chemo - how do you decide?

Hi, recently diagnosed breast cancer, 2 ops, grade 2, not in nodes but in blood and lymph vessels so invasive, oestrogen receptor positive but not HER2. saw oncologist yesterday, definitely advised radiotherapy and tamoxifen, suggested chemo to start in 2 weeks. If said def needed or would greatly reduce odds of recurrence then a no brainer, but no guarntees as there aren’t in life. How did some of you make that decision one way or the other? frightened of making wrong decision. frightened of losing hair, making self ill for long period time, side effects etc etc. Have two small grandchildren who I help a lot with and making self ill for 6-12 months when they are so young seems wrong - do I have good quality of life with them when young and not have treatment and hope, or similarly go thro treatment to have better quality of life later on? Trouble is no definite answer or outcome - just going round in circles and tears. one minute - go ahead, another dont have it. Will I regret not having it in future years who knows, if have it and cancer still returns put myself thro unnecessary illness. Help!!

Hi Alit, my diagnosis was similar to yours and for me it was a very simple decision, I didn’t want to have any regrets. Chemo certainly does not guarantee that cancer will not return and yes I could have put myself through it for nothing, but the alternative - not having it and it returning for me was unthinkable, I had to know that I had done everything in my power to stop it coming back, everything else is in the lap of the gods. In terms of chemo making you ill, the majority of people cope with chemo very well. I had 6 rounds of FEC over a 4 month period, I carried on working fulltime, looked after my then 4 year old daughter (including the normal days out to theme parks etc over the big summer holidays from school) and looked after the house (although I’m not sure it was up to Kim and Aggie’s standards!) I have no family locally and had hardly any help. I’m not saying I didn’t have rough days, because I did but for me it was all doable. Hope this helps, CC x

Hi alit and welcome to the BCC forums

I am sure many users here will be along with their thoughts and experiences to support you through this difficult time, please also feel free to all our helpliners to talk things through on 0808 800 6000 weekdays 9-5 and Saturdays 10-2

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Take care
Lucy BCC


My decision was different. I had WLE and SNB and then a re-excision to clear the margins. Up until I saw the Registrar after the second surgery chemo had not been mentioned. Indeed at the follow up to decide on the second surgery which involved another MRI scan the consultant said ‘No Chemotherapy’. When the registrar mentioned it I asked why and all she could do was to show me that the consultant had written on the papers ‘Chemotherapy - discuss’.


So I saw the oncologist who said that I was HER2 and with chemo they could giver herceptin. It’s difficult when the experts talk about % increased chances because its not about you as such but about the population of women in the same situation. Having chemo would increase the population of women by 3% and thus probably me.


I chose not to go ahead. I am 64. The prognosis was reasonable anyway and in my view the possible inconvenience for a year or so was not worth it. But everyone is different and if I had been younger my decision would have been different possibly.


I would think that where chemo is considered to make a real difference the oncologist will steer you towards that decision. But when I declined that was accepted.


I dont think any of us can help you make a decision but our experiences might be useful to hear.

hi, i too went through two weeks of shall i or shant i have chemo and really do feel the pain you are going through. my BC was grade 3 no lymph nodes involved ,clear margin and er+ high… but i finally came to the decision to have chemo as i know i am a born worrier and would always be wondering what if. i even had the oppurtunity to have the oncotype testing and still felt that if score came back as low recurrence i would still worry that i hadnt done enough so that was the turning point for me. i am due to start fec75 tomorrow for 6 cycles and am giving the cold cap a go too so will hopefully be able to reassure you how treatment goes. its a difficult decision and i honestly thought i would never agree to chemo having seen my mum struggle with lymphoma this last year but once you come to a decision you will find you feel more at peace with it all. good luck and i wish you well. Rachelx

I think you have to be guided by your oncologist and surgeon. I know I was not in a position to make a rational decision about my future and need them to tell me what was best for my diagnosis. Even discussed it today 8 weeks after op and one chemo torn, second tomorrow! They’ve seen it all before and can advise you the best outcome. Good luck x

Hi, I know exactly what you are going through as I was in a similar position a few months ago. I had a 9mm grade 3, hormone + her2- lump, no nodes involved. I was therefore borderline for chemo. Was petrified I have to say as I have an acute vomiting phobia and knew this was a side effect. After lots of discussion with my family, lots of crying etc I decided to go ahead with chemo as I am a born worrier and I know I would regret to doing everything in my power to stop this coming back.

I have now had my 4th fec and only have 2 more to go YAY!!! It’s not easy but completely doable. They have meds for every se you may get. They got my sickness meds just right after my first two treatments.

One thing I personally wouldn’t base my decision on is you saying about your grandchildren and you feeling it wrong to make yourself I’ll for 6 - 12 months. Firstly you won’t be I’ll for that long. Chemo generally is for for 18 weeks and you are not ill for all 18 of these weeks. Secondly, for me personally it’s been a small chunk out of my life for a hopefully huge gain.

Only you can make your decision but it must be one you are truly at ease with. Bigs hugs xxx

My bc is only grade one but 3cm with macrometastises in one lymph node and micro in another. I was told that chemo will improve my chances of still being around in 10 years time by 6%, which feels like quite a lot given that the chance of me getting it at all (especially only in my forties) was probably pretty small in the first place.
I look at it this way - if my chance of winning the lottery was 6% I would by buying plenty of tickets :slight_smile: This is a lottery I don’t want to win, so I will be having the chemo and am telling myself side effects will be minimal and worth it.

Hi Alit, discussed in depth with surgeon on Thursday who reassured me how important chemo is as part if my treatment. I think I was in denial from diagnosis until week of first chemo when I had a melt down. Reading this site made me realise how serious my diagnosis was - 8cm grade 3 IDC and s 2cm one plus 26/27 lymph nodes affected, seems pretty big compared to some, but size doesn’t always matter!

So now have just had second treatment on Friday and feeling more positive about it instead of thinking I’m pointlessly bombarding my body with toxins and feeling lousy for nothing !

Keep talking x