how long can i delay chemo

i was wondering how long i could put off having chemo. what is longest gap people have had since op and starting chemo.
i am such a state re deciding whether to have it or not. i know no one can help but if i could put it off till July i would have it.
story so far. mamo clear but had a lump. scan found it i had lumpectomy Oct 07 and sentinel nodes biopsy. that was clear but found more cancer in margins so a mastectomy and imm reconstruction on 6th DEC. i have problems with healing and expect another 8 weeks to heal or a skin graft would hurry it up.
i have very good odds supposedly as it stands now no treatment at all gives 73 percent chance of not recurring in 10 yrs. tam hormone tablets increase by 9 percent. then chemo 11 but you cant add 9 and 11 together so don’t know what figs would be.
i would like it in July as would have had our big family holiday that been planning for a while that’s my son and girlfriend with us. i have my 50th in may and want some weekend breaks with other family members. my mother is 80 and in Scotland so she having celebrations. my daughter is pregnant having a bad 2nd pregnancy and with a toddler needs help. i child mind and July school hols will give me a good 6 week break two treatments out of way. i like to be prepared and get in right frame of mind. the house hasn’t had a gt clean since 6th DEC just usual i like to be organised. i feel lethargic after two ops and shock by July i hope to be fit healthy losse some weight etc. i wouldn’t change my mind as i would be prepared mentally physically etc any views sorry to go on.
xxx juliexx

Hi Julie

Sorry to hear about your dilemma. It’s very hard to make a decision when you’re not feeling anywhere close to 100% and it sounds like your operations have really knocked you and that your body needs to recover for a while.

I think if I were in your shoes (and a lot of ladies would say this) I would definitely have chemo and I wouldn’t want to delay it as I would want to throw everything at this to get rid of it. You only have one chance at life and for a few months of feeling rough it’s worth knowing that you’ve done everything you can to help yourself. I wouldn’t want to worry that the b*****d has gone walkies inside me and this is something some of us won’t know as microcells can escape and nobody (not even the doctors) can see initially.

Depending on what chemo you have, you may still be able to enjoy some of the things you want to do for example I had 3 lots of FEC which I wouldn’t exactly say were awful but I did suffer terrible indigestion which medication helped to sort. I did have some fatigue but not horrendous and I didn’t feel amazing but after 3 or 4 days I’d start feeling better. I did have a problem with my white blood cells which meant after ending up in hospital they gave me an injection to boost my white blood cells and then everything was fine. Basically whatever side effects you suffer, there are medications and ways and means of making you feel better so that you suffer as little as possible. The Taxotere was a different story and did completely floor me for 3-4 days but like I said everybody is different.

I hope this has helped just a little. I know it’s a hard decision to make but I personally wouldn’t have wanted to put off having chemo for anything especially as you are being offered it - not everybody has it and the doctors would only offer it to you if they felt you’d benefit from it.

Ruby xxxx

Hi, I’d 4xFEC,4xTaxol and still managed to carry on as normal.I didn’t feel too good after my first FEC but was much better next day and after that it was plain sailing.Even my next door neighbour didn’t know I had BC.When my hair fell out half way through I plonked a wig on my head and told her I’d had it cut Losing my waist length hair was definately the worst part of it all! Hopefully you will sail through it like me but either way I’d go for it…and then get on with the rest of your life.

Love Joyce xx

hi both of you thanks for replying. i want to go for it but want to hold off till july. is this possible… should i have 4 or 6 again its up to me. to much up to me. Ruby how did you only have 3 lots. i was told 4 or 6. Apparently my wound wont heal for about 8 weeks so that takes us till april anyway. if i hadnt had this problem i would havestarted it by now and got it over b4 big events…
xxx juliexxx

Hi Julie

Quite frankly I wouldnt hold off, there is never going to be a good time to do this, there will always be something that wil come in when you have a busy life and lots of things going on. I notice alot of what you have written is about helping other people and making things right for them, you need to think about YOU and your health and your life which will ultimately give you the best chance to be around for THEM for longer.

