Chemo before surgery - anyone else?

To all the brave women on this thread-

Sarah, I am having chemo first; was dx with a 5 cm lump in March, have all the tests in creation, then got set up with AC chemo first. I’ve had 2 rounds of AC chemo, have 2 more to go. My onc tells me that it will soften first before shrinking. Once the first set of chemo is over; my onc surg wants to test, test, test. Then it is onward to another 4 sessions of Taxotere. Once chemo is over, it will be surgery. We are hoping for a lumpectomy; but to be honest, it isn’t as important to me as getting all the cancer out and AWAY. Once surgery is over, then it will be radiation. Whew! That’s enough to make anyone tired…

Chem affects everyone differently; so don’t feel like you have to be sicker than or better than someone else on it. I find that it takes about a week to feel somewhat normal again, with energy. I still need to nap or at least rest, but I am able to work from home on a reduced schedule. That alone is helping enormously. I am a technical writer. It’s interesting, and I love writing and editing,but I cannot even imagine working for 8 hours (well 10 was the norm before this…) or putting up with all the stress. I am seriously thinking about switching to something less stressful once this is all over. But, that is another thread!

I hope you are feeling better about your treatment and know we are all behind you.

Godspeed to all – Emily

Hi Sarah,

Just wanted to say that I’m also being treated by Frenchay Breast Care Unit and at the BRI (Dr Braybrook) for chemo.

You asked about local support groups. The breast care nurse I see at Frenchay has recommend a group called Young Women 4 Young Women (at age 44 I thought I might not qualify but she is certain that I do!) They meet at the Frenchay Breast Cancer Centre on the first Sunday of each month (3pm to 5pm). I haven’t been along myself but if you’re interested in a local group it could be a good place to start.

Good luck with everything.

Hi everyone,
I finally feel I have found the right thread, I too am having A.C. chemo I had my 1st of 4 on April 2nd my lump is 4 cm.
Then perhaps more chemo and then mastectomy and then more chemo… they told me it would take about a year.

I am trying too be patient and not expecting too much too soon but can`t help checking every morning!!

On a positive note I so far felt really well, have played golf, had the grandchildren today and went for a really long walk, but realise you have to take that one day at a time.

I feel so encouraged by your previous posts.

Many thanks,Janx

hi emilyjane
good luck with your treatment plan.hope u keep well.
take care

Hi I was diagnosed last Oct, a week before my wedding - its all in the timing- and mine was 6cms and had chemo first.Had 4x ac which did soften and shrink it to less than 2cms,also had coil fitted around it.Was due to have 4xtax but after 3 it had hardened and on having an ultrasound it had grown and is quite painful.Saw surgeon last week and he is disappointed that it had not shrunk to what he expected.Started on Herceptin yesterday and every 3 weeks for the next year and going for lumpectomy next Tues followed by radiotherapy in a few weeks.Suffered more on tax, but on the whole not too bad, Finding it harder now ,very low and insecure.

Hi ladies,
I was diagnosed 2nd Jan and have lump in breast,lymph glands under arm,neck and possibly liver so Onc has started me on 6 Tax and Herceptin together.I am now up to my 4th.The question I wanted to ask is, how come everyone seems to know the size of their lumps,staging,grading etc and I don’t? Don’t they tell you this information automatically or should I be asking for it?
I’m booked in for another MRI scan at Clatterbridge on Monday to check on my liver.Nobody seems to be telling me anything about what is going to happen after chemo!

Hi Alli, I only size of mine as they told me, never asked about grading etc, only since been on here that is crossed my mind to ask, and still haven’t. Can I ask as you are going to Clatterbridge where you are.I live in Huyton and go to Whiston for treatment, but officially treated from Clatterbridge, my onc is Dr Innes.

Hi Maryfrod,
I live and get my treatment in Liverpool but have to go to Clatterbridge for scan which is very inconvenient as I don’t drive so have to get someone to take me.

Hi Alli
I too had my first chemo at Clatterbridge but am able to have the rest of my treatment in Southport which is where I live.

My onc is Dr Ali

I was also really worried that I knew and still dont know anything about staging or grading just that its 4 cm.

One of the ladies on this site told me you only find out after surgery. Is it worth asking your breast nurse what happens after chemo.? They seem really supportive.

Good luck with the MRI scan on Monday, I had my bone scan there last week and still waiting the results…just hate the waiting!

Take care,

Hi all

I was only diagnosed last Friday and am seeing oncologist for first time tomorrow but so far they seem to be suggesting chemo first. I’m quite anxious as all I know about it is what I’ve read in the information booklets we were given to read on Friday. I’m only 32 and we were hoping to start a family soon and now I’ve read all about chemo and I don’t know what to think. Having read this thread though it does seem like a sensible way forward - I don’t know grade, type or size other than “quite large” and they want to reduce the size first. I suppose the only way forward is to see the oncologist tomorrow and see what she says and suggests. Bit scared but trying to be positive having thought my world had ended on Friday!

