Breast Cancer Recurrence - stopping treatment

I was diagnosed with Grade 1 breast cancer in left breast in 2017 age 42 (hormone receptive). I had lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy and then endocrine treatment (tamoxifen). I took 2 DVTs in right calf so was taken off tamoxifen at 2.5 years. I was diagnosed with a breast cancer grade 2 local recurrence in March of this year. I had another lumpectomy followed by a second surgery a month later to get clear margins. They couldn’t repeat radiotherapy as it was in same place. I started endocrine treatment start of July which consists of zoladex and anastrazole. Unfortunately at end of July I started getting a lot of side affects such as severe headaches, imbalance without dizziness, insomnia, nausea and loads of other menopausal symptoms. I was told to stop anastrazole 3 weeks ago but symptoms haven’t eased. I went off work as I was making lots of mistakes and went to see my GP. I’ve had my eyes tested for field vision etc which were all normal and I’m being sent for a head scan. I had my fourth zoladex injection 2 days ago. Saw my oncologist yesterday who said that I have to miss next zoladex injection and he will see me at his next clinic a couple of weeks after the missed injection. Hopefully the head scan will be done before next clinic. He said that if symptoms are still same then it may be the zoladex in which case, they may have to stop treatment as I’m still pre-menopause at 49 yrs of age. He said it was 13mm grade two tumour with low risk of recurrence and it may be a chance I have to take. My mum was diagnosed with her first breast cancer late 80s/mid 90s at the age of 42 and went on to have a further 3 diagnoses before having it in her womb and finally in her liver. She died just shy of her 54th birthday. This is the experience I have to go on. I know that treatment has greatly improved but I am really anxious that if I stop treatment, that it will come back again and again until it can’t be treated anymore. I worry about my son going through what I went through watching my mum’s health deteriorate. I feel stupid for asking these questions because I completely trust that the doctors know what’s best for me. I hope I have included enough information in this essay ;-). Thanks in advance. Liz

Hi there. I don’t have any advice but sending you luck and love whatever decision you make. I am 43 and just diagnosed with same cancer as you (1st diagnosis). My biggest fear is it keeping on coming back down the track and seeing your Mum go through that must have been incredibly traumatic. You are right though in that treatment has moved on and you are in good hands. My Grandma died of breast cancer at 53 in 1983 - I live in hope that I will buck the trend in our family with better knowledge, treatments and care xxx

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Thank you so much. Sending you love and best wishes for your treatment. I can’t fault any contact and treatment I’ve had. I’ve been very well looked after but it doesn’t take the fear away - you’re so right. Thanks for your reply :heart:

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Hello Liz

Thanks for your post. It’s fully understandable that you’re worried about stopping the treatment for your recurrence of breast cancer, given the experience you had with your mum’s deteriorating health and subsequent death.

You should also never feel stupid asking questions such as these, as you’re going through this difficult time with your own treatment side effects.

As @blue80 says, treatments have improved greatly over the years and, while it’s not possible to say if the cancer will return if you stop a certain treatment, it’s important that you discuss your concerns with your breast care nurse or GP. They may be able to refer you for some talking therapies to help you through this difficult period. They may also be able to refer to a menopause specialist for support with the symptoms you have.

Macmillan Cancer Support offer a free counselling service also.

Here at Breast Cancer Now, we offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in. They include face to face and online courses and events.

Talking to someone who has had a similar experience can often be helpful. Our Someone Like Me service can match you with a trained volunteer who’s had a similar experience to you, such as finishing certain treatments. You can be in touch with your volunteer by phone or email for them to answer your questions, offer support or simply listen.

You can ring the Someone Like Me team on 0114 263 6490 or email them at someone.likeme@breastcancernow.org, so they can then match you to your volunteer.

For more details about all of these services, please see the information on the link.

You’re also welcome to call our helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. The helpline team have time to listen to your concerns, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

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Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.

Best wishes

Addie

Breast Care Nurse

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