I too had a good prognosis but now I have secondaries and it is one source of comfort to me that once i got to doctors I threw the book at it, I was advised to have chemo as soon as I could tolerate it after surgery and thats what I did. I can only reccomend that from personal experience.

best wishes

Hi Cathy.
the thing is holding off to July seems ages away but i will be prepared physically and mentally. my consultant thinks its over treatment anyway as good prognosis. but like you say it means nothing. i am not ready to have it for about 8 weeks until wound healed properly so that takes us to April anyway. the statistics mean what…i would like to know out of how many people with a good prognosis who have had secondaries had chemo and how many didn’t i think it would be interesting. still whatever i am going to have it at moment if i can in July…
xxx juliexx

Hi Julie

I know how you feel, I too am currently undergoing a similar decision, whether to have chemo or not, and I have got to decide by next Tues, I know it is not an easy decision and I cried for almost 24 hours after being told last Tues, I did think I might have the radio therapy first and then have the Chemo but I think I would “chicken” out if I did that. I understand what you mean about putting your life on hold, I too am just turned 50 and did not envisage spending my year like this, I have been quite comforted by Ruby’s, Cathy’s and Joyce’s comments above, I think I have almost made my decision.

As for your dilemma I agree with others on here, if you decide to go for it I would have it earlier and get it over with, could you not delay your holiday? You might find that you heal quicker and could start treatment before April?

I love my holidays too, but If I have it I have come to the conclusion that I will just have to put my life on hold for 6 months, I agree with Ruby won’t you be wondering where they are and what they are up to?

From the moment I was dx in Dec,(no lump routine mammogram re called) I just wanted “it” out.

The other thing you might want to consider is have you thought about holiday insurance? you don’t say if this holiday is abroad, but when I was DX I had a holiday booked at Christmas, which I went on really surreal, could not think of anything but BC, but when I rang my holiday insurance company to tell them I had just been DX, they said they would cover me for the holiday as I had booked it before my DX, but would not cover me for future hols related to this for 6 months ( i know some insurance companies specialise in this), but its just another thing to consider.
I know what an emotional time this is and I do know how you feel.
Hope some of my points help you decide, and thanks Joyce, Ruby and Cathy for your comments I think they have helped me.
Take Care

Sarah x

Hi Sarah
thanks for your comments and i agree holiday insurance will be a nightmare another reason to have holiday before. i do want to have chemo i think i have to really. i am going to see another oncologist at another hospital Thursday and i Will get there opinion as well. i do feel a holiday before will do me world of good after what i been through so far. holiday after not so appealing wigs etc. i am just not sure if i can delay it with oncologist… that’s y i wondered how long its been for others. if all had gone right in first place no wound problems i would be having it now… the next q is a 4 or 6 sessions. again she sad it was up to me and how much i put my body through. have a good weekend if you can
take care

Hi Julie and Sarah

Julie can you decide whilst going through chemo how many you want to have? For instance if you get through the chemo relatively unscathed you might find that you can cope with 6 but if you find it a real struggle you can decide to stop and only have 4. I wasn’t given any choices about my treatment and the doctors wanted me to start chemo asap due to the aggressiveness (grade 3) and fact it was in my lymph nodes too. I think it’s good you are going for a second opinion that may help you decide what to do. Although you really need a holiday, a holiday can wait until after treatment but you won’t know what the cancer is doing during that time and could you really enjoy a holiday knowing that you are delaying treatment that could save your life?

None of us are ready for this to happen to us or to have the treatment we’ve been having - there is never a good/right time to start treatment and like Cathy said above there’s always going to be a reason to put it off.

I did have 6 lots of chemo by the way (3 FEC and 3 Taxotere) and now I’m on herceptin for a year too. I personally couldn’t wait to start chemo. I was diagnosed middle June and started chemo middle of July and even that wait was too long and the delay was due to all the other scans and tests I was having.

Sarah I’m pleased we’ve been able to help you too.

