Weekly chemo


I’m Lisa and have a 2nd breast cancer. My first was 12 years ago, er and her 2 positive, 76mm plus DCIS and I had successful treatment including chemo, radio, herceptin, tamoxifen, mastectomy and DIEP recon.

I have been diagnosed with a new BC in my other breast and had surgery a few weeks which was successful with clear margins. I had a massive hematoma that needed emergency surgery but that’s another story and I’m still traumatised about it.  This time the cancer is much smaller 12mm and no node involvement. I have had genetics tests and am waiting for results and surgeon has recommended that I speak to oncology team about pros and cons of having chemo. I get a feeling that it’s not a clear cut yes, I should have chemo and I’ll need to make a decision weighing up pros and cons. I don’t know yet what the stats are but I know that if I do have chemo it will be weekly chemo which I have been told is less aggressive than FEC T which I had 11 years ago? 

Can anyone help me and let me know honestly what the side effects of weekly chemo are? Sorry I don’t know which type it might be. It would be really helpful to understand the side effects before I meet the oncology team so I can factor this in to my decision making.

thank you for taking the time to read this.


Hi Lisa

This must be a hell of a shock to you. I think it’s important to understand that we are all different and can experience the same chemotherapy in very different ways. Some are swamped by side effects, others swan through, carry on working and it barely seems to affect them. So my experience will be very different from yours.

Chemotherapy has moved on a lot since your first treatment, as have most adjuvant therapies, so it might not be such a tough ride. I had paclitaxel weekly. I was hit hard the first few days as there were no steroids. The following days were ok but not great but I don’t know if I was still reeling from the first type of chemo (EC, so I hate to think what the F and T add to it) which knocked me for 6 and left me with neutropoenic sepsis! I was just glad to get through it all. Paclitaxel brought almost complete hair loss, loss of appetite because of mouth ulcers and weird taste sensations and a degree of peripheral neuropathy which left me with numb fingertips and tingling toes. For some people it’s permanent, for most it wears off. But you might metabolise things differently. You might have a different drug. Who knows?

You may be given the stats indicating the difference the treatment may make to your cure. It’s always a matter of choice but if they say 3%, remember that’s 0% difference to some people and 50% difference to someone else. So don’t avoid chemo for chemo’s sake. Personally I think it’s always worth doing whatever you can to reduce the risk of metastasis. 

I wish you all the best for whatever lies ahead,

Jan x