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Has anyone quit chemo in the middle of treatment?

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karabesque
karabesque Member Posts: 37
edited August 2015 in Alternative Medicine

I have done 4 AC and now 2 of 12 Taxol treatments. I have to miss this week because I have strep and they are being careful. This "break" makes me just want to quit and move on with my life and deal with this myself. When I was diagnosed, all of my tests and scans came back clean except for the huge tumor in my left breast. I opted to have a bi-lateral mastectomy for prevention and also, cosmetically. When the lymph nodes were biopsied, 14 of 21 were cancerous. So, I woke to some really bad news: chemo and rads were put on the menu. I have already decided to refuse radiation. Now, I am considering quitting chemo and would love to hear your story. Thanks!

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Comments

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited July 2015
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    I never have been a fan of traditional chemo. Have you explored any other treatments?

  • karabesque
    karabesque Member Posts: 37
    edited July 2015
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    Meow13- the docs gave me 3 months to try and shrink the tumor before I did surgery. I saw a natropath that did light therapy, color therapy, diet restrictions and supplements. I also started MMJ and RSO. After the 3 months was up the tumor did shrink but not enough. Then, it had spread to the lymph nodes. I am currently doing acupuncture weekly and still take supplements. My diet is barely there and so not that good. In my heart, I feel like all of the cancer is gone and if the docs say that chemo and rads are just sweeping up with could have gotten away, I think it's unneccesary. But because I am a mom and have people that need me, I have conceded.

  • SweetHope
    SweetHope Member Posts: 74
    edited July 2015
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    • Everyone questions continuing chemo. Everyone questions submitting to Rads. But we do it for our lives and our family. No treatment is as bad as dying of cancer.
    • Fourteen out of twenty-one positive nodes is very serious. That is fourteen paths from the tumor to those nodes that cancer cells could be lurking. That is why Radiation is so important.
    • You have gone so far with Chemo, please finish it.
    • Consider this the year that you save your own life. Get support on these boards. Rant, cry, share this crappy experience with those that understand. But for God's sake, please listen to your MO and RO and do all you can to have a great future.
  • rozem
    rozem Member Posts: 749
    edited July 2015
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    The chance that something got away, unfortunately, in your case is high due to the number of positive nodes. I don't mean to say this to scare you but just so you know the facts. The alternative methods failed to keep the cancer and check and you said your tumor did not respond and in fact it's spread to your lymph nodes during that time. If there is something that escaped your breasts the alternative treatments again will not make a difference. Chemo is absolutely not a guarantee but it's the best thing that medical science has at the moment. chemo and do the radiation

  • abigail48
    abigail48 Member Posts: 337
    edited July 2015
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    I don't think this is alternative information

  • spookiesmom
    spookiesmom Member Posts: 8,178
    edited July 2015
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    I did, but not by my choice. I had a severe allergic reaction to Taxotere after 4 a/c. I wish I had been able to continue. I did 32 rads, still NED.

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845
    edited July 2015
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    Wrenn, I appreciate your experience, and I am happy you are well. But the difference between stage 1A and stage 3C is rather significant.

  • Leighrh
    Leighrh Member Posts: 102
    edited July 2015
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    Kara, I have been where you are, after AC I wanted to quit, I even asked MO why 12 Taxols and it seemed like sooooooo much! This is what he told me.... Take it week by week, see how it goes, if you want to quit you can. I have had 7 of 12, haven't quit yet. It is more mentally challenging to me because I just want my life back. Take this week with your strep to rest, I am sure that you are really overwhelmed with being sick and having SEs of Taxol. Maybe next week you will feel differently, maybe not...... I had 1 of 3 lymph nodes with cancer and it too devastated me. I have 2 boys 8 and 10 who deserve for me to fight this with all that I got. But I do understand wanting to quit!!!!

  • karabesque
    karabesque Member Posts: 37
    edited July 2015
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    Thank you all for your advice and sharing of experiences.

    Wrenn- Thank you for your gentle and wise words.

    Sweet Hope- thanks for those facts.

    I just wish I had a majik something that could fast forward time and make me healthy and "normal" again. I know we all do..

  • princesstina
    princesstina Member Posts: 129
    edited July 2015
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    I got a week off after taxol #4 (we went on vacation) and oh I understand the temptation to not ever get back in that chair. But the impression I get from my surgeon and MO are that once it hits your lymphatic system, you need to do all you can-my surgeon re-iterated this to me as I tried to reason my way out of rads this morning (ha, it didn't work). I want to be around for years and years - I have 3 small children as well - the taxol is not that bad and I bet in a couple of days you feel so much better!