Lots of love
Ruby xxxx

I went to my GP 16th Nov,dx at BC center 16th Dec,had my op 12th Jan and started chemo on 14th Feb.Which was far too long to wait!!! On looking at my notes before my radiotherapy started the consultant told me that I was an extremely lucky woman because it hadnt spread further!!

what op did you have joseymarie. i just don’t know what to do if it wasn’t for all things going on in next few months i would have it. but so much planning etc gone on too much too cancel and if my family didn’t go it wouldn’t seem right. i am glad i am being offered it don’t get me wrong but if i had seen original person i wouldn’t have been offered it. we cant tell who is right. these plans were made after discussions with original consultant who said i wouldn’t need chemo sp go ahead. he was away and the ( over cautious known for it) other one was there. i know you cant be over cautious really. its just such a hard situation i am in. should i go to the other hospital and see there opinion. what problems are there in delaying it. as said before i cant have it for another 8 weeks at least till wound healed so there’s a delay amway. oh god why did it happen to me… how many have said that… if i was a def case would not be a problem for discussion. even this consultant says its a hard case i am one of hardest shes had for a long time. most people need it straightforwardly. i don’t. that didn’t help. also said if i was 50 percentages which are small drop again well i am 50 in a few months… who has a crystal Ball. sorry to go on.
happy Sunday.

Dear Julie,

There are no guarantees for anyone with chemotherapy. Statistics tell you about groups of people, not individuals. Waiting till July is quite a long time, but then could make no difference at all. You might get cancer back anyway…or you won’t…whatever you decide. The thing is no one knows. Lets say you go for chemo in July and you get a rceurrence next year? Can you live with that or would you wish you’d gone for it earlier? (as I say you might get the recurrence any way),. Its all about your personal attitude to risk I think…talk it through with your onc. Does she know you are thinking of delaying till July? Get some advice from one of the cancer helplines.

Check with insurance anyway. You should notify your incusrance company that you have breast cancer, but it shouldn’t affect your cover if you took it out before diagnosis.

And yes I know peope who initially had a good prognosis and got secondaries.

Best wishes whatever you decide.


I had a lumpectomy and auxilary clearence of lymph nodes.You will have to wait until your wound heals anyway Julie before contemplating anything! Some people manage a holiday while on chemo - I used to shoot off to West Cork to stay with my son in between most hospital visits.and I thoroughly enjoyed myself - just tried to stay away from any bugs that were going around and when I did catch a cold I kept an eye .on my temperature.Must admit I never had to take out holiday insurance though…and thats a different ball game! I don’t think anyone really knows how long you can delay chemo for, chemo itself is still a hit and miss thing. It’s all a matter of statistics,If your prognosis is good even without the chemo(lucky old you) you’ve got the luxury of actually making that choice. Good luck …If it were me I’d still go on holiday and fit the chemo around it!

Hi Julie

Yes we all go through “Why did it happen to Me” I’m having one of those at the moment, haven’t until now, but then I try and think of someone who is worse of than me, and there are aren’t there?, it doesn’t always help, but sometimes it does. I think well I’ve been lucky to get to 50 without anything wrong, as I have always enjoyed good health.

Your holiday is a real dilemma, and only you can make that choice, I think if it was me after my experience at Christmas (this was after my DX but before my op) I would delay the holiday and go later in the year, get the chemo started as soon as posiible. You can have lots of second opinions but only you can decide. Have you discussed it with the rest of the family to see what they think?
I sometimes also think being given a choice is harder too, I have a choice, if they just said you need this or are having it, then they take that decision away from you. I also don’t have to have it, but I think Jane’s comments are right. I also heard a saying at the weekend “your life can change with a heart beat”, how right we know that to be.

I also think Joyce’s comments about being able to go away in between hospital treatments are comforting, and that sounds great if you can be that well, so you might be able to do your weekends away. I have a caravan, so that sounds good to me too, although I am not sure if it will really be that easy.

Have a good Monday at least you don’t have that Sunday night feeling any more prior to Monday!

