. but my impression is that they can be quite good. Maybe your oncologist can supply you with some details (if you are interested in such things). It seems to me a good idea. Of course quality of life is important. This may be just the thing you need. Best wishes to you.

Posts: 304
Joined: Dec 2005

I understand your dilemma. My husband (stage IV - 10/04) has had the same decision to make. Unfortunately or fortunately -not sure which to say...John has been on erbitux(weekly) and Irinotecan(biweekly) since 10/05. He has had a few "forced" breaks due to medical reasons and one to attend our son's wedding(all went wonderful!). For him, if he takes more than one week off-he has pain which is now controlled, but becomes uncontrollable when off the chemo. (makes no sense, but true for him) Also, his cancer has had slight--very slight progression when any extended break occurred. But, his main reason for being fearful of stopping is the pain issue. Hopefully, that is not one you are dealing with.

I am not sure if this is the answer you wanted to hear. I do believe though if you choose to take a break - you must monitor closely so you would be aware of any changes that may occur.

After 3 1/2 years of being the caregiver for my husband, I do strongly believe that as much as there is set protocols to follow with colon cancer...each person has their own journey with unique traits that can only make decisions based on listening to yourself. I believe you will know what is right for you at the time and after gathering all your info will know that answer. Once a decision is made - do not second guess yourself. None of us know the outcomes and we must always keep believing in miracles and find peace in our decisions.
Keeping you in my prayers.
Mary Kay

Posts: 84
Joined: Dec 2007

Hello. I was dx in Oct 2006 with stage 4 colon cancer w/ mets to liver and lungs. Surgery on liver and lungs has never been an option. So I'm not in quite the same situation as you. I've been on chemo off and on since Nov 2006. My dr recently gave me a break because 1) I needed to feel well to travel to my son's wedding, 2) the treatments had put a halt to tumor growth, and 3) she thought it would be good to give my body a chance to recover from chemo. I had a total of 8 weeks off between treatments. At first I felt good, but after a while old symptoms returned. BY the time the break was over, I had a CT scan that showed the cancer was growing. I'm back on chemo now, and waiting to see what is going to happen. I've read elsewhere that breaks are good for you, but how long is a question. I know I get sick of being on chemo. I 'm always glad for my week off between treatments ( I get folfiri + Avastin two weeks in a row, then a week off ). Quality of life is important. In my situation, the goal of my treatments is to keep the cancer at bay, so I can enjoy life. I have never been led to believe I could be disease free. Right now, my husband and I have made plans for a vacation in three months. I don't know what my status will be then. But, Lord willing, I am going on that trip. I am telling my doctor I am taking a few weeks off so I can feel good and do it. And a few months later we are going to take a shorter trip for our anniversary. Our trips won't be full of fun-filled adventure, but they are somethig pleasant for me to look forward to. And that helps my outlook on life. What I am trying to say is, try a break. Decide for yourself. And realize that if the cancer raises it's ugly head, you can go back to chemo. But you would have had had your break, and maybe a good lift to your spirit in the process. Have you ever discussed a break with your doctor? Have you ever been off chemo before?

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