  • gkodad
    gkodad Member Posts: 8
    edited July 2015
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    Ask your oncologist to show you your "numbers" - what are the benefits vs. the risks? Taxol has greater benefit for some tumor types than others. Your post doesn't really state if you are ER+ or negative, Herceptin positive, etc. For some tumor types, Taxol has great benefit, for others, not so much. So make a decision from a knowledge base.

    I had to stop dose dense Taxol after 2 treatments from side effects, but I began it knowing it would add little to my "numbers". I just figured every little bit might help, but the knowledge also helped me when I had to stop because I knew it was the least effective part of my treatment. That's me - it might be the most effective part of your treatment. I will be doing radiation because it does help reduce local recurrence especially for high risk people like us. Again - look at the numbers and use them to make your decisions.

  • mkinoly
    mkinoly Member Posts: 11
    edited August 2015
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    This isn't going to be popular, but if you feel you want to stop chemo, you should stop, IMO. Chemo is not a cure and there are so many studies pointing to chemo and radiation causing more cancers and ultimately doing more harm than good. Tear down your immune system and cause cellular mutations while you're trying to overcome cancer? Then try to deal with the side effects that keep you from truly taking care of yourself because you're too tired or feel bad? Never made sense to me.

    Surgery has removed the cancer load. If there are rogue cells circulating in your body, there are health-giving, life-sustaining options for keeping them in check. Every person on Earth has cancer cells circulating in their body all the time, but normally our systems get rid of those cells and they don't become malignant tumors. We developed tumors partly because they had an opportunity to develop. There are lots of things we can do to try and prevent another tumor from forming. You mentioned some things you tried, the tumor shrank some, and you said your diet is not that good. If you don't want chemo and radiation, then the alternative is hard-core nutrition and health. Doing some things is great and helped you (tumor shrank and who knows how many more nodes it could have been). If you choose, you can do much, much more to improve your diet and health and give your body a fighting chance. And feel good and live a full life along the way.

    I'm not trying to convince you to go either route, but I'm offering support for the possibility of following what you believe is best. This is the Alternative Medicine forum and aside from Wrenn nobody seems very familiar with or supportive of alternative medicine at all. I wouldn't post this on a Chemo forum, so it seems odd that chemo-supporters are posting on here. I truly wish more women who believe in alt med would post and we could be more supportive and helpful to each other.



  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363
    edited August 2015
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    I believe immunotherapy is the way to go. But I don't know much about treatment that get our own defenses working against our cancer cells. I want to see a break away from conventional treatment because it has not proven to be a cure. For some it may buy more time but when you are diagnosed with BC you want a real cure.

  • rebzamy
    rebzamy Member Posts: 49
    edited August 2015
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    I cannot tell you how relieved I was to start chemo and to actually feel the 5cm lump shrinking literally before my eyes. The shrinking happened quite quickly and by the time I had surgery to remove the lump and my lymph nodes (one huge lump in my lymph nodes) several of which were affected, I could barely feel anything. The treatment was horrible and hard and I had various hospital stays but wouldn't have changed anything. My team were so reassuring that this was the best treatment. I got 7mm clearance at surgery (shows how big the lump was as also had widespread DCIS) and then radiotherapy and herceptin. At one point there was worry that there was something on my liver but it turned out to be a collection of blood vessels so that was such a relief. You can't mess with cancer, I've heard a few stories of people stopping treatment or not having treatment and they've regretted it. With you having grade 3 cancer, in your lymph nodes with so many affected, I wouldn't mess with this and would 100% go on to have the treatment. You'll never know what may or may not have occurred with/without it but right now, you're being given the best there is. I know you feel awful and so did I, but I never ever considered not doing it for the time I spent feeling not good. Good luck with whatever you decide to do and please remember that everybody is different and most people on here are not medical experts when reading their opinions/views.

  • abigail48
    abigail48 Member Posts: 337
    edited August 2015
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    this is not alternative information. quite the opposite. you don't say how old you are or were n hhou began the chemical infusions, but some of is are quite old, I for instance turned 78 last may & I doubt very much I;ll regret not having such treatments. we'll see I guess, meanwhile this is not alternative information & does not answer the question proposed

  • motheroffoursons
    motheroffoursons Member Posts: 80
    edited August 2015
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    Abigal, the topic says to discuss alternative treatments, not only to promote them. These ladies are relating their own experiences and how they felt about quitting regular treatment. They are valid responses and they answer the question according to their own experiences.