Take Care
Sarah x

Hi Julie
just to throw in my pennies worth ! I had my lumpectomy sept 4th , second op sep 21 and 1st chemo oct 31. So thats around a 7 week gap. My oncologist was waiting on my decision but he wanted me to hurry and make one so he could start rads or chemo. He was quite anxious to get started on something at least and obviously if you go for chemo that has to come first.

He told me not to cancel my pre planned holiday (which I havent ) just as long as any trips abroad are made at least 14 days after the previous chemo. His advice to me was we can work around this with you. I have delayed my 6th chemo an extra week so I can go away and they are fine with that. I think you will be able to manage it if you plan well enough.
I for one would not delay the chemo but plan your trips and things just before you are due a chemo so you are in tip top condition.

All I can say is , once I had made the decision to have chemo the start of it was taken out of my hands . My oncologist was very keen to move things along fast.
hope all these comments are helping you.

love Cally x

Hi Cally and everyone else that’s replied thank you its been a gt help. i have decided to go for it. i want it over asap so can get on. the oncologist said i wouldn’t be able to go away and wouldn’t get insurance whilst doing chemo. so until i know when i can start i cant plan anything. i cant start till my wound has healed although on mend no one can tell me when so i am in a dilemma. my op was 6th DEC and i am feeling better about myself each day. now i have decided to go ahead i feel better and just want it over. a specialist nurse visited me yesterday and agreed prob another 8 weeks for it to heal although it has improved over last week. i said consultant wants a skin graft to hurry it up. she said would only make a couple of weeks difference i would have two wounds and also not a guarantee it will take and also how long to wait for op. so still no further on…
x julie x

Hi Cally and everyone else that’s replied thank you its been a gt help. i have decided to go for it. i want it over asap so can get on. the oncologist said i wouldn’t be able to go away and wouldn’t get insurance whilst doing chemo. so until i know when i can start i cant plan anything. i cant start till my wound has healed although on mend no one can tell me when so i am in a dilemma. my op was 6th DEC and i am feeling better about myself each day. now i have decided to go ahead i feel better and just want it over. a specialist nurse visited me yesterday and agreed prob another 8 weeks for it to heal although it has improved over last week. i said consultant wants a skin graft to hurry it up. she said would only make a couple of weeks difference i would have two wounds and also not a guarantee it will take and also how long to wait for op. so still no further on…
x julie x

Hi Julie

Only just seen your thread - and it would appear you have made a decision now.

Just wanted to say, I was diagnosed 1st Nov 07, had ct scans/liver & lung scans on 8th, mastectomy and full node clearance on 13th (no reconstruction) and started my chemo on 28th Nov - only 4 wks after initial diagnosis and 15 days after surgery!! At the time I was gutted - I had assumed they would give me a nice long recovery time after op and that chemo wouldn’t start till after xmas - how wrong can you be?!?!

However - since starting my chemo ( 4 x Fec, followed by rads, followed by 4 x taxotere, followed by 1 year of herceptin) I have still had holidays - albeit just short breaks inbetween sessions - I had the party of all party’s at new year and got extremely drunk! and, apart from work (I am signed off sick for 6 months) - the rest of my life has carried on as normal (whatever normal is lol). I am having the last of my 4 Fecs tomorrow - and just cannot believe how quickly the time has gone.

With hindsight I am glad that they started so quickly - I know that they, and I, are doing all that can be done to attempt to eradicate any remaining cancer. I equally know that there are no guarantees, but at least it won’t be for want of trying !

Good luck with everything
Margaret x

hi Margaret. how i wish i could start it now. funny now i decided i am up for it but because of this wound its out of my hands. i go to hospital nurse Fri and back t oncologist Fri 8th when she wants my decision so perhaps then might have a clearer idea.
take care
julie xxxxx

Hi Julie

Glad you made your decision, I made mine too today and I think once you have you do feel better. I read elsewhere that the holiday you were planning was a safari? Presumably Africa? I went to Africa and it is a fab place I’m sure you will enjoy it , and even more so when you are better.

Hi Magaret,

Glad you are able to lead a normal life that has reassured me, I had the party of all parties too on New Year’s Eve it was the night of my op!!!

Take Care

Sarah x