Anxious about starting FEC in Jan :(

Hi everyone
After having a lumpectomy on 7th Dec I have been told that i need to have 6 x fec and radio afterwards as my cancer was grade 3.
I am really nervous about the whole chemo treatment and i am really looking for some reassurance from all the lovely people on this site.
I was just wondering if anyone on here could give me some info on their side affects and wether or not they continued with working. I am a teaching assistant in school working with 6 year olds and i am not sure if i will be able to return due to infection!!!
Any helpful tips and comments would be gratefully appreciated…
Happy new year everyone xx
Kaz xx

Hi Kazza,

Yes, it is really worrying when you are told that! I remember thinking my life as i knew it was going to end forever!
As everyone will say side effects are different for everyone. I was very ill from the FEC for about 5 days then was able to go back to work and carry on as normal. I work in the theatre so was just careful to use the anti bac stuff on my hands and not go too near anyone! Not sure about working with kids, but am sure you will get some advice on here, you will probably be fine!
There are some good top tips threads on here and any time you ask a question you should get some really good advice.
Get some comfy clothes, good dvds, nice things to look forward to, nice smelling bath things, and remember its not forever!

Good luck
Georgina x

Hi Kaz i have just finished all my treatment 1st Nov and like you I had lumpectomy for a grade 3 lump and 6 x fec followed by 20 radiotherapy sessions and throughout it all i have not been too bad I did feel nauseous for about 4 days after and was actually sick a few times but i told the nurses this and was given extra sickness tablet called emend and after that had no more sickness at all so dont suffer in silence .I havent worked through treatment but this was because iam a nurse and work on the infection ward ( so it was a definate no no ) also with you working with children they get lots of coughs and snots and childhood infections so its probably not a good idea as youre immune system is compromised during chemo.I was lucky that i got full pay for 6 months and 1/2 pay topped up by employment support allowance for furthur 6 months ( which made it very little difference to full pay) so maybe this will be an option for you . good luck with youre treatment message me anytime if you need any tips xx Julie

Hi Kaz
I have just finished my radio therapy after chemo.
I worked throughout and was OK on the FEC, but they do advise to avoid risk of infections, so working with small children may be tricky.
I lost my hair just before my second treatment. It gave me terrible constipation (cured with prunes for breakfast) and I burped a lot. The steroids they give you for anti-sickness stopped me from sleeping, so I got some sleeping pills for that.
Good luck - it does go quicker than you think, and for me it certainly wasn’t as bad as I had feared

Hi Kaz,
Sorry to hear you are so anxious- the waiting does not help does it? I’ve done 3 FEC so far. It is not something you would want to do by choice, but do-able! I found my hair went on the first cycle. - about day 14ish. I cut mine short before I started, and then shaved off remains when it started to go. That worked for me, because I just wanted to get rid, once I knew it was happening, rather than clinging on, and watching day by day. Everyone is different though. Some people like to hold on to enough, so that they can at least look ‘normal’ in a hat. Body hair goes a little later. I’ve still got most of my lashes and eyebrows, but am on Tax next, so not expecting to keep them for long! I felt very sick on the first FEC, about 3 or 4 hours after the treatment, but wasn’t sick. the following time I was very very sick, and could not even keep my anti nausea meds down, so last time, on number 3, they gave me emend, and although I felt sick, that worked very well. For each of them, I’ve found my head very woozy, but after the first session, was off meeting friends the next morning, so it is not all bad. It is cumulative though, so am feeling more tired and delicate now. Just be kind to yourself would be my advice. Don’t compare what you can and can’t do with other people, and accept you might not be up to accepting the odd invitation, or shopping trip etc Also, try and rest before you really really have to…don’t push yourself. That’s what I find really hard! I still feel guilty somehow when I sit on the sofa, or watch TV!
Best of luck- Tracey

Hi Kaz,

I have two young children, and one of their teachers has also got breast cancer. We speak regularly and i know she was advised by her oncologist not too go to work due too the high risk of infection from the children.

I got an infection on my 3rd cycle of fec and was in hospital for 5 days - it was not a nice experience - doable but not something i would risked again, and was so careful afterwards.