  • abigail48
    abigail48 Member Posts: 337
    edited August 2015
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    the last poster mentioned some hearsay women.

  • dtad
    dtad Member Posts: 771
    edited August 2015
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    I think the key factor is whether or not you are hormone positive and taking hormone blockers. At least that would be a treatment thats very effective. Good luck

  • abigail48
    abigail48 Member Posts: 337
    edited August 2015
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    effective & what are the other effects if you please?

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845
    edited August 2015
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    RebzAmy, that was similar to my experience, except I had a fairly easy time of the chemo, no neutropenia, no hospital stays, just some fatigue, mild thrush etc.

  • elainetherese
    elainetherese Member Posts: 1,628
    edited August 2015
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    Hi!

    I was diagnosed with Stage IIIa cancer, 5 cm.+ tumor and one compromised lymph node. As my signature suggests, I followed the conventional path (chemo, surgery, rads, hormonal therapy). I was fortunate and had an easy time with chemo and rads. Furthermore, I have not developed lymphedema (yet!) despite having 20 lymph nodes removed. I'm also having an easy time of hormonal therapy, Aromasin, which can cause joint pain and all.

    Nevertheless, I am sympathetic to those who follow alternative approaches to cancer treatment, especially for Stage 0 (e.g., DCIS) and Stage 1. Many cancer doctors suspect that very early stage cancers are overtreated and that many of these cancers are unlikely to evolve into metastatic cancer. However, they cannot be sure which very early stage cancers will or will not progress. So, cancer doctors usually recommend surgery, rads, hormonal therapy, and the like for Stage 0 and Stage 1 patients. Such patients, in my opinion, have a good reason to weigh the benefits of such treatment against its cost. Many will opt for conventional treatment, but opting out and trying other approaches is also valid, to me.

    But, here I am at Stage III. My cancer was Grade 3, and HER2+. It was "growing like kudzu in the lab!" my oncologist told me. Going alternative in my case wouldn't have made much sense. So, I never considered quitting chemo. Best wishes to you!

  • rozem
    rozem Member Posts: 749
    edited August 2015
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    Mkinoly. Statements like "chemo is not a cure" should not be thrown out there without some facts. Does chemo cure all BC cases, of course not. I know in my case if you look at my numbers ( women diagnosed with the exact cancer as me) without treatment 60% would be alive and cancer free in 5 years with treatment ( chemo rads herceptin and hormone tx) 80%+ would be alive and cancer free in 5 years. The difference are people who are cured or remain NED after treatment. Every case is different but the facts remain that chemo does work in some cases. Yes many early stage cancers are over treated and could possibly be cured by surgery alone but as you get higher in stage , grade or have an aggressive sub type this becomes less and less possible. Im going by years and years of scientific research and the numbers given to me

  • mkinoly
    mkinoly Member Posts: 11
    edited August 2015
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    rozem, chemo is not a cure, that is a fact! I think we all agree that after we've tackled the original cancer that we strive to remain NED and whenever someone says they're cured everyone poo-poos it as if it's not possible. So, chemo is not a cure, and neither is anything else as far as I've seen. It's about healing ourselves and giving our bodies the best chance to survive and thrive. To create a home where cancer is more unable to set up base and grow. A torn down immune system in someone that feels like crap is not the way to do that.

    There are lots of studies to be interpreted to support both sides of these theories. Any summary of any study can pretty much be torn apart if looked at from various angles, so we all choose which ones we trust and believe in. Everyone is unique and has to do what they believe will work for them, hopefully based on education and weighing alternatives, and not just doing what they're told or based on fear (I know that is very hard, and I have a battle on my hands with my oncologist, and I'm just as scared of making the "wrong" choice as anyone else). If a woman decides traditional treatment is best for her, of course I wish her the best outcome and the best life possible! Facing and dealing with cancer is Hell on Earth no matter what. And after treatment I wholeheartedly suggest they heal with nutrition and optimize their health to try and avoid recurrence. The original poster is weighing her alternatives and there ARE alternatives.

