Nervous about having Chemotherapy

I had a mastectomy with reconstruction 3 weeks ago which I am recovering from well. The results of the operation came back and showed I still have 2cm of pre cancerous cells near the skin of my breast. The best treatment for me is Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy and Herceptin (not sure of the spelling). I haven’t had my appointment for the oncologist yet, but am getting myself in a real tizzy worrying about having chemotherapy and the side effects. Is anyone else having the same fears?

hi redcap am in exactly same position seeing oncologist on tus maybe we could add each other as a friend as were starting on this rd about the same time xxlots of love caz

Hi Redcap and Caz D,
i had mx and expander implant 3 weeks ago and start chemo 4 x AC and 4 x TAX on Wed. There is an April Awesome angels thread where there are lots of people who started or are starting chemo in April, feel free to join as they have lots of experience to help you and some hints about side effects(SE’s).
good luck with your next appointments and all your treatment

Hello to you all,
Try not to be nervous about the Chemo , it is not too bad at all really. I had FEC T about 2 years ago and I was never sick. I think we are all worried about the side affects because we have watched films like My Sisters Keeper, But it is nothing like that at all. The anti sickness drugs are so good that nearly everyone I know has not been sick or nauseous, which was my biggest fear.
The worst thing for me was a very sore mouth so stock up on the ice lollies as that helps to soothe your mouth. I had to have an antibiotic mouthwash and I would say that I lost my taste buds. Simple things like eating salt and vinegar crisps I could no longer taste them , but again just adapt and try new softer foods. I made smoothies out of my favourite fruits, and milk shakes. It is a time to let everyone look after you and if you feel like sitting on the sofa with your dressing gown on with your favourite book and music playing then go ahead.
I wish you all the very best and keep in touch with one another and you will be able to help each other through the tough times and moments of despair. Lots of love, positive vibes and gentle hugs , Tracy xxx

Hi Tracy
Thanks for this post. Had my first chemo last Thursday. Felt ok for 2 days but horrid mouth, insomnia and bad headaches are not making me feel great today! I was awake most of the night feeling that I couldn’t do this - posts like yours give me hope. Just need a good sleep…
Wendy x

<address>Hi Redacp. Had my results on 12th April after surgery. Tumour removed and two more pre cancerous lumps removed but clear margins to the chest wall.I had a right breast mx. They found 4 out of 18 nodes infected so <i>I</i> now have to have a bone x ray and CT scan but they have reassurred me that this is just procedure at the hospital because if they find 4 or more nodes infected they have to follow procedure (the consultant didn’t seem concerned and felt that although there are no guarentees he was confident all the cancer had been taken and he has been spot on with dx all the way through so I trust him) . I now have chemo, rads and hormone treatment (Herceptin) to look forward to and have my appointment with the oncologist on Tuesday to discuss this and possibly going onto a trial. My consultant has said not to be afraid of the treatment coming my way because in his many years of experience statitics show that ladies go on to life healthy 20yrs 30 yrs and beyond. Doing the maths I am 43 now so I could life to be well into my seventies. I know everyday isn’t going to be a great day on chemo but I do know I am having these drugs to stop the cancer comimg back. I have a year of treatment coming my way but I have a great team of medical staff behind me( in Stoke on Trent), fantastic friends, Wonderful family, two boys that make me laugh and give some normality and finally a husband that has never doubted that I can beat this ( and many many many poeple do go on to beat this ). Chemo isn’t going to be the best part of my life but I will find ways to ease it. Look forward to the good days, go shopping, go walking, be with people you love to be with look forward to your next holiday. This has been a wake up call for me. Life is to be enjoyed in whatever way is best for you so grab every moment. My nurse has said that not all ladies get side effects and if they do they don’t get them all. I am most worried about the sickness because im a bit of a babylike that but she did say I will loose my hair which I expected, so me and the girls are going shopping for scarves and lunching at the same time (OH has said will shave head to,he’s mad). I will leave you alone now(written an essay) but any more info and experience I gain I will pass on if that’s ok.This isn’t what you or I expected to go through in life but we will come out of it at the other end. I have heard so many positive storties since my dx you can’t help but be positve yourself.Don’t be to afraid there are lots of good,kind people out there to help you through this. Good luck and hugs xx (Angela) Elliedog</address>

I finished chemo in January (6 FEC) and although no walk in the park, it really wasn’t too bad. I felt rough for 3 or 4 days each cycle and got pretty tired towards the end but I worked all the way through mostly from home. I got out for walks most days even though they were very short sometimes but as my treatment was through the winter I needed to get into the fresh air when I could as sitting in the garden wasn’t an option!

i didn’t lose my hair as I used a cold cap, it did go a lot thinner and the cold cap is pretty painful but it has been worth it as now 3 months on, my hair looks completely normal.

