To chemo or not too chemo


I was not too sure where to post this but as you guys seem to be the ones who are going through it all right now I thought you could give me some insight. My story so far…

Diagnosed with invasive ductal cancer three weeks ago (seem like longer). This is my first posting. I’ve had a lumpectomy and the lump is small (2 cms). I heard today that the lymph nodes were clear (phew). I am quite young (or like to think so) at 36 years old and the cancer is aggressive. I will have radiotherapy and hormone therapy but have basically been given the choice over chemotherapy. I know that makes me a lot luckier than many out there. But I am trying to weigh it all up. The chemo will give me a very small benefit over the long term (1-4%) but the treatment does sound pretty hellish so any insights/comments/advice would be appreciated.


Hi sorry i can’t help I’m Three weeks behind you. I’m having a lumpectomy on thursday. mine is just under 2cm and invasive ductal too. I think you should be over the moon about your lymph nodes. I,m a nurse and I have been taught to think of the chemo as an insurance policy’, so I would play it safe and have it , go with the recommendation of the breast care nuse.

I was diagnosed in april just had my 3rd dose chemo a/c apart from being a bit constipated and sickly for first couple of days I feel great . I can tell the cancer is shrinking so its worth it you got to give it your best shot

Hi Kirsty

I was diagnosed with Grade 3 cancer (not sure which one, didn’t ask) in December 06. I had a lumpectomy and full node clearance in January and luckily all my lymph nodes were clear and they got clear margins (my ‘lump’ was also 2cm). I’m not hormone receptive, so was only offered chemo and rads. I started 4 x Epi/4 x CMF in February and will finish in 5 weeks and to be honest the chemo has not been bad at all, no sickness, no sore mouth, tiredness not too bad etc. I was also told that it was an ‘insurance policy’ and to give me every chance of non-recurrence. I thought about it and decided that, if it did come back and I had refused the chemo, I’d only have myself to blame, so I went for it. It is do-able and not nearly as scary as I imagined. You will get tons of support from all of us here and we’ll hold your hand every step of the way. Give yourself every chance sweetie, you’ll get there I promise.

Love Julie

Hi Kirsty - turn the question back to the oncologist ask him if it was his wife would he insist on his wife having chemo

if it increases your chances even slightly I’d go for it. I’m another one who’s side effects have been relatively good. you will hear of others on this site who have had bad side effects as everyone is different but they have medication for every problem that chemo throws at you so you should be fine.

Going by your figures it is a very small benefit in your case but every percent counts - good luck on your decision

Hello Kirsty

My tumour was smaller than yours - 12mm - but I had 2 positive nodes. I was also told that chemo would improve my chances by only 3% - 4%. I decided to have it as I felt if the cancer did come back and I had refused the chemo then I would not have been able to forgive myself. I thought it was important to accept all the treatments offered to give myself the best possible chance.

The chemo wasn’t particularly pleasant but they give you loads of medications for the side effects so it isn’t that bad and it is ‘doable’.

Good luck
Love Anthi

Hi all,

Thanks for all the comments. It certainly is worth asking the questions on this site - I’ve got loads to think about. My oncologist is female, but I will ask what she would do in my situation. I am heading towards having the chemo as it doesn’t sound quite so scary. Feeling not nearly so alone now. Thanks to all of you.

Hi Kirsty

Your situation sounds very similar to mine - 2 cm lump, give or take, and (thankfully) no nodes affected. I was 33 at the time I was diagnosed and I was told I’d definitely have radiotherapy and tamoxifen, but had to decide whether or not to have the chemo. As others have said, I felt that I had to take everything that was offered to me now so that if it did come back later I wouldn’t torture myself with “what ifs” - at least I can feel there’s nothing more I could have done. I had E-CMF and I did have quite a hard time with it in some respects, but finished at the beginning of April and I don’t think I have any lasting side effects now, just fatigue which my oncologist assures me will go eventually, and which is probably at least as much due to the radiotherapy as the chemo. It’s amazing how quickly your body heals itself and your mind forgets very quickly how bad you have felt - and that’s if you do feel bad - lots of people seem not to. I found that I had at least one really good week in between chemos and that went a long way to sustaining me.

Good luck whatever you decide

Love, Patience

Hi Kirsty

Like you I am 36 years old, and the chemo improves my chances by about 9%, so a bit more than the percentage you were given. I felt that I had to do everything possible to eliminate the cancer, and like the other girls say, so I could know if it returns that I did all I could and took every treatment going. I work in chemotherapy as a normal day to day job, and it is as Anthi says above totally ‘doable’, most women get through it ‘OK’ if a little battered and bruised at the end of it !!! You are young, and I think the chemo will be fine for you but good luck with whatever you decide.