New to this - a few questions



My wife is still at the diagnosis stage but it’s not looking good so far with a mass of tumour on one side & lymph involvement. No other details as yet.


Mammogram two years ago was supposed to be clear. Can it really develop from no signs to lymph involvement so quickly ?


Talk of chemo + surgery + radiotherapy. Which has prompted a few questions.

Is hair loss inevitable  or worth trying the cold cap ?

If she looses her hair can she still wear a hard hat for exercising her pony ? It is her hair that keeps the hat in correct position. Would a wig do the same ?

Will she have energy to ride quietly so during chemo ?


If chemo comes first, doesn’t it weaken the immune system to make infections & surgery- healing more difficult ?






Hi Robbie and welcome to the BCC forums
I am sorry to read of your wife’s recent diagnosis, you have come to the right place for support and information from your fellow users. In addition our helpliners are on hand with practical and emotional support for both of you so please feel free to call to talk any queries or concerns over on 0808 800 6000 weekdays 9-5 and Sat 10-2

You may both find the following information about treatments, side effects and further support from BCC helpful, just follow these links:

Please also feel free to post in the family and partners area of the site for further support

Tale care
Lucy BCC

Hello Robbie


Firstly, can I wish you and your wife good luck and good health.


I was diagnosed in December with a 50mm invasive ductal carcinoma and infected nodes. I went straight into FEC-T chemo 11 days later. I chose not to bother about the cold cap as it can cause a lot of discomfort, but I know that if you do you use it, you can hang on to more than 50% of your hair, but may have bare patches. And by the way, yes 2 years is a very long time in cancer development. it might have grown to the stage it’s at now in just 6 months.


I found that after each chemo cycle there were maybe 2 or 3 days when I didn’t have the energy to do much, but apart from that, I was out and about each day, so no reason why your wife shouldn’t be able to exercise the pony regularly at that stage. Some ladies go running every day! The chemo does reduce your immune system but you have injections into your tummy for 5 or 7 consecutive days to build it up again so after that you are not at risk any more. You just have to be sensible. I did not pick up any infections throughout my chemo. They give you a break of at least 4 weeks after your last chemo session to enable the side effects tom ease off, so by the time you have the op, you feel fit again. Your immune system is also totally back to normal.


I can’t answer the question about the helmet as I have no experience of that. A wig has far fewer hairs on it than your natural head of hair though. And I’d also be slightly worried about the consequences of her falling from the pony - what if the wig and helmet both came away from her head? Make sure you look into that carefully.


I had a full mastectomy and axillary node clearance on 9th May, 5 weeks after I finished chemo. I was home from hospital the next day, and felt really fit, but stayed indoors until my drains were removed (for me, 5 days, but this can vary a lot depending on each hospital’s policy). However, I had to do physiotherapy exercises to get my arm working again as it is very stiff and sore where they remove the lymph nodes. You can’t drive for at least 2 weeks (as not covered on insurance), and you can no longer lift anything heavy with that arm ever again. You are also at permanent risk of lymphodema. I would think that she would be unable to exercise the pony for about 3 or 4 weeks after surgery because of these problems. However, the wound itself heals very quickly for most of us - a few have problems. I didn’t have any, luckily. It is now 4 weeks since my op and I am back to normal. Yesterday I went to hospital for the planning session for radiotherapy - they line the x-ray machine up and mark your body with tiny permanent tattoos to help align it in exactly the same position each day during treatment.


I am due to start 15 sessions of radiotherapy on 25th June. I do not expect to suffer any significant side effects other than maybe a tanning of the skin on the area being zapped. I intend to drive myself there and back every day. That should give you a good idea that by the time she gets that far through treatment, she will be back to normal.


I know it sounds scary at the moment, but hopefully hearing how it has been from an actual patient currently going through it will help you to see that it’s not that bad. I feel so healthy now. I’m out exercising every day, my hair is growing back and evryone says I look amazingly healthy after everything I’ve been through. I’m 48 by the way, and have been keeping house for my husband and two teenage sons throughout treatment.


If you have any other questions, please fire away. Try to reassure your wife though - breast cancer has the highest survival rate of them all, and the treatment is all so well tried and tested - they know exactly what they are doing. She’ll be fine x

I am glad my reply has reassured you. When we are first diagnosed, we go into panic mode, convinced this is the end. But many of us, like me, are coming out the other side of treatment after 6-8 months, being told we are in remission, and feeling fitter than we have for years. I know there are no guarantees but it really isn’t anywhere near as bad as you initially imagine. I know you have some concerns, but hopefully I have helped you focus on the questions you need to ask at the next appointment. Just remember to focus on what matters here. Hair? No. Reduced ability in an arm? No. A breast? No. Life. Yes, we will happily lose any of these to cure this illness and give us back our life.