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Stage 2. I was given the choice of Chemo or no Chemo.

kapeterson's picture
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2011

I was diagnosed with breast Cancer March 31st. The doctors removed the lump and lymph nodes. Friday the oncologist said to do radiation and hormone therapy. And said that I'm a gray matter, that I can do chemotherapy or not. It's my choice.
I'm having a tough time with this. Is there anyone out there that has had a similar experience. Or anyone with any advice please.
Thank you, Karen

butterflylvr's picture
Posts: 944
Joined: Apr 2011

Hi Karen,

Sorry I can't be of much help, but I just wanted to welcome you to the board. You didn't say if they found cancer in your lymph nodes? I'm assuming not, or chemo would have probably been requested. I've heard of others not having to do chemo, maybe you're just one of the lucky ones. I wish you the best, and I am sure one of the other girls will be of more help.


kapeterson's picture
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2011

Thank you!

I guess that would have been some helpful information.
YES, there was one lymph node with cancer.


Heatherbelle's picture
Posts: 1227
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Karen,
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 months after I was. Hers was so tiny (less than a centimeter) and was caught by her annual mammogram -her doc noticed a change from the previous year. So, it was super small and caught very early. At her initial appointments her oncologist told her that she wouldn't have to have chemo, that the tumor was so small, and wasn't there a year ago, therefore they were catching it in the earliest stages, he was sure it hadn't spread. Mom went in for her lumpectomy, and during the sentinel node biopsy the 1st lymph node was cancerous. Thank God none of the others were, but since that node had cancer in it, they changed her treatment plan and she did have 6 rounds of chemo, followed by radiation. In my treatment, I wasn't given a choice. My tumor was 2.5 cm and I was 34 at diagnosis, chemo is pretty standard for younger women with BC because it tends to be more aggressive. Given a choice, though, I probably still would have had the chemo. To give myself the piece of mind that I had done everything in my power to fight it. Especially with having 1 positive node, I would do it. Chemo is systemic -meaning it attacks cancer cells ANY where in your body where the little buggers may have gone off to & tried to set up home. Chemo is most definately not fun, in fact it's been the hardest thing i've ever done, but it IS do-able and it does save lives. Best of luck to you, and know that we will support you here whatever your decision will be.
ps-i hope Stacy chimes in -she recently was faced with the same decision of whether or not to have chemo & she ended up taking the chemo. I'm sure she could relate & maybe offer some advice.

Kylez's picture
Posts: 3765
Joined: May 2009

For me, if I had one lymph node that was positive, I would do chemo. I was very lucky though and mine was negative.

Good luck with your decision.

Hugs, Kylez

Posts: 633
Joined: Jul 2010

Given technology and treatments have changed so much in the past 10 years, I'm not how much help I can be. 10 years ago (this september) I was diagnosed with stage II BC. I did not have any positive lymph nodes, but my oncologist and surgeon both HIGHLY recommended chemo. My oncologist explained to me that there is no way of knowing if one little cell was floating around or not. And being that I was only 35 at the time, the risk of having it develop or spread was higher than women in an older age group.

I took their advice and so happy I did. I've known too many women that have passed on the chemo (some with no positive nodes, some with one) that have paid dearly for forging it. Yes, it's hard. But if it's gonna save your life 3, 5, 10 years down the line, then I would seriously consider going through it.

Only you can make that decision for yourself. It's not easy I know, but for me it was a no brainer. I did all that was offered to me so I could rest easier knowing I wouldn't ever have to look back and have regrets and the "if only" question buzzing around in my head!

Given that you had one lymph node come up positive, I'm surprised your oncologist didn't recommend it. You may want to get a second opinion from a oncologist that specializes in BC only, if that is something you haven't done yet and your insurance allows it. It's well worth it IMO.

Keep us posted on your decision and progress.


sea60's picture
Posts: 2617
Joined: May 2010

especially when you need advice and direction. I was staged between a 2-3 with no node involvemenmt and my Oncologist highly recommended Chemo. I had 6 rounds. I know everyone's different but I wonder what your Oncologist would suggest if it were his/her Mother? Sister?

I know it's all about avoiding a recurrence. I hope and pray you get some good advice and guidance.

