Refusing Further Treatment?

Hello. I had surgery 3 weeks ago: a lumpectomy for a small oestrogen receptor positive tumour. The surgeon has told me that the operation was a success and all margins were clear - with no progress into the lymph nodes. Obviously, I’m grateful for this. But. There is a big ‘but’. It has all been so traumatic and I’m left with one horribly flattened, flaccid and terrifically painful boob, and no money because it’s hard to work. The rest of my life is entirely on hold, and I am suffering really badly from menopausal symptoms (pretty much all of them!) since having had to stop HRT very abruptly. I am thinking of refusing any further treatment - either radiotherapy or endocrine - so I can get on with my life and get back to work. What would your opinion be?

Hello sorry to hear you’re feeling so low. The pain in boob will improve. I had the same followed by radiotherapy.

I feel the radio is belt and braces. I was tired during it and for a few weeks after but soon felt human again.

Thanks so much for replying, GG. It’s great to hear something positive! However I’m concerned that the potential after-effects may be a case of the remedy is worse than the disease. There’s such a disruptive effect on my work - without which I can’t afford to pay the bills. (ESA has refused to help so far, saying that I’m ‘not entitled because I’m self-employed’. Even though I’ve paid all my N.I, all my life.)

The BMJ says that radioT and endo treatment can have major long-term side effects like causing/worsening future osteoporosis. Also that in the future you may get UTIs, lose your hair, get fat, lose libido, etc etc. I am worried about osteoporosis: the women in my family seem to get it really badly (my Mum has a lot of pain in the spine).

Hi skysurfer

Thank you for posting. It sounds as if you have been having a really difficult time since your surgery three weeks ago. It’s not uncommon to feel a wide range of emotions following a diagnosis of breast cancer and it’s understandable you’re feeling traumatised and unsure if whether you want to have any further treatment. We are not able to provide an opinion on this but would encourage you to talk to your treatment team and breast care nurse about how you are feeling. They can provide information and support and help you weigh up the risks and benefits of not having further treatment.

Pain and discomfort following breast surgery is not uncommon and whilst everyone’s experience is different, as Grannygrunt suggests, does usually settle over time. You don’t mention if you are taking any medication for the pain you’re experiencing. But we would encourage you to contact you breast care nurse or GP. They can assess you and may be able to prescribe some additional pain relief.

Breast surgery can affect the shape and size of the breast, and this can be very difficult to adjust to. Again, do talk to you breast care nurse about how you are feeling. She can provide you with information and support about bras, partial breast prosthesis and whether in the future, further surgery may be possible to add shape and volume to the breast. Some people find it helpful to explore their thoughts and feeling through talking therapy and your breast care nurse can tell you more about what is available in your area.

Menopausal symptoms can be very debilitating, particularly for people who have suddenly had to stop HRT. Our booklet Menopausal symptoms and breast cancer has lots of useful information about things which may help with different symptoms.

Financial concerns can add to the stress of a breast cancer diagnosis. If you think you night benefit from a financial assessment Macmillan Cancer Support provide more detailed information and have a dedicated team of Welfare Rights Advisers.

We offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in. They include face to face and online courses and events. In particular, talking to someone who has had a similar experience can often be helpful. Our Someone Like Me service can match you with a trained volunteer who’s had a similar experience to you. You can be in touch with your volunteer by phone or email and they can share their personal experiences to answer your questions, offer support or simply listen to how you are feeling.

You can ring the Someone Like Me team on 0114 263 6490 or email them at, so they can then match you to your volunteer.

You are also welcome to call our helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. The helpline team have time to listen to your concerns, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

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Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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