Don't know if I should decline chemo?...

Just read through Cally’s thread as I have just returned from my first visit with the oncologist and feel very confused. Again this is a belt and braces situation in a way. Cancer 2cm, taken out, second op. to take wider margin, started to feel great, getting back into work and now been given the option of Chemo/No chemo. This is harder than I thought it would be and am sorely tempted to say no and just go for the radio and tamoxifen (bloods indicated high hormonal whatever…cause?). Anyhow, the onc. came up with figures that if I had no treatment at all, 8% of cancer returning (or was it me dying…god I can’t remember!), If I had tamoxifen then that is reduced by 2-3%, then if I had chemo, a reduction of 2-ish%. Hmmm. I’m 40 years old / young.
Or am I just trying hard to talk myself out of it because I am very scared and having a big wobble?? Anyone else been in the same boat and are there any other factors I should consider?


I was diagnosed on 4th April (age 41) with a large tumour in my left breast. Due to the size my Oncologist & Consultant advised 8 sessions of chemo, followed by mastectomy and node clearance, then radiotherapy, then herceptin for a year (!), as well as a reconstruction next year sometime.

I must admit, I never asked for statistics (did’nt want to scare myself!), and as much as I was frightened, I wanted everything they could throw at it. The chemo was hard - but doable - and shrunk the tumour down to nothing. I had my mastectomy nearly two weeks ago, and am now awaiting my radiotherapy appointment.

As much as I hated it, the chemo worked brilliantly for me, and I never thought I’d say this but I’d do it all again if I had to.

Whatever you decide, its your decision at the end of the day - and good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Please keep posting, so we know how you’re getting on, and if you need any more advice, just shout !

much love

Julie xxx

Hi Ninanoo,

I think that you are maybe looking for an excuse to avoid chemo? Whatever the %s you were given were, they included further benefit by having chemo. I didn’t want chemo but the overrriding factor was the added benefit of improving the chances of not getting a recurrence. If I had to have it again, I would. Maybe it would help to talk to someone? Or post on here with more info about what really scares you? You’ve done well so far and it’s not surprising you have a wobble. Please share your real fears.

Margaret x

That is true Margaret, I am looking for an excuse not to have it but isn’t that just what we do when we weigh up options and make choice? I am also seeking reasons to have it also…The stats were presented to me as the Onc. loved the piece of hardware he was using which once he entered my details, came up with those figures.
I know they are only guestimates, but relevant in some context surely?
I’m not sure I understand what you mean by sharing my real fears. The time it takes, my other responsibilities, the inconvenience of illness, my financial commitments (I’m responsible for half of all home expenditure), my quality of life for the next few months. the “low” percentage possibility of recurrence. I’m already a non smoking, organic eating, low drinking healthy woman. I just wonder,if it is worth it…:slight_smile:
Thankyou for your concern Margaret, I do appreciate it xx

Yes, of course we look for excuses. But, for me, there was only one factor to consider - the added benefit. Once I heard about that, whether it was factually sound or a guestimate, I was not interested in knowing any more. Re your real fears, I just felt that maybe there was something about chemo that particularly turned you off. Me trying to guess with the best of intentions! Yes, it takes time, yes we all have other things to do - in my case having to work because I was in publishing with a monthly deadline and my so-called business partner wouldn’t help (and now I’m locked in a legal battle with him but that’s another story!), it’s inconvenient, everything you say. But that added benefit seemed to me more important than anything else. The reality was that I did chemo and everything else because that was the way my life was at the time. I hope others will post their thoughts. I know it’s difficult.

Margaret x

Hi there Ninanoo,
Always hard to make such decisions, intellectually you go one way but your heart pulls you the other way, it is finding where you can sit happiest.
If it helps my tumour is 1.8cm, no apparent nodes involved, but it’s grade 2/3 so we are hitting this BC with everything we can. chemo first, then mastectomy, then rads - and anything else that will kick it where it belongs! The idea being to reduce any possibility of it ever even considering a comeback.
Hope that you soon work out what is best for you as a person.

Hi Ninanoo,

I had a WLE, SNB, then wider margin taken and had just rads and tamoxifen (Jan 07 age 44).
I wasn’t even offered chemo (and went private through BUPA). It was felt by consultant and oncologist to be of no great benefit as the lump was small 14mm (think it has to be under 2cm) and no nodes involved. I’m lobular bc and I don’t think chemo benefits this type as much as ductal. Of course I was pleased at not having to go through chemo, although I sometimes think perhaps everything should have been thrown at it, But I go by what the professionals think. I know a lady who had same treatment as me 8 years ago and is doing very well. Why don’t you ring somebody up here from the breast cancer team or have a chat with your breast cancer nurse. It’s your decision but I’m sure you’ll make the right one for you.
Take care and good luck
Shorty xx


Obviously I can only speak for myself here, but personally I want everything that they can give me!!! I was never given the option to have chemo or decline it as I had extensive lymph node involvement, however if I had been given the choice I defo would of said yes! Even if it only made the tiniest difference to my prognosis. Having just finished chemo, I found it to be tough but very very doable. Next for me is rads, Tamoxifen and Herceptin! They’re throwing everything at this little bu**er and I’m certainly not complaining!

I wish you well as you try to make this decision. I have no doubt you will soon come to whatever decision is right for you,

Take care,


Hi Ninanoo
I can totally understand where you are coming from and have deliberated myself a lot and made myself very very stressed reading reports about adjuvant chemo from all over the place (I dont do that anymore since I got a ticking off by my onc) but have come full circle and am going for it. My onc told me I would get 5 % benefit (combined with radi & tamoxifen it would be a combined 10%) I wanted to get my odds over 90 % would take me to 92 percent just about . Although he says its up to me he has also said anyone with 3% benefit would be recommended to have it. In your case if I am right you would get a 2% benefit ?
My oncologist would probably have said again its up to you but would probably be a bit more relaxed about it). I had one node involved minimally but as its grade 2 and I am young (41) he said it was in my long term interest. The node involvement tipped me over into the chemo route.
I am also fit and healthy , eat well , ran 5k this year, take active holidays etc . I am very worried about being ill with the chemo , lack of help , 2 children one being a lively 2 year old at home with me . The thing is I felt great not knowing I had a tumour , so its a scary thing that these things can creep up on you and you havent a clue so I have to be sure there is absolutely nothing left. I feel that I havent but how do i know for sure ?
I also take some comfort that I will be in safe hands , he has assured me they will watch me closely to adjust dosage if I get really sick plus if I really have a severe reaction it he will stop it. (I sort of feel though once you have lost your hair you may as well follow the course !) Its a tough one for you as your benefits are marginal. My breast care nurse was a good person to talk to just to get a different perspective. At the end of the day its all statistics and you probably shouldnt get bogged down by it . If I do the chemo then I know I have done all I can and will have no regrets later on down the line . I think thats whats making me stick to my decision. Its a few months out of my life for the long term benefit.

Cally x

Hello Ninanoo

Of course you’re frightened. No-one wants to have chemo. I was terrified of it. In my case I was told that it would improve my chances by only 3% or 4%. I thought about it and decided to have the chemo. I thought that if the cancer comes back then at least I shall have tried everything possible to get rid of it.
chemo is not nice but we all get through it.
Good luck with your decision
Love Anthi

Just a thought wouldnt you rather an extra 2% in your favour so that you know you have thrown everything at it?