I have now finished by chemo and would definately agree with the other ladies on here in that it is the cumulative effect of the drugs - i had absolutely no probs with the 1st cycle but the following cycles got progressively worse. I, like the other ladies ended up on emend for my 4th and 5th cycles. They dont give you emend unless you ask for it - very expensive i believe.

In my experience the thought of this treatment is worse than the actual doing!! Get loads of support and have a carer/friend at hand to help you with the awful bits and any jobs that need doing such as cooking your meals, washing, ironing etc, etc, etc.

Always remember the side effects do lessen during the 3 week gap and you normally have 1-2 weeks of feeling normalish!!

I am only 3 weeks out of my last chemo and feel remarkably well and i know it will get better and better… and i am getting my hair back!!

Take care of yourself, look after your body and leave someone else to look after your house - there will always be dust…


Hi Kaz,

I’m about to have FEC 6. I’m been fairly well but haven’t worked. I’m a teacher and just wouldn’t have been able to cope. It isn’t just the physical effect, probably more the mental. I pride myself on being a strong person but am not strong enough to be strong for my pupils and myself. I miss them terribly tho and they know it and I’ve been told they miss me too.

I AM well enough to work some of the time but not as a teacher. It’s probably a very individual thing tho.


I have just had FEC 6(yesterday) and have been generally fine…so far. I too am a teacher and havent worked during chemo, too much risk of infection. I found that if I drank loads on the day before chemo, during chemo and day after it helps with constipation , and sickness. Also, i play a little game with myself…sad I know. The E bit turns your wee red, and the game I played is to get normal urine colour as soon as possible. Its a good barrometer of how well hydrated you are. my record is 6 hours. Well done me lol. Another thing is that they find your vein for the iv easier if you are well watered.
hope this helps. I was also given a mouthwash my advice is to use it from day 1 until you finish it. It was called Difflam. My onc believes in stopping problems before they start.
x sarah

Hiya, I have had my first FEC, and it wasn’t too dreadful. I didn’t suffer from nausea at all (thank god for the meds), but did feel absolutely wiped out during the second half of the first week - the first few days was just feeling a bit woolly headed, but days 4,5,6 there is no way I could have driven a car, let alone tried to work.

I work in a school kitchen, and have been advised that a school environment is not a good place to be during chemo - infection rates are too great - plus, you need to be on top of your game to work with aspergers teens (as I do), and I am nowhere near that! I miss it terribly, but have kept in close contact with my colleagues, and chemo doesn’t last forever. My onc. was very supportive about the idea of working through chemo - until she heard where I work!!

Physically/mentally - I’m in the second week now, and I feel absolutely fine, so on that basis, I wouldn’t have worked the first week, but could prob. have done two and three… BUT the fatigue is progressive throughout chemo - so even if you get no other side effects, by the time you come to the 4th, 5th and beyond, you won’t be ‘normal’ by any means.

Take care, keep posting on here, there is so much support. It is crap, but we can do it.

Sophie xx

Hi Kaz

I’m a headteacher in a primary school and I’ve been off work since my first op (I was only in school for three days at the beginning of September). Due to the infection risk and feeling grotty my GP who happens to be my Chair of Governors has signed me off until my treatment is finished. Most teacher’s/school staff I have heard of tend to be signed off for the duration. As well as the infection risk, as school tends to be a plague pit at this time of year, it’s also a matter of the fact that you don’t know how you will feel and being ok one day and not the next isn’t good for school. I’ve only had two chemo doses so far but I’ve found days 1 to 4 I feel sick and then days 5 to 12 your immune system is at it’s lowest and just as you get your strength back it’s time for another dose. I do pop into school when I’m feeling ok and my immune system is not at it’s weakest.

As regards advice etc on the thread starting my pink road on page 2 I think is a list of stuff which you may find useful.

