Starting treatment, which one to choose chemo or hormones?

Hello, I am 61, had cancer in the right breast four years ago, mastectomy but nothing else as it was tripple negative and it didn’t appear it had spread.

Four years later, cancer appeared in the left breast, a new one, after a ct scan because something appeared in my lungs after a radiography, found out that it has spread to the lungs, the left lung, so I have now secondary breast cancer on the lungs, I had a mastectomy to the left breast as well.


This cancer is different from the other, it is positive and it has many options of treatment.

I have to choose between chemotherapy FEC or hormone Anastrozole (Arimidex)

The oncologist is advising chemo, I am very scared of chemotherapy, the way I am going to feel physically.


I wonder if there is anybody out there who could advice me on the choice, and also explained to me step by step what you feel when the first cycle is give as I have to decide on the 20th of this month in my next visit.


I am feeling very low and in shock, when I went for the mastectomy they said it was very small and no further treatment would be needed, it wasn’t so as it has spread. I am also frightened, cry a lot for no apparent reason, I don’t feel angry or depress just sad, I think, can’t understand all these tears, I am hoping to pull myself together and start thinking positive, at the moment all I can think is the uncertainty of my life and how I am going to cope with chemo as everybody is painting a horrible picture of that treatment, I am really scared. I cannot look at any of my grandchildren without bursting into tears, my children keep on bringing them to me to encourage me, to make me fight but at the moment all I can think is “WHAT IF”

Hope some of you there answer, so that I can have some opinions from people that have gone or are going through the same situation.


Thanks everyone


Hello Josie

I’m sorry to hear of you recent diagnosis, this must be a very difficult time for you. 

Maybe you would like to talk things through with a member of our helpline staff who are there to offer emotional support as well as practical information. The free phone number is 0808 800 6000 and the lines are open Monday to Friday 9.00 to 5.00 and Saturday 10.00 to 2.00.

Best wishes

June, moderator

Dear Josie
In truth, nobody can make this decision for you. It is something you really have to work through. I will tell you what happened to me. I am now 62, 61 when dx. I had mx and sentinal node biopsy. Cancer was grade 3 and strongly hormone positive. I didn’t take long to decide that I would have Fec-T, followed by Anastrazole. I wasn’t too bad on Fec, but the Tax made me quite ill. So they put me back on Fec again. I have, however, had problems with “A-nasty-stroll” as it made me so itchy I have damaged my skin. It wasn’t a normal itch, but deep inside and impossible to relieve. So I am no longer taking them. After a 4 week break, I will be taking Tamoxifen. 
Have they specified that your secondary cancer is definitely from the new one, and not the old triple neg cancer you had first? I only ask, as you said you had MX alone. I understand that triple neg usually requires chemo as there isn’t any other treatment.
If it were me, I would want to throw everything I could at it, especially if I had secondaries. I would definitely have chemo after surgery. There are lots of drugs the oncologists can give you to deal with the side effects. Also, for low immunity periods they can also give you an injection to help your body build new white cells. Whatever you feel during the first treatment (everyone is different with their side effects) that will be the pattern with subsequent treatments.
In this section of the forums, there are the chemotherapy monthly threads. I suggest you read a few to get an idea of what others have been through. I am a February Valentine, and quite a few of us are coming up to, or just past 60. But there are lots of other months to choose from. 
Wishing you well, whatever your decision.
poemsgalore xx

Hi Josie,


I’m so sorry you find yourself in this position.


I’m 65 and was diagnosed last December. My tumour was HER2 positive, so I needed Herceptin, and as this is only licenced for use alongside chemo in primary BC I had no choice but to have chemo. Since finishing chemo at the end of July, and going through a course of radiotherapy, I am fine. I feel well and almost back to normal.


I was dreading it, like everyone, because the only experience I had was from TV or films. But it really is not as bad as you imagine. It is doable and manageable. It is only a few months out of your life, and then it’s over. I had 6 doses of Docetaxol and Carboplatin and can honestly say I was fine. I lost my hair, which we all do, and I got more fatigued as I went along but I was never sick and hardly ever needed any painkillers, just the odd Paracetamol. I can also say I never really felt ill as such. We are all different in how we react to these drugs.


Another thing to consider is that most of the people who come on these forums are having problems in one way or another, so you will hear horror stories and think it happens to everyone, but it doesn’t. Those that have no problems tend not to use the forums. That isn’t to say you won’t have any problems, you may do, but your oncology team is there to help, and you will be precribed medicines to help with any side effects.


If your oncologist is recommending chemo, then I would bite the bullet and go for it. He is the expert and knows best how to treat your particular diagnosis. If it really is horrible, you don’t need to continue, you can withdraw at any time.


Good luck with whatever you decide. xxx