I thought I’d be a lurker here on this site but have now made a couple of posts and finding it encouraging to read about others experiences/worries etc etc.


hi neleh
i have just sent u a message on other thread. as i said i got chemo first too. my tumour was 10.5cm and after chemo it was about 4cm. once i had my op it turned out that i had 3 tumours in breast, each behind the other and one in nodes under arm. so thank god i got the chemo first as it did wonders to shrink the wee bssssss to a size that they could successfully be removed. once again good luck and dont worry about the chemo first, it really is doable and u will find an inner strength that u never would have imagined you had. again stick with us and u will get all the support in the world from all the lovely ladies and guys who use this site.

ps,i was told the size of original tumour on day of ultrasound,fna and mammo


I know when I was first diagnosed they talked me through have chemo first then surgery and then radiotherapy. They mentioned my age several times I’m 41. Somehow its seen as a better thing to do if you have younger but I think all sorts of other factors are considered as well.

take care


Hi all
I’ve been reading this thread as the treatment is relevant to me and it is reassuring to know others have had similar treatment.

8 sessions of chemo seems such a long time, and my hope is that after maybe 6 the mass will have shrunk enough for them to do a mastectomy then. I’ve already decided this is the way forward, get rid of the b…

How are all you lasses now after a few weeks further on?

Hiya, speaking from experience of surgery first (mastectomy & immediate LD recon, grade 3 IDC, multifocal totalling 4-5cms) and then chemotherapy, in retrospect, I wish I had pursued the prospect of neo-adjuvant chemo more strongly beforehand in the hope that they could then have carried out breast conserving surgery instead rather than remove my breast altogether. I did question the possibility of chemo first - but cannot for the life of me remember why the surgeon ‘advised’ against it - but while I do not object to the reconstruction at all I would have preferred to have retained my
breast if at all possible. Of course, there is always the knee-jerk reaction for the tumours to be removed immediately but as you say at least with the chemo the professionals can actually witness the medication working.

Good luck to all of you awaiting surgery and/or undergoing chemo.

All the best


Hi Peacock,
I posted early on in this thread and have completed my chemo for now - I had 6 AC. Notice that most others are having 4 and 4 - my onc did say that may have been my treatment plan if AC didn’t work, but after 3 it had reduced the lump by almost 60% so we just did the 6 AC - I must say I was glad! Chemo wasn’t as bad as I thought, but its certainly not something I’d wish on anyone - by the end I was so glad it was over! But it did work - my lump shrank from almost 5cm to about 1.5cm (scanned just before my final one). I’m now waiting for my appt with surgeon next week to find out what surgery etc they recommend - so I guess I’m entering phase 2 of my journey. Good luck to you with your chemo - you’re right, just remember that it’s blasting the little blighters and it makes it bearable.
Good luck to everyone else too - how is everyone getting on?

Hi evryone, I was diagnosed on the 19th MAy , just had MRI scan and see consultant on Tuesday. He originally stated that lump was about 4-5 cm and best thing would be chemo and then breast reduction followed by hormone and poss rads but I will have to wait and see on Tuesday, I just want to start treatment whatever it is as it is now a month on Tuesday - TOO LONG if you ask me!!
Take care evryone Sharon xxx

Hi ,

I was diagnosed in December 2004 and had to have immediate chemo therapy, followed by mastectomy then radiotheraapy. Have since had reconstruction and am deligheted with it. But to everyone here asking if chemo first is the right thing my oncologist told me when I queried ‘remember that you were treated immediately. Chemo is the treatment mastectomy is just removing the cancer not stoping the spread!!’ Also I kept remebering days of old when I heard of people having cancer they said once they operated it was worse so i have to say I think chemo first is the best way forward.
Good luck to you all it is a long journey but hey there is life at the end of it !!!

Hi Sarah
I was diagnosed in october and had chemo first. For me the respose was so good that the op was cancelled as there was no sign of the tumour - this all happened 1 hour before surgery due! Went on then to have 5 weeks of rads. In a way I felt it was good to get the chemo out of the way!! I’m now on tamoxifen and because of my age (37) and the fact I had no op, they are writing the rule book as they go along…
I couldn’t recommend it more highly!!
Good luck

A bit of a worry that niggles me is that I was operated on before they discovered the cancer. It was only meant to be a minor operation to remove blocked ducts as cancer wasn’t suspected beforehand.
Still the wound is healing well since the op so fingers crossed they will zap it all.
My other worry is the persistent aching and painful shoulder and arm, which I have had for about 7 months now. Since my first chemo on Friday it has been aching even more. Roll on the bone scan in a couple of weeks.
I think I am lucky, since diagnosis on 4 June I have had one chemo treatment and everything else has happened pretty quickly.
Chin up everyone|!