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Life-limiting illness

Breast cancer radiotherapy and chemo advice please

8 replies

invicta · 26/08/2012 17:16

I've recently had a lumphecomy and will soon be going for an appointment to discuss the next stage of treatment. Ie. radiotherapy and possible chemo. Can anyone give me any advice on these? I am more interested in the practical aspects - ie. can you drive? Work ? How long they take ? Thanks.

OP posts:
chocoluvva · 27/08/2012 12:48

Aww. That is a scunner.
Radiotherapy sessions are usually every weekday for a few weeks (4-6 prob)and take a few minutes. You'll just sit or lie on the table thingy and feel nothing. The effects are cumulative- hopefully they'll be limited to sore skin, and you will probably begin to feel tired, as healthy surrounding tissue is affected by the radiowaves so your body will be busy repairing and renewing healthy cells.
I'd think you'll be fine to drive - ask for a parking pass.
Helpful web site: Macmillan
Cancer research
Cancerbacup (american).
The chemo will probably be horrible, to be honest. Avoiding infection is a major concern. Lots of side effects, but the chemo nurses usually have something to help with them so be sure to ask.

invicta · 27/08/2012 19:15

Thanks for your reply. I was beginning to think that no one had read my post.

OP posts:
chocoluvva · 27/08/2012 19:24

Yes, that's why I posted. I thought you'd get loads of replies from people who've had breast cancer.
I had a different cancer last year which was treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I worked (part-time) through the radio therapy but hardly did any work while having chemo - but I had a couple of complications during the chemo. I think it's quite an individual thing.
I'll keep my fingers crossed for you not needing chemo.

ninjanurse · 27/08/2012 19:24

Hiya, Im sorry to hear of your illness. I am a community nurse and we look after a lot of people who have had radiotherapy or chemo. What always strikes me is how chemo affects people so differently. Some people feel exhausted with it, some suffer sickness or just generally feeling rough. They would usually prescribe anti sickness tablets for you. Chemo can take place in different forms, some people have tablets and just go into hospital for an IV infusion every 1-2 weeks, some people have a 'pump' which goes into a hickman line, which stays up for 48 hours. I would imagine you would have radiotherapy first and then they would reassess you for further treatment. McMillan website is good, and they have a helpline you can ring for further advice.

BackforGood · 27/08/2012 19:31

I can only comment on the radiotherapy, and would say exactly the same as choccoluva. Smile
If you look in 'General Health' for a thread called 'Tamoxifen' you will find a wealth of lovely ladies who will be able to answer whatever questions you can think of (between them) and also hold your hand as you go through this.

IamtheZombie · 27/08/2012 19:40

Hi invicta.

I was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer last November. I had a mastectomy 12 days after diagnosis. As far as they can tell, the mastectomy removed all the cancer and my lymph nodes were clear.

Because it was an aggressive cancer and because the tumours were both hormone and HER2 positive I'm going through the full range of adjuvant therapies.

I had 6 cycles of FEC regimen chemo between January and May. My biggest problem was managing the side effects of the anti-nausea drugs. But, by the end of cycle 2 I'd worked out a strategy and cycles 3 - 6 were relatively easy.

In May / June I had 3 weeks of radiotherapy to my chest wall.

In May I also started on a 5 year course of Arimidex.

In July I began a year long course of Herceptin. This is similar to chemo in that it's administered on a 3 week cycle.

As others have said, everyone reacts differently and I know that I have been fortunate to tolerate all the treatments very well.

The biggest cumulative effect is fatigue. Oddly enough, the best way to fight that is to keep making yourself do as much as you can.

If you any specific questions, just ask.

Best of luck!

fuzzysnout · 27/08/2012 19:59

The breast cancer care website has a forum which is a really useful place to get help and information, especially once you know which specific treatments you are having. It's a fab place for advice or just chatting to others in the same situation. Good luck!

invicta · 29/08/2012 22:30

Thanks for all your replies. I shall certainly look up teh tamoxifen thread.

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