Good luck with your treatment and my best advise is plan a holiday for when it is over, we have just had a week in the sun and it was wonderful to be doing normal things again.
Jayne x

The thing about the side effects is that for everyone it is different, and you simply cannot predict how it will affect you.

When people say ‘it is not too bad at all’ they mean that it how it was for them but really, you can’t extrapolate from that. And you only need to look at the evidence on this forum to see that there are a large number of people for whom it’s pretty horrible.

If you read through the chemo threads on here, you will see that some people go through absolute hell - and I am one of those people - with violent nausea, severe stomach toxicity and other problems - even WITH all the extra meds they give you. I am on FEC6, day 9, and it is has been 17 weeks of hell, frankly. I am on the December chemo thread which includes several others who have found it pretty difficult.

Others experience only minor side effects, like the people who have posted above, but it is simply not predictable.

The important thing is to DEMAND help quickly from the hospital if you have problems. And you can learn from others’ experiences - there is a huge amount of info on this forum about side effects and how to deal with them. I’m sorry to sound so negative but I think it would wrong to let you assume that the side efffects will necessarily be neglible. That was not my experience.

Good luck - I hope you wil lbe one of the lucky ones!

Hi Redcap…every patient reacts to chemo differently and every indiividual to different chemos differently, so no easy answer! Yes, chemo is a scary thought, a systemic treatment not only killing off any lurking cancer cells but also healthy cells too. it is likely that you will have a range of side effects, but you must ask for what you need to mitigate these. You are usually automatically given steroids and anti-sickness medication, and if you need something more effective then ask for it. The only problem is that you won’t know what side effects will affect you until you get them! It might be useful to follow a thread with people starting chemo at the same time as you…I did, as it was a good comparison…although I never posted! Please remember though that the threads usually comprise a relatively small number of posters, to keep things in perspective. I kept a daily diary which was very useful for my Onc appts just before each chemo. It helped me to remember things, to know what to expect (more or less) for each treatment and to plan meals for when I could taste them, as you ‘live in the moment’ if you know what I mean? You may have to adjust your diet as for most people things do taste very different. If this happens then try to avoid your favourite foods/drink as it might put you off in the future…I still cannot face crystallised ginger nearly a year after chemo!! Unless you have the cold cap you will lose your hair…I am now very proud of my 2cm of ‘baby hair’ although it is grey! If you can bear it wait for a wig fitting until you have very little hair left, as I had very thick hair and never used my wig as it was so loose I was scare of it flying off! Listen to your body, rest when you need to. Get plenty of fresh air if you can as a bit of exercise helps with the tiredness, which is cumulative. I worked through chemo as much as I could which kept a level of normailty for me, but I appreciate this is not possible for everyone. Moisturise, moisturise and moisturise! Your skin is likely to become very dry. And finally…accept all offers of genuine help :slight_smile: I finished chemo 10 months ago and it really does feel like a dim and distant memory…apart from a couple of niggly longer-lasting side effects I feel back to ME! Best wishes for your treatment and I hope this helps in a small way.

Hi Caz D. It would be lovely to share notes and support each other. Thank you.
Sorry about the late reply, still finding my way around the forum. x

Hi everyone who has replied. Thank you for all your replies. I feel close to tears whenever people are nice to me.
I know there is a long road ahead of me and I just want to get it over and done with.xx

Hi Redcap. As you can see from the above posts everyone’s chemo experience is different. I was one of the lucky ones. Sick only once and was given meds to sort it out. Sore eyes and dry mouth have been my biggest problems. Fatigue hasn’t been too bad. I have always been well enough to do my housework each day - have never felt the need to stay in bed or even take to the couch - however by the evening I’m tired. Have done my big weekly shop as usual, cooked every evening, as well as walking my dogs. My theory was that if chemo gave me a better chance of keeping cancer away then I’d have it and put up with the consequences for 4 months. I think a positive attitude helps. If you think you are going to feel bad the chances are you will feel bad. Either way it has to be better to perhaps suffer for a few months to prolong your life. Just my opinion. I’m now 5 weeks post chemo and feel quite normal. It’s a bit like giving birth - once it’s over you forget how bad it was!!!

I agree with Border Collies, we forget the Chemo side affects just like Childbirth, but having a Positive attitude does help you to cope. Try not to sit on the Feeling Sorry for yourself bench. That does not mean to say that the ladies who suffer terrible side affects do not have a positive approach, just that they have sensitive tummies and are prone to problems.
I agree we are all so different and I hope and pray that all of you starting Chemo in April and May cope really well. Drink lots and lots of water to hydrate your body and keep your veins pumped up. All the very best to you all. Love Tracy xxx

Hi Border Collies and tracyId, Thank you. I normally am a really positive person and have been cracking jokes all the way about my mastectomy. I think it is the initial waiting and once I get going on it, I will overcome each obstacle as it comes. It is the fear of the unknown.
Good to know you can go about your daily work.
Love to oyou all, Redcap xx