I pray a lot, especially when I need some insight on a decision. It always helps.



margz35's picture
Posts: 53
Joined: Apr 2011

I am in the same boat. I had my sentinel lymph nodes removed for DCIS and the first one had 9mm on IBC so yes, I am doing chemo. The 2nd one was benign and 6 further auxiliaries were too.
Please consider chemo - it is a tough choice, and I am fortunate to only being doing 4 x rounds of TC. It is just God's way of putting life on hold for a bit to take care of business - you have many years ahead of you!!!!
Sending you hugs,

Hippiechick58's picture
Posts: 320
Joined: Feb 2011

Hi Karen, welcome to this amazing site! It sounds like you're having a real dillema! I wasn't given a choice, as I had to have both chemo and rads, and am doing my rads now, but the way I get through it is I look at it as Life Insurance. It insures(sic) that I will continue to live. I'm sure you'll make the right decision for you. Good luck with everything and please, keep us posted!

Be Well,

Posts: 2515
Joined: May 2009

A positive lymph node I wouldn't hesitate to have chemo....I was stage II with NO lymph node involvement...and had both chemo and rads...I am surprised, although everyone is different, that your oncologist didn't recommend chemo with having a positive node...which means the cancer had spread beyond the breast....although the remaining ones that were removed were negative....I think Diane said it best....""life insurance"...

Chemo is no day at the beach, but is doable...perhaps you might want to get a second opinion to help in making your decision...also, what type of BC were you diagnosed with?

Wishing you the best in making your decision...

susie09's picture
Posts: 2933
Joined: Jul 2009

I didn't have to make this choice Karen, but, I can imagine how difficult it is for you.

I pray that your doctors really evaluate your situation and tell you what they would do if it were someone in their family, a loved one.

Good luck and hugs!

Cinkal's picture
Posts: 161
Joined: Jan 2011

I would get a second opinion. I was stage 2 A with no lymph node involvement. I was not given a choice. I am currently on round three of 8 chemo treatments. I will have radiation following the chemo.

VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9080
Joined: Aug 2009

a 2nd opinion. If possible, check to see if there are any 'Breast Cancer Specialist' in your Health network, or call around to large cancer centers and find one. Once you find a Specialist, go on line and see if they are current -- in teaching, research, and published.

It is your body, your life -- be your own 'best' health advocate.

Strength, Courage and Hope.

Vicki Sam

butterflylvr's picture
Posts: 944
Joined: Apr 2011


I just happened to think about a conversation me and my oncologist had when discussing my treatment course. Each procedure you have done is another course of action to prevent the cancer from coming back. When I had chemo that left me for example about a 75%(not accurate figure, just showing example)chance of the cancer not re-occurring. My Mastectomy gave me better odds of 85%. Radiation now brought it up to 90% and my hormone therapy later will maybe get me a 95 % chance of survival. Nobody or no treatment will ever get you to 100% chance of survival, but everything adding up increases those odds.

I myself wouldn't have had to do radiation (not lymph node positive)but my tumor came in contact with my skin (skin sparing mastectomy)so it's a preventative thing. I would say if your insurance covers you, go for peace of mind. I opted to remove my healthy breast for that reason alone. Nobody wants to go through this all over again.

I am assuming you had a lumpectomy too right? Shame on your oncologist for putting this decision on your shoulders. That's what he/she is getting paid for, they are the ones with the expertise. Let us know what you decide and we will be there for you.


Posts: 429
Joined: Dec 2009

I was stage II with one lymph node involved. I was not given the choice. 4 cycles of Cytoxan and Taxotere and 33 radiation treatments, now on Tamoxefin.

No question, I would do it even if I had the choice! I wanted to throw everything I could at the beast.

Good luck with your decision! Oh, and second opinion sounds like a good idea!

Ritzy's picture
Posts: 4382
Joined: Aug 2009

A 2nd opinion might be a good thing to do. I always thought that if even one node wasn't clean, that you had to have chemo.

Sorry this is so unclear to you. Wishing you good luck.

Sue :)

Posts: 3645
Joined: Aug 2009

I was never given an option - had to have neo-adjunct Chemo before surgery could be 'talked' about. More Chemo and Rads after.

Boppy_of_6's picture
Posts: 1138
Joined: Apr 2010

I was grade 1 stage 1 IDC no nodes involved. My ONC strongly encouraged chemo and rads. He said because I was so young (had just turned 49) I did not argue with him. My Med. Onc is great. I did 4 rounds of chemo and 30 rads and have been on Tamoxifen for over 8 months. I would do the same treatment over again if I could go back and do it over. I agree with others the more I could do to fight it the better. Best wishes. God Bless
(((hugs))) Janice

