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How about women over 70

when do you call it quits? When does quality trump quantity

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  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,631

    ohionana,

    That is a question that we can only decide for ourselves. How much tough tx can you deal with? How willing are you to put your QOL on the back burner and for how long? There are many more questions we can ask ourselves but each of us will have different answers.

    I'm sorry I can't offer any valuable insights or sage advice. I am not close to that point but I know I will have to ask myself those questions one day. Take care.

    PS: Although your age certainly is a factor to consider, I think QOL may outweigh other considerations.

  • veronicapoland2
    veronicapoland2 Member Posts: 12

    Hi. I just found this post. I'm not sure what people are discussing but I would like to be a part of it. I am 72 years old. Was dx with breast cancer at 65. Had a double mastectomy and chemo. I received textured implants which have since been recalled. I am currently deciding whether to replace them. I have an appt. with the PS Fri. and surgery scheduled for later in Sept. I go back and forth with my decision whether to wait until they are more problematic or replace textured for smooth. Many people seem to opt for smooth with fat grafting which I am not in favor of. At my age they don't have to be Playboy magazine perfect, just acceptible under clothes. I'd appreciate any over 70 experiences.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,989

    Nana - I just turned 77. Quality is the ONLY issue for me. I've signed DNRs and willed my body to the medical school - but I'm not ready to toss in the towel yet.

    I made it a point after my BMX in 2011 and then recurrence in 2013 to get moving. Yes - even with mild LE and neuropathy in feet & fingers. I joined Sliver Sneakers - a great work out & Medicare usually pays for the classes. I joined a chair Yoga class & learned mindful meditation techniques. I took water aerobics classes in the summer - great low impact exercise. I planned several trips to see old friends in different parts of the country. And once COVID hit - I decided to start walking every day. 18 months later, I'm up to 6 miles a day. My bones are thanking me and I sleep better. And I do believe my mental outlook has improved.

    That said - exbrn has a great point. We all have to determine how much we are willing to 'stand'. I agree with her that 'QOL outweighs everything else'. But what quality means is a very personal decision. I'll probably keep going as long as my eyes work to read. That decision would no doubt be modified by pain, but fortunately I don't have much of that right now.

    You didn't share your diagnosis & treatment so it's hard to know where you're coming from. Please do add that at 'my profile' if you're comfortable sharing.

  • Lee64
    Lee64 Member Posts: 113

    Hi, MinusTwo - Wow, I really admire your ambition and energy. I am 76 and some days have very low energy, especially at the end of my Ibrance cycle. I do try to keep moving and am thankful I still find things I can do. Walking far is out of the question because of spine mets. I do fine around the house but use a walker to do shopping. Can you tell me how to edit my diagnosis and treatment? I can't figure it out!

    Hi, veronicapoland2 - I was diagnosed Stage II in 2010 at age 64 and Stage IV in 2019. I had a left mastectomy and implant in 1965 but it had to be removed a few weeks later because of infection, so I decided to get mastectomy bras and use the silicone falsie. It has worked well and the advantage is I'm not lopsided when I have had significant weight gain or loss. I wish you luck with whatever you decide to do; fat grafting doesn't sound pleasant to me.

    ohionana, I hope we hear from you again. It's nice to have ladies our age talk; I think we have different concerns and experiences.



  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,989

    Lee - I'm not great with computer programs, but... go to the little figure on the top right (the one you use to sign out), click the down arrow & choose "my profile". If I remember, I just put notes in 'comments' & didn't use the pre-set boxes.

    I figure any movement is good and you're so smart to use a walker. My nightmare is falling. With my 'dead' feet that means I have to watch every step. Sigh... I recently had grab bars installed in tub/shower & feel much more secure. As my friends & I remind one another frequently - we're not 25 anymore.

  • cowgirl13
    cowgirl13 Member Posts: 765

    So glad to see this thread. I turned 75 in May and don't know a whole lot of people over 70. Several good friends are, fortunately. I had a lumpectomy in 2009 and consider myself fortunate to be in good health. Something could come down the line but I'd just as soon not know until it happens. When Covid started, after about 10 days of staying home, I started walking about 2 miles a day and just love it. I live in San Francisco and it was so awesome to just walk anywhere what with all the tourists gone and everyone staying home. It was just incredible. Just wanted to say hi...I'm kind of quiet today but the next 10 days will be pretty filled as I have a petsitting job taking care of 2 cats that I just love and an older, sweet dog I have been taking care of them for going on now 6 years. Love the clients and really like relaxing in their house and not thinking about what I should be doing at home. Have a good weekend everyone.