You’re welcome to pm me if I can be of any help

Take care

Reeb x

Hi Kaz
I have just finished 6 lots of FEC after a lumpectomy. Side effects differ from person to person but overall I haven’t found them too bad. I was sick a couple of times after the first one but since then I’ve had an extra anti-sickness drug (cyclizine) at the end of each treatment and that did the trick, I’ve only had a bit of mild nausea since then. I’ve found that I don’t feel too bad the first 3-4 days after the treatment, then from days 5-10 my energy levels have gone down but gradually come back up during the second half of the cycle. I’ve chosen not to work as my job involves a lot of dealing with people and their problems and I felt I had enough with my own for the time being! I think the main thing is to listen to your body and don’t try and do too much. I like to walk and have found it helpful to try and get out for a walk each day even if it’s just ten minutes round the block - though there have been plenty of days when I’ve gone further, especially in the third week of each cycle when I’ve been feeling much better.
For some people the side effects seem to be cumulative but to be honest I found I was less tired after FEC 4 and 5 then I was after the first three. It’s been a bit worse after 6 but that’s probably the effect of Christmas as much as anything!
I hope you will get on OK. I’m sure you will find lots of support on this site.
Take care,

Hi Kazza,
I’m starting Fec in a week, on the 5th, so maybe we can compare notes and share some gripes.

wow thanku so much everyone for your kind words of support and encouragement. I will certainly take on board everyones advise and listen to my body!! What a lovely reassuring site this is!!!
I am certainly considering not returning to work now untill all of this is over (6 yr olds can be very demanding as i guess most of you understand)!! I will talk this over with the nurse when i have to see her on the 5th.

Well Ladies you all take very good care of yourselves and a very big thanku again

Kaz x

im having cemo, 6 x fec,
its going quite fast and when u start your treatment its liek you can see an end to it all.
we are all here to help
hugs xxxxxxxxx

My treatment ( lumpectomy / chemo / radiotherapy ) was also for a grade 3 lump and i had 6 x FEC. I hope you have a similar experience to mine. I was not sick at all, or even nauseous, although i felt a little bit iffy for a day or 2 after each cycle. I am grateful that i was able to continue working (teaching at college) part time although I did have concerns over catching infections. My chemo began just as last year’s swine flu hit a massive crescendo in the summer, and i wasn’t sure i was doing the right thing by working. However it worked out fine for me - luckily no infections, even though my cell count was very low a couple of times and chemo had to be postponed. Keeping as much of my life as normal as poss was important to me though, and looking back im certain that helped me through the seemingly never-ending treatments. My one problem was the FEC buggered up my veins and i needed a PICC line in my arm. My only regret is that i didnt push for a PICC line sooner as i found it upsetting to see and feel my veins grow as hard as concrete. However lots of people don’t have any vein problems at all. I hope you have a reasonable time on FEC. Another thing, i was prescribed a sedative before each cycle. Worked for me and stopped me stressing. Very good luck to all about to embark on chemo. Do take heart that while you are probably wise to prepare for a bumpy ride, it may not be so bad for you.

Hi Kaz

I’ve just finished 6 FEC and am starting radiotherapy week after next. I didn’t vomit but was nauseous, a couple of cycles all the way through. I had planned to work when I felt ok, but as it turned out, I didn’t work at all. Probably better to take things as they come and not beat yourself up if it turns out you can’t work.

It’s not fun but it will go in much more quickly than you think.
Lilac x

I too am starting FEC on the 12th Jan…dreading it in on sense but kind of just want to get on with it now, the waiting is horrible… hope it goes ok for everyone xxx

Me too, starting 3Fec and 3Tax on 13th Jan!
Started feeling nervous today…hope we can help each other through?


hiya, i have had 2 FEC so far, i like you was very anxious and didnt know what to expect. I was sick for about 36 hours after and then gradually got better. I couldnt lift my head from my pillow for the frist day but it does get better and after a few days I was fine. My hair started to fall out 3 weeks from the first FEC and is now nearly all gone, eyebrows and other body hair ok at the mo! People on here have been great and give me support and advice. Its natural to be anxious I think. Also if people offer help, accept, I couldnt go through this withougt the support of of my friends and family who have been great, my husband fantastic. xxx

Sarah, Peachez, Kaz-
Good luck all of you for the first treatment in the new year,