To chemo or not to chemo?

Hi all.

I was DX in Nov’13, 1.7mm grade 2 ER & PR 8/8, HER2-.
Lumpectomy thru a WLI & SNB showed clear margins and no node involvement. I’m 34 yo and have no children.

Initially I was offered Rads & Tam but was then called back to discuss chemo (x6 FEC-75 every 3 weeks).

This would be to reduce the risk of recurrence an overall 3% in addition to the advantages of rads and Tam for 10 years.

We opted for the Oncotype DX and the result has come back as 26 which is middle of the intermediate section so according to the stats chemo may or may not give me an advantage.

The decision is now back down to me deciding. In my situation, chemo isn’t curative but rather about risk reduction. My Onc has advised me to have the chemo BUT it comes with the whole possible infertility/ early menopause etc issues so I’ve been told to work out what my priorities are. Another option she has offered would be to have rads, combined Zol/Tam for 2yrs, break for a family and then back onto Tam for a remaining 8years.

I’ve been offered embryo preservation which I’m going ahead with but I’m swinging between having the chemo or not.

Everything comes with risk as all this treatment doesn’t guarantee anything so I’m deciding between 3% advantage of having chemo with peace of mind but compromising fertility (the success of live birth from embryo preservation has its own stats) or going forward with rads/Zol & tam & preserving some level of my natural fertility with peace of mind but compromising the 3% advantage?

Has anyone else had a similar experience where their Onc left it up to them? I got married just before DX and we had been hoping to start a family ASAP so I’m trying to take the heated emotion out of the decision making to make things a little clearer and would be grateful for any advice/thoughts or opinions.

Hi Nushy,


I’m quite new to this forum so not too well up on all the abbreviations; plus serious chemo brain issues ensure there is no possibility of me working them out!


I’m 32 & would like to have at least the possibility of having a family, so can fully understand your dilemma.  I had a mastectomy & reconstruction in October & was then invited in to speak to my oncologist.  He went through my diagnosis & told me that if I have chemo, the chances of me still being here in 10 years increase by 20%.  He also said that they hadn’t really figured out defrosting frozen eggs, so only would’ve done frozen embryos.  I’m not a position to provide them alas, but he was quite against the whole affair due to the delay in starting treatment.  He did say though that the chances of early menopause were between 5 & 10% which I think is quite negligible in medical terms.  He didn’t offer up a range of options I’m afraid, really just take it or leave it!!  (I’m in Northern Ireland - it’s possible we’re slightly different).


I finished chemo in Feb & looking back I wish I’d taken a little more time to consider rather than just blindly going into it.  That’s not to say I wouldn’t have gone ahead with it, but I basically left it in the hands of the doctors & did as I was told!  However, chemo is absolutely horrific & deserves a little more consideration than I gave it.  I had regular periods up until after treatment 5 of 6, but I haven’t had any menopausal side effects, no tropical moments or beards!  So I’m hopeful that I’ve come out of it reasonably in tact.


I would absolutely not seek to advise you in any way; it can only be your decision.  I suppose the 2 things I would highlight are that the risk to fertility was minimised to me due to the chemo regime I was on (3 FEC-T, 3 Docetaxol), but also that chemo was the worst experience I’ve ever had & if I were to have a recurrence, I would think very carefully before going through it again.


I hope I haven’t just confused matters completely!  You are absolutely doing the right thing considering your options & I wish I’d done more of it.  Take care of yourself luvvie.



Hi janeypie

Here’s a link to the BCC glossary of terms and abbreviations which may be helpful to you:

Best wishes
Lucy BCC

:womanhappy:Thanks Lucy!; Any chance you could come with me when I have to go back to work?!!


Thank you Janeypie

I’ve decided against taking the chemo after churning through all the pros/cons & stats so I’ll be starting Radiotherapy very shortly followed by medication (Tamoxifen & Zoladex) with chances for a “baby break” within the next couple of years

It’s such a daunting situation to face & I’ve been very lucky having family & a few close friends who could talk thru the options really logically with me. Also my Onc was incredibly supportive when I turned it down which has also given me confidence it was the right thing for me. Had she said anything else then I suppose I’d be getting ready to take the chemo.

I hope everything is going well for you and you are feeling better every day.

Lots of love N xx

Hi Nushy,


I’m delighted you’re in a position to avoid chemo with the doc’s blessing.


I hope everything works out for you & I’m sure the baby break will fly round!!

Thanks Janeypie

Sorry I haven’t logged on for some time, now started my RT so events overtook me a little.

I hope you are doing well. Xxx