  • spookiesmom
    spookiesmom Member Posts: 8,148

    I’ll be 73 in November. I do what I want, when I want. My DH passed last spring, if I feel like cleaning his stuff out, I do. No big hurry there. I got a kitten a few months ago, am content to watch the 2 dogs play with him. I lead a boring life

  • Lee64
    Lee64 Member Posts: 113

    MinusTwo - Thanks for the info on how to edit my diagnosis and treatment; I'll give it another try! You mention "dead feet", do you have neuropathy? I have it in my left hand and fingers, somedays worse than others. Glad you had grab bars installed, better safe than sorry.

    Cowgirl13 - It's nice that you enjoy walking; it's such good exercise if you can do it. My son is in San Francisco on vacation this week and has sent some wonderful pictures. I'm sure a lot of people in a lot of places are glad when the tourist season is over! Enjoy your babysitting job with the fur babies; I'm sure they're glad to see you come, someone familiar.

    Spookiesmom - Nice to see you posting here. Your life can't be too boring with a new kitten and 2 dogs! I bet they keep you busy, animals are so fun.

    OhioNana1605 - We're waiting to hear from you. I hope you are doing okay.

  • ohionana1605
    ohionana1605 Member Posts: 65

    Minus Two

    Wow good for you. You are an inspiration. I like to walk but was too fatigued during chemo but now that I 'm on a chemo break have started again tho slowly. Now that temps have cooled will try twice a day around my neighborhood. Don't know what's ahead but my faith is strong. I pray for strength and guidance. My best wishes to all on this journey.
    Be

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,989

    Nana - Even though I'm not a "morning person", I try to walk early when temperatures have dropped down to the 80s. TOO hot & humid otherwise.

    Oh cowgirl - to be walking San Francisco!! I like walking the streets but also love the trail from the (old) Cliff House to the bridge. I haven't been out since August 2019.

    Lee - yes I have CIPN (chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy). Very little feeling in my feet and lack of dexterity in my fingers. Fortunately it's improved enough that I can zip up my pants and I don't have the pain that can be associated with this. Unfortunately I also have mild breast & truncal lymphadema & I'm trying to be proactive so it won't spread to my arms.

    Spookie - sorry about your DH. YES - I love your prescription - do what you want, when you want. It will all be there tomorrow anyway. Boring is great. That said, I think I'll take a 10am nap over my morning paper.

  • racheldog
    racheldog Member Posts: 209

    Cowgirl13...nice to see your post and so glad I found this thread. I live right across the Bay from you. We have a similar path and you give me hope that I will stay clear in the years to come.

    There is another Older thread forum but I quit that one since they completely got off the track of the original intention of the thread and it seems to have become a coffee clatch club and not an exchange of medical experiences. Works for them but not what I was looking for.

    I am 69 but I already feel like I am ready to jump into this over 70 group. I feel like I have been the poster child for SEs with each modality I went through. I am certainly no wimp. Kadcyla was awful for me and had to quit after 4 cycles instead of 8 that was planned. Whole breast radiation was done but no real picnic either, with radiation burns that did eventually heal. Made me sorry that i did not really re-think mastectomy. Now I am into my 3rd Herceptin only monotherapy, not fun either.

    One year ago I was active, still working an active job, taking care of myself and my dogs and my house and yard and living alone. The way I have felt so far is this journey has been challenging and most definitely my QOL is more important. I have DNRs as well and willed my body to a medical school too. Did this way before my diagnosis because I believe that way.

    I would be curious as to how many of you "older" gals like myself tolerated treatments and decided to stop on your own terms. Yes, a risk but....


  • cowgirl13
    cowgirl13 Member Posts: 765

    Racheldog, the one thing I would do differently if I had it to do over again, would be to have them run the Herceptin only drip for 90 minutes. It was run at 60 for me, and I think I probably would have felt much better if it had been run at 90 minutes. SpecialK is the person who has shared how much running the drip for 90 minutes really helped with side effects. She had treatment about a year after I did.

    You know I always tell people that chemo is doable and the truth is that there was no way I could have worked then. I took a medical leave and then after about 6 months they canned me (yes, Wells Fargo does what they want but looking back I needed to leave that job as it was eating me up and I was completely stressed out). Anyway, the point being that I was not one of those who could also work and do all the treatments at the same time. I will say however, that I am in really good health and have the energy to do things I want to do and I turned 75 this year.

    You have plenty of time, although it might not seem so, to recover from all the treatments as you are still receiving Herceptin, which, although they say there aren't any side effects from Herceptin only, that was not my experience. Where are you receiving treatment?



  • faroutstar
    faroutstar