Personal stories about choosing chemotherapy for breast cancer
These stories are based on information gathered from health
professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health
Laurel, age 43: I was diagnosed with breast
cancer 3 years ago. It was quite a shock. Even though my breast cancer was
small and I did not have any cancer cells in my lymph nodes, I decided to take
chemotherapy. My doctor said that even though it would not guarantee that the
cancer would not come back, it would improve my chances for a cure. I was
really worried about the side effects, but they were not that bad. I just
wanted to do everything in my power to beat this breast cancer. My checkups
have been fine so far, so I think I made the right choice.
Marty, age 56: I was diagnosed with breast
cancer about 3 years after I went through menopause. My breast cancer was
small, and I did not have any cancer in my lymph nodes. I stopped taking my
menopause hormones, had surgery and radiation, and have been taking tamoxifen
ever since. I see my doctor a couple of times a year and so far have been okay.
I'm going to ask my doctor if I'm a good candidate for switching to something
like Arimidex. I hear that it's a smart choice for some women.
Brenda, age 50: I found out about my breast
cancer last year. I don't have a family history of it or any of the risk
factors that you read about. I chose to have a lumpectomy with radiation
treatments, and when my doctor talked to me about chemotherapy, I thought "Why
not?" I figure I should do everything possible to make sure that this breast
cancer does not come back. I know that if it does and I had decided against the
chemo, I will feel really guilty and be mad at myself for making the wrong
choice. The treatment was kind of a drag, but not too bad. Now we just have to
wait and see what happens next.
Janice, age 40: I got breast cancer 2 years
ago. What a surprise! I don't have any family history (that I know of), and I
don't have the other risk factors that my doctor talked to me about.
Fortunately, my breast cancer was really small, and it hadn't traveled to the
lymph nodes under my arm. My doctor said that whether or not I had chemotherapy
was pretty much up to me. I travel a lot with my work and just didn't see how I
could fit it in. My doctor said that chemotherapy would only have a small
effect on my odds of having the cancer come back, so I decided not to have the
chemo. I keep in close contact with my doctor and really feel great. I think
that passing on the chemo was the right decision for me.
Paula, age 61: I was diagnosed with breast
cancer just last year. Thank goodness I have been having those mammograms. My
breast cancer was small, and I didn't have any cancer in the lymph nodes. I
stopped taking my menopause hormones, and my doctor suggested that I try a
medication called tamoxifen. I had a few hot flashes, but nothing bad. I feel
really good and continue to see my doctor for checkups. I will take the
tamoxifen for 2 years and then take something else. Who knows what will be on
the market by then?
Kathe Gallagher, MSW
Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer
Joy Melnikow, MD, MPH - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
August 31, 2007
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 31, 2007
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