Anyone refused chemo?

I have just undergone mastectomy and immediate reconstruction.
Everything was clear all tests clear.
I have been offered chemo. Cant see why I should put myself through more
treatment when I am all clear… I am still recovering from op and feel shattered.
Family dont want me to go through anything else, neither do I.
Has anybody else had this dilemna?

Hi Fudgey,
I have had very different to you I had chemo first, 4 EC and 4 Tax, then lumpectomy and full clearence,recovering from 2 ops in four weeks at moment, then on to rads,and tamoxifen. A friend of mine had had lumpectomys and had signs in lymph nodes and was not offered chemo but ovary removal, when asked for reason why, they explained % of survival was only slightly higher if she had it, but knowing facts for and against she could make decision ,so she decided to go for chemo and not ovary removal and has now finished. Sometimes my BC nurse says chemo will only give people 1or 2% higher survival rate and people decide not to take it, or some hosp decide not to give it, as happened with my friend without consultation with patient.

May be you can ask them why they suggest chemo if all is clear? % if you have it or not etc, it might help to understand their suggestion, there must be a reason they are suggesting it, better to know. Good luck
Let us know what they say and you decide,
Dawn X

Hi Fudgey

How old are you if you don’t mind me asking?

Something I have learned very quickly is that no two women with BC are the same - everything from the type/grade of BC, the extent of surgery they need and the combinations of Chemotherapy/Radiotherapy/hormone therapy etc etc, always differs from woman to woman.

Personally, I was told I should have chemo because I was diagnosed with BC less than a month after my 34th birthday, They said that although the cancer was found early and the other tests they ran suggest it had NOT spread, they recommended Chemo and Radiotherapy because I am less than half way through my life expectancy and they want to do everything they can to reduce the risk of cancer re-occuring. Before they put it to me like that my first instinct was to refuse it because I could not face 6 months of being in and out of hospital and having the associated side effects. But I was told that unless a person has a good reason NOT to undergo Chemo then if their specialist recommends it they should have it.

You say you were “offered” chemo but there is a difference between an offer and a recommendation. To me, and offer is to give a person a choice of something they might not necessarily need but might want. Whereas a recommendation is something they might not necessarily want but it would be in their best interests to have.

Please think carefully before refusing chemo. OK it is no picnic but it is do-able (as many women said to me before I started going through my own treatment) Think how you felt when you were first worried you had cancer and then had to go for tests and the agnoising wait for results and how it felt to have your worst fears confirmed and having to tell your family and friends and then go through the operation etc etc. If a course of chemo could reduce the chances of having to do all that is it worth it? To me it is well worth it.

Good luck xx

Hi Fudgey

I too had mx and immediate recon. and was told that there was no lymph or vascular invasion, but I was still offered chemo or rads. The chemo would give me 4% extra and the rads probably only 2%. I decided I did not want to go through chemo, but I asked for the rads as the tumour was large (4.8cm) and only 2.5mm from the chest wall and the oncologist was happy to go ahead. I had 25 sessions and feel happy with my choice. If anything happens in the future I can have chemo then is the way I looked at it, but it is a personal choice and depends on your age too.

The greatest benefit is from the tamoxifen, (6-7%) so I feel I am covering things having done 3 out of the 4 options.

Good luck with your decision making

Hi Fudgey

i totally agree with Clarabel. Your oncologist would have thought long and hard before offering you chemo. I didnt even get offered chemo because it was totally unecessary so they must in your case think its benefits outweigh any risks. I think the dilemma you face is that why if you are in the clear, put yourself through more? However, cancer is a funny thing and although you could be all clear, there could well tiny bits of cancer lurking undetected that could return. It is much much better to prevent it returning that wait to see if it does and then have to fight it once its got hold. If a specialist has offered it s/he must have extremely good reasons for doing so as they do not suggest chemo without a lot of thought. I have taken everything I have been offered because I am scared to death that if it returns, I will not be so lucky next time


Hello Fudgey

I think as others have said that you need more information from your oncologist before you can make an informed decision.

First of all you should know that the phrase ‘all clear’ isn’t really used of breast cancer because breast cancer can spread through the lymph or blood systems and reappear months or years after the original cancer. Tiny cells known as micro metasteses can be present in other parts of your body. Breast cancer it a systemic disease, not just a disease confined to the breaat.

The risk of breast cancer spreading depends on many factors such as whether you have lymph nodes with cancer and what kind of cancer it was. For some people with aggresisve breast cancer chemotherapy is strongly recommended, in other cases it is not recommended and then in still other cases patients are ‘offered’ chemo but the benefits may not be clear cut. I think you need to ask your oncologist what % difference having chemotherapy would make to your prognosis. For example you might have a good prognosis with likelihood of 85% chance of long term survival with chemotherapy adding say 2% to that figure, or someone could have a poorer prognosis with say 45% chance of 5 year survival with chemo making a further 10% improvement.

Everyone’s cancer is slightly different and each of us has a different attitude to risk. Chemotherapy does have side effects and some people consider in their case that the problems outweigh the benefits; others decide differently.

So get some more information so you can really make an informed decision.

best wishes


Thank you all for your support.
Just to answer a few of your questions. I am 58 yrs old. Was diagnosed with BC 12 years ago.Had a partial mast, rads and Tamoxifen.Now new primary in same breast. Had Mastect and immediate recon 6 weeks ago…Found lump in November and just have got to this stage - that is 6 months. Had CT scan and bone scan - all clear. Lymph nodes clear. Margins clear and tissue removed was all clear. Cancer was grade 3, oesdtrogen and Herceptin negative. Progesterone positive 2%.

As you can imagine I have just had enough of hospitals and to be told that chemo was a possibility is just devastating for me. I will also have to have further surgery
for a nipple and uplift on my other breast to make them match.

chemo will be for 5 months and therefore I will have spent a year of my life sorting all this out. another 5 months of treatment which may not be a necessity.

Totally confused and don’t know what to do.
My family don’t want me to go through any more.


Hi fudgey

I’m understand why you are confused… all the waiting can be so stressful and you just want it to be over with.

i am 48 and have elected to have chemo in a similar position to you… all cancer had been removed. mine was also grade 3 but her2 positive.

i suggest you ask to talk to an oncology consultant so you get all the facts about what benefit chemo would give you. for example, they gave me a figure of 6% improvement on survival beyond 10 years

After that It may be worth contacting your breast cancer nurse or a macmillan nurse to talk through all the issues… just so you are sure you are making the right decision for you

for me the issue was… suffer now and have less worry about recurrence in the future
or say no, avoid horrible chemo, get it over with quicker but then live with the feeling i may not have done enough to get rid of it all and it could come back any time…

i guess its all about peace of mind in the end, for me

i hope this helps and good luck

do talk it through with someone outside the family though


Hi Everyone,
By all clear I expect you mean that you had no node involvement ? I dont mean to scare anyone but there are ladies on here who had no node involvement but have secondary cancer as cells can travel through the blood.

I had 1 node positive and was told that because of my age (38) I would be given everything. Lumpectomy, 6 Chemos , 15 Rads and 5 years on Tamoxifen. I personally just wanted to give myself the best chance for my Kids.

I was very worried about doing Chemo but to be honest It was not as bad as I thought. Sick for 24hrs, mild nausea for 7 days and then just a bit tired. I managed to still do everything ( I was determined to ).
I know that everyone is different and some people are not too well but it is completely do-able for most people.
Best wishes to you and its totally your decision.
Love Andrea x