Posts: 358
Joined: Mar 2011

I am not sure what your other stats are. I am stage 1 and am also in the gray area, but my doctor didn't give me a choice. He told me if I was in in the intermediate or high range for Oncotype I would get chemo, so I started treatments on Friday. I am glad I didn't have to make the decision myself. Your other stats would have a lot to do with it though. What is your tumor grade? Mine was 3 so that made a difference. We also still have an 11 y/o at home and I want to increase my chances of seeing her graduate from HS and college. I'm 52 and if I were anywhere under 65 and had a grade 2 or 3 tumor I would error on the side of caution and go with the chemo. But that's just me. Good luck to you and prayers for your wisdom with such a difficult decision!


dyaneb123's picture
Posts: 951
Joined: May 2009

Yeah, I have to agree with the others that usually stage 2 with lymph node involvement would suggest Chemo. That is my diagnosis too, and I had chemo and rads with stage 2 and only 1 positive node.Now, my Onc. did say that I was borderline on needing rads, but chemo was never a question. Rads were required because the surgeon said the margins were't clean enough. A 2nd opinion might ease your mind.

Lighthouse_7's picture
Posts: 1566
Joined: Jan 2010

Sorry you have to go through such a tough decision. I wasn't given a choice, I was Stage 3 with 8 nodes involved.
I remember trying to "bargain" with the doctor ( looking back it was so foolish ) but I was so afraid of chemo that I asked if I had a mastectomy could I skip chemo?
The answer was no, so I opted for the lumpectomy which they assured me was enough for the location and shape of the tumor.

Chemo isn't great, but it's very doable. The drugs that they have now help a lot with the side effects. It's much different than the stories I've heard from years ago. I think chemo is still in the realm of so scary that we should all remind any newbies that it isn't something to be petrified of. I know I sure was!

We are all different, as you'll read here all the time. I can only tell you of my own experience and hope that somehow it helps in your decision.

I wish you the best in making the decision.


Angie2U's picture
Posts: 2992
Joined: Sep 2009

I had no node involvement, so, I had a lumpectomy with rads only. I would encourage a 2nd opinion also, but, with the involvement with your one node, I also would think chemo would be a prerequisite.

Hugs, Angie

Posts: 402
Joined: Nov 2010

I was first diagnosed with Stage 0 DCIS but after the lumpectomies (had to have a 2nd to get clean margins), I was restaged as Stage 1C IDC, 0/4 nodes and triple negative. My onc said he'd STRONGLY recommend chemo because of the triple negative even though I had no nodal involvement and was only Stage 1. That was a shocker for me, because up until that point, I thought I was Stage 0 and only had to have rads (which was worrying me enough).
While chemo is no picnic, I would do it again if I had to. I survived it very nicely and after almost 4 months, my hair is growing back and my side effects have pretty much gone away totally. I'm a bit more tired than usual and my knees ache--which I think is from being overweight, but I am getting back into the swing of things now.
I'm glad I did EVERYTHING possible to give myself the best chance at not having a recurrence. There are no hormones for me to take so all treatment is over other than quarterly checkups.
Now I'm working on enjoying my life.
Good luck with your decision.

carkris's picture
Posts: 4554
Joined: Aug 2009

I would do chemo and advocate strongly for a second opinion. Do they do oncotype testing.I fthey do perhaps it can give you more info to make a decison.

Megan M's picture
Megan M
Posts: 3001
Joined: Dec 2009

Wishing you the best in whatever you do.

Hugs, Megan

Stace_aka_Pollyanna's picture
Posts: 78
Joined: Oct 2010

Karen, I, too, was given the choice -- without any regret whatsoever, I did tackle the chemo and it is SOOOO doable you'd be a fool not to go through with it!! Listen honey, get your Onco to send your cancer out for testing -- ONCOtype DX is a test preformed on YOUR cancer and it tells you the risk of recurrence. I was DX last August with IDC stage 1 but grade 3 (at 40 years old). The onco test told me I had a recurrence score of 22; with radiation that number came down to 14; then finally with a specific chemo regimen I could get it to 9!!! AT that point, for me, there was no question. From there the choice is up to you but once you have cold hard numbers in front of you the choice will be as plain as the nose on your face :)

Do it sister -- do whatever they offer you to stay "clean" -- for if there is a day years from now that the cancer rears its ugly head, you'll kick yourself in the tush for not doing everything in your power TODAY to avoid it!!

Trust me -- you can get through chemo and everything else when you realize YOU, not the DAMN CANCER, are the one CONTROLLING this disease!! You've got every one of us in your back pocket -- now, get on out there and kick some butt!!

Blessings and hugs and all the strength you need to succeed,

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2791
Joined: Jun 2010

and your general health. That may mean a second opinion. Read all you can, ask all the questions you can think of and then have someone with you to ask more. You also might want to check the NCCN guidelines for the standard recommended treatments for your particular cancer.

