Long Term Side Effects of Chemo

I had chemo for Breast Cancer three years ago. I have now been diagnosed with Heart Failure. I have been told this is as a result of the chemo. I am devastated. I am only 54. Has anyone else had this happen.


Hi Bettie

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Sorry I haven’t replied earlier but I don’t usually check this part of the Forum, being unfortunately a secondary BC lady ? and also not having internet for ages since moving house. However I answered a similar post in this section today regarding cardiomyopathy which is probably what you have been diagnosed with. Basically I had heart failure after finishing FEC chemo 8 years ago but it didn’t affect me too much until a couple of years ago when my heart function had dropped too low for Herceptin treatment. Being a ‘mets’ lady means I need ongoing treatment so this was an awful blow. I eventually was referred to The Brompton hospital in London where they have a specialist cardio-oncology unit and the Drs there completely understand and treat these conditions. I am sure you can get a referral there or alternatively your GP surgery may have a nurse who specialises in heart care, in my other post I mention another lady, with mets, who has has successful treatment this way. Medications are available to help but as my case was so extreme I did also go on to have a couple of procedures done which have reversed the damage. At the time this all happened, ie referral, I was. 51. Please feel free to get in touch on here or via PM and I am happy to help.

Nicky x

Yes I have cardiomyopathy and i have posted elsewhere about this just yesterday.  I had FEC and Tax and then Mx 2 years ago almost to the date I had my cardio dx.  My symptoms aren’t too strong- I get breathless walking up hills, or doing heavy housework or gardening.  Unfortunately I live in the country and to go anywhere I have to climb hills!  I am now on 5 tablets plus my anastrazole.  I am 67 and still working and this has forced my to give up one of my (3) part-time jobs and cut down on my hours in another.  I do get ridiculously tired but I have taught myself how to nap and I can nap for England now.  But I am looking for a regime where I know I am keeping fit and yet giving my heart a chance.  In fact I am much better than I was after a chest infection at Christmas when I had chest pain after walking only about 50 yards! 


One thing I’ve noticed is how chaotic the treatment is compared to BC treatment in my area and I really wish I had a cardiac nurse to help me out with that blend of counselling skill and practicality I experienced with my BC nurse when I was having cancer treatment.  In her absence I have to see the GP and I really feel sorry for them at the surgery…they didn’t really like the idea of my having chemo in the first place and they felt a bit squeezed out of my cancer treatment and now they have to help me pick up the mess I am left with.  It’s a hard row to hoe but I am feeling my way through it.  Any tips will be gratefully received!



Hi Bettie - sorry to read your post and I really feel for you - its so tough.  I have just posted on another thread about this - please read it because like you, I was utterly devastated when I was diagnosed with HF but have come through it. Please get back to me if I can be of any help. 

Hi where did you post your comment please?

Thank you for the kind replies ladies, I’ve found it’s isolating having these problems but not ticking the expected boxes of us. There does seem to be a growing number of us. And I think there is now the beginnings of more joined up thinking between oncology and cardiology, thanks greatly to Nicky’s team at the Brompton. Still a long way to go though. X

Hi,I just need to vent. I am really struggling at the moment. Alongside endless trips to hospital for my Heart Condition I am in a lot of pain with my ongoing trouble with my inoperable perennial hernia. I am on so much medication and feel like I am sinking. I’m normally a strong person but am feeling desperately weighed down. I cant talk to my husband or family as they already are dealing with my shock diagnosis of heart failure.



I’m sorry to read through the issues you’ve all been having since chemo for bc - I’m hoping somebody can help with my problem?


I am interested to know if anyone has had any skin problems similar to my own. I was dx Oct 2010 tnbc - had double mx, FEC-T & 15 or 20 rads (can’t quite remember without looking through old hospital letters - which have been long stored away - out of sight-out of mind!) and finished all treatment in May 2011.


I have been incredibly fortunate to have had 5 (relatively) healthy years but am now wondering if some symptoms I’ve had this year could be related to past chemo? I’ve developed intense itching on both hands, wrists and inside of elbows. Initially GP put me on a mild steriod cream and I’ve tried to keep my toiletries organic/fragrance free. I resorted to wearing cotton gloves at work and also found an alternative cream (Mahonia Aquifolium) which seem to be helping. However, a recent flare-up (swollen, red hands, broken weeping skin,) has meant anti-biotics and I’m now wondering if there is a link to wheat-intolerance in my gut or that my system has developed this intolerance as a long term side effect to chemo? I’m due to have a test for celiac disease - which  from what I’ve read is an auto-immune disease from early years - so again am wondering, could chemo 5 years have brought this on at my age of 47? 


I would be very grateful to hear if anyone has had experiences like this?


Many Thanks

Heather xx