ANy info or ideas?

Hi folks
Just got back from hospital after mastectomy with immediate recon (the expander implant one) and am very painful. It eases a bit each day though. The mastectomy op etc was made worse by my having a chest infection (ie awful cough which hurt every time I did it) and 4 days of nausea and not being able to eat.

well I am back home and happily able to scoff chinese takeaways. NOW my problem was the shock of being told yesterday that they will be wanting me to have chemo. I was told I wouldn;t need it.

So Can I go back to work with the chemo or do I need to wait till it;s all over? I am a teacher and I’ve had 1 week off so far but really can’t imagine being at home for months. Secondly…How bad does it get? The nausea after the op was bad enough!

I’m 35 by the way and have a grade one cancer (no lymph nodes affected) which is why I THOUGHT I would escape chemo. Apparently if I have it and the tamoxifen, some survuval statistic I don’t understand goes up from 3.9% for tamoxifen only to 6.9% chemo. Is that good?

Help clear this up for me please!


Hi Ruth,

I am 35 too, was 34 when diagnosed in March. At the time of diagnosis, even before my mastectomy, I was told that I would be having chemo regardless, because of my age. As it turns out my tumour was grade 3 and I had lymph nodes involved too.

I started E-CMF chemo in May and finished it just over 2 weeks ago. I have not worked since diagnosis but am hoping for a phased return in Jan. Personally I don’t feel I could’ve worked during chemo. Don’t get me wrong, it is VERY doable, but I was just too much at risk of infection and stuff. Also, I would have a few days where I felt rough and then would be quite ok again. I’ll be bu**ered if I was gonna spend those precious ‘good’ days at work!! I have been very lucky though as I have remained on full pay throughout, I know many others that aren’t so fortunate and have no choice but to work.

When I started chemo I was very worried about the nausea and vomiting, which I knew was a very common side effect. Luckily my anti-sickness meds were nailed right from the start. Thankfully I never experienced any sickness and had fairly mild nausea. Travel bands worked a treat! There is no need to suffer at all, and if you do have a lot of sickness they can change your anti-sickness meds as there are a million they can give you. Check out the ‘top tips going through chemo’ thread on the ‘undergoing treatment - chemotherapy’ page,

I wish you well as you recover from your op and prepare to start chemo,

Take care,


Hi Ruth

I’m half way through my chemo and, although wasn’t working before this started I cancelled the part time post I was going to be taking up, and glad I did. The not so good days would’ve been a struggle, especially with some of the sets. When you are feeling at your teaching best - you are most open to infection and, being winter coming up, they will be much more prevelent! You don’t say what age you teach but, if it is KS4 then maybe you could just go in to support your year 11 group, or year 13? But, i would seriously consider taking some time off, reducing your hours at least. Chemo is very doable but your body has to repair in the time between sessions and that takes a lot of energy.

hope the pain eases soon and you feel like your old self again



x x x


You ask about the survival statistics. You need to know what your base line survival stats are. ie. Do you have 80% chance of 5 years survival or 60% or??? only then can you assess whether 6.9% is a lot better than 3.9%. (If you already had a 90% chance of survival you might think the difference wasn’t worth it but on 50% would be.) We all have different responses to risk.

Do you know your oestrogen and her2 receptor status? Something else to consider.

best wishes


Hi guys

Thanks so much for the responses. I guess I will try going back to work maybe a couple of days a week so I can teach my year 11 and year 12/13 kids. They are pretty much reliant on me as I am the only A level teacher. I will worry about the colds etc as I ended up having my mastectomy while dealing with a chest infection and cold which wasn;t the best combination. Maybe I should try a flu jab?

My base line survival stats for 10 years was 90% which i think is pretty good but I am starting to feel now that whatever they throw at me I should take. Did anyone out there wear a wig. I am a bit apprehensive about appearing in front of all the kids with no hair.

Keep in touch
Love Ruth


I decided to have chemo because it improved my chance of survival with no recurrence a fair bit, but my cancer was grade 3 so the prognosis wasn’t as good as yours.

Yes I wear a wig and people really don’t seem to know it is a a wig. I chose one which was as similar to my own style and colour as possible which helps. I didn’t wear it as much in the summer as it gets a bit hot but now it is fine.

Good luck whatever you decide


Hi Ruth

I am due to start chemo next week - I didn’t think I would want to wear a wig but after going to a look good feel good session and seeing them up close I have changed my mind - they looked really good - I got my prescription for my wig today and I got a buff for wearing round the house - my 11 year old got one to wear a few weeks ago as they are really trendy so I thought I would get in on the act - don’t want to scare the postman when I answer the door.

I had just been in a new job for two weeks when I was diagnosed so I just gave it up. I was glad to be having chemo as hopefully it will mop up anything that went walk about through my lymph nodes.

Take care Love Lenise XXX

Hi Ruth,

I think having chemo may be something to do with being pre-menopausal… that’s what I was told. I managed to work throught the chemo… took a couple of days off after each intravenous session, then once onto Xeloda tablets, I haven’t needed to take any days off. I was lucky and haven’t picked up any infections, and also fatigue hasn’t really been an issue… yes, I was careful at planning not such a demanding workload… I guess all these comments go to show how different everyone reacts to chemo, and it depends on which regime you’re on… I was on Epirubicin x 4 and Capcetabine (Xeloda) x 4.

Wigs… I never considered not having one, because I felt wearing a headscarf was much more identifiable as having no hair / having cancer. Numerous people don’t know I’ve had bc and am wearing a wig and numerous others have been truly shocked when after I tell them I’ve been wearing it for the past 3 months! Go for it girl!! I also didn’t feel it was too hot, but then up here in Scotland the summer wasn’t that hot!!!

Good luck… one day at a time. I felt strongly that by keeping working, it kept a degree of normality in my life, which is much-needed, as the whole bc thing is so consuming and can easily take over your life if you let it…

Alison x

Hi everyone
Thanks so much for your help. I have decided to have the chemo and it should start in a couple of weeks. I will be having doxorubicin followed by CMF for the last 2 ttreatments. I am keeping my fingers crossed for minimal side effects so I can go back to work. Is anyone out there having the same treatment as me?

thanks again

Ruth x

Hi Ruth
I am also a teacher and am just about to finish my Chemotherapy - Monday - can’t wait!!! I took the decision not to work during my chemo due to feeling unwell the first week, being prone to infection the second week (particularly with all the bugs going around schools and colleges) and wanting the only normal week to myself and family in order to be as physically and mentally strong as possible in prep for the next chemo. I am trying to use this time as ME time and know only too well when I return to work the pressure will be on. I haven’t had any trouble occupying myself and sometimes wonder how I had the time to work!!! I think it’s an individual thing. A friend of mine who also had bc and also a teacher decided to work during chemo and went in bald! Wasn’t for me though.
Good luck

These discussions just go to show how there are many different ways to deal with bc and everyone develops their own coping mechanisms… What’s important is finding just what is right for you… never mind anyone else!


Agree with AliS - also forget about the statistics!!!

We’re all individuals and a lot of us defy the statistics - just go for what is right for you as AliS says.

I’ve just had the flu jab (first time ever) because I’m back on chemo again and they suggested that my husband has it as well so we both trotted off to the surgery on Monday and I haven’t had any side effects from it except my arm feels a little tender. Am still conscious not to go near people who have colds etc and schools must be a breeding ground for them!