They do sometimes do an oncotype test for Stage 2 estrogen positive, node negative breast cancer, but I don't know about Stage 2, node positive. Have you asked if it would be useful for you?

Chemo is nasty stuff. The treatments themselves are one set of issues. The long-term, or late effects is another. I had chemo. Very doable, but not fun. My oncotype score was high, so it was a no brainer. I'd do it again in a heartbeat because I felt the benefits for me definitely outweighed the risks. Whether they did or not, no one will know for sure. We're individuals.

Get all the facts you need so you will make an informed decision.

Best wishes,

kapeterson's picture
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2011

Thank you Everyone!

There are a lot of numbers and acronyms that have been asked that I don’t know the meaning of i.e. “rads”.
I will get those numbers tomorrow when I get my second opinion.
I do know that I am estrogen positive and my margins are clear.

I had a partial hysterectomy years ago. I have one ovary.
The Oncologist said he will run blood test to see if it’s a producing ovary. That will make the deciding choice of Tamoxifen or Arimidex. After the chemo and radiation.

I want to hit this aggressively and doing whatever it takes,Chemo looks like the way.

Thank you all for your support!

The reason I questioned chemo, is because my friend, who had stage 4, went with me to my Oncologist appt. After she and I left the Oncologists office she said to me, “NO WAY ARE YOU DOING CHEMO.”

She later apologized and told me that she would support me in any choice I make, while in the same breath scaring the crap out of me telling me about the side effects.

She said I will be SICK, my bones will ache, I will vomit a lot, and I will not want to get out of bed.

Of course I found this site I(Discussion Board). I’m sure my chemo won’t be as aggressive as hers, since I am stage two, compared to her stage 4, she was also HER2/Neu positive. I don’t know if that had something to do with her dose and her reaction to chemo.

I want to thank you all for you advice. I’m glad I found you all.
Thank you, Karen

Angie2U's picture
Posts: 2992
Joined: Sep 2009

Glad you found us too Karen and that we could help you in even a small way.

Good luck and keep us updated.

Hugs, Angie

Gabe N Abby Mom's picture
Gabe N Abby Mom
Posts: 2415
Joined: Sep 2010

Pretty much everyone here is saying go ahead and do the chemo. I feel compelled to back up a little and say do the research and then make the decision. I would suggest that you get the names of the chemo meds and then look up their side effects and how they attack cancer cells. What are the possible long term effects of these drugs? Many of us are dealing with long term permanent changes to our bodies as a result of chemo. I think you should be prepared and I place a high value on information, so arm yourself with that in making your choice. What advantages does chemo give you? what are the disadvantages and risks? What result is your doc expecting if you have the chemo?

Surgery and radiation are targeted treatments, they attack cancer cells at the site of origin. Chemo is a systemic treatment, it attacks all fast growing cells (healthy or not) throughout your body. It is because chemo is such a powerful poison that we get the many side effects that can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, neuropothy, dry skin, rashes, achy joints, etc.

I think part of your research should be to look for other posts here about preparing for chemo. There have been many. Use the search box and type in chemo, or if you have the names of your chemo meds search for them.

All that being said, for me chemo definitely wasn't fun. But I got through it. I will also say that where I had choices in my treatment, I have consistently chosen the most aggressive course of action.

Whatever you choose to do, you will get support here. I wish you wisdom in this incredibly difficult decision.



P.S. Rads is short for radiation treatments.

Posts: 402
Joined: Nov 2010

vomitting and said that to my onc. He told me that there are drugs to stop that (which I took and they did), I never once threw up during my 6 treatments. He also told me that the only side effects (besides the loss of hair) that he was unable to treat are the ones that he doesn't know about--so I was told to call anytime I felt anything that didn't feel normal.

Everyone handles drugs differently, our bodies are each unique.

My husband said to me last night that if I had not wanted to do chemo, he would have fought me on that decision because wants me to be around a long time (we'd only been married 4 months when I was diagnosed--at 57).

Do your research, better before than after, so that you can feel good about your decision.

Good luck,

laughs_a_lot's picture
Posts: 1369
Joined: Mar 2011

Chemo is supposed to be easier as far as the nausea now days than in the past. How long ago did your friend have chemo? Some people go through chemo and continue to work jobs. That is a clue that not all people get highly sick with it.

I am sure that the insurance companies would love it if more people had a choice like this so that perhaps they would not be obligated to pay for expensive treatment. You are the most important to the world to yourself and your family. Given that fact you will have to make a decision that honors your best interests.

Posts: 653
Joined: Oct 2012

Not sure what to tell you.  For me, the chemo and rads came about because I did have one lymph node affected.

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