    My hope for those that reject alternative medicine is that they will look at the overall big picture. On one hand there is the cancer complex, huge and full of money, making very little progress over many years (more drugs, no closer to cure), making lots of people rich. Oncologists PROFIT from every chemo dose their patient receives--this is a huge conflict of interest and gives them great incentive to push patients towards chemo (keep in mind no other doctors profit from any other med, just oncs and chemo). On the other hand there is the alternative medicine arena where, what.... doctors profit off books they sell? Supplements? What incentive do alternative doctors have to push their beliefs of eating nutritiously and living a healthy lifestyle? Maybe they actually want to help people get better, feel better, live better. They have rejected traditional medicine even though they were taught the same curricula in school because they went on to study nutrition (nutrition education is lacking in med school because there's no money to be made off groceries) and believe in evidence they have that there is a better path.



  • Tomboy
    Tomboy Member Posts: 2,700
    edited August 2015
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    My doc drives a 20 year old toyota. I don't think he's rich. My pcp doesn't hesitate to prescribe exercise, humor, plenty of rest and water and good diet, and barely charges me anything. He drives a mercedes. I think they have both tried to help me.

  • Tomboy
    Tomboy Member Posts: 2,700
    edited August 2015
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    Karabesque, love your screen name! And wish you all the best with this very personal decision. I was so unhappy but knew that I must submit to all treatments. My lovely friend and neighbor, Lois, passed while I was in the middle of rads, She had become MBC a couple of years before, and I can still hear her voice: if you love your life, you must do EVERYTHING you can. Everything. And so I did, but I wasn't in love with it by a long shot. Not my life, the treatment.

  • abigail48
    abigail48 Member Posts: 337
    edited August 2015
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    once again age isn't mentioned. however I was 27 when the cyst appeared from the first use of mexican birth control pills. I continued to uuse for the next 10 years though the strength as with most pharms had systematically diminished. I expect if I'd had it drained something other than lymph would have resulted & it would have soon grown back. whay really horrifies me is the internet requests for 1000 shares or likes for what look like girls but no way to tell, with no hair anywheren but wonderful teeth. I expect what theyre celebrating is not the cure of their cancer but the ending of the infusions. Hair is a big part of health beauty warmpth. say it doesn't matter, it grows back, I doubt the same as it was & it does matter,

  • ksusan
    ksusan Member Posts: 461
    edited August 2015
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    Years ago, a dear friend who had a large, aggressive tumor had the opportunity to consult with the Dalai Lama's physician. After his examination, he said that she should do the hot, toxic, Western treatments (surgery, chemo, radiation) because anything he would suggest would not be sufficient against her cancer--however, he advocated for her use of complementary, cool, Eastern treatments to balance and harmonize her body after the allopathic treatments. She is now 18 years without recurrence. That said, this is an anecdote. There are probably too many variables for any of us to account for, but since each of us has to live with our decisions, I think we need to make the choices that will bring us the fewest regrets.

    I'm in radiation right now, and you can bet that in addition to the radiation, I'm exercising, doing MLD, staying hydrated, eating organic foods, moisturizing with calendula, meditating, visualizing, using post-hypnotic suggestion, taking melatonin, and living mindfully. I don't gain much statistical advantage by radiation, but I couldn't stand not doing it. I also couldn't stand not doing everything else I'm doing. It's going to be different for each of us.

  • Leighrh
    Leighrh Member Posts: 102
    edited August 2015
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    WOW!! Abigal...... I am not sure what you are trying to say and hopefully I have it confused because it sounds like you are sort of making fun of cancer patients with no hair! I assure you that because I chose chemo, not as a "CURE" but as a treatment so that I might have a better chance of sticking around to see my children's children. I do not believe there is a "cure" for BC either medically or alternatively.... just ways of keeping it at bay. I chose to go with Medical advice and will incorporate alternatives going forward. BUT..... I would never judge or insult anyone for the path they choose. I take this statement...." for what look like girls but no way to tell," as a HUGE insult. Because I have chosen a treatment that you don't agree with doesn't mean I am any less "a girl". Perhaps you should clarify, or please tell me that I am highly confused.

  • marylark
    marylark Member Posts: 159
    edited August 2015
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    Hi karabesque, I understand where you are. I just finished 12 weeks of Taxol and about to begin 4 biweekly A/C treatments. I am weary beyond words and hate facing the next round of treatment. However taxol did shrink my tumor almost 90% I don't know your situation but mine is ER+.PR+ Her2-, Stage 3, Grade 3. Not many choices with my diagnosis.

    Be good to yourself and put one foot in front of the other. Eventually this will be done even though it doesn't feel like it right now.

  • cp418
    cp418 Member Posts: 359
    edited August 2015
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    marylark - that is an incredible and wonderful response to your Taxol treatment! Best wishes and hugs to all who are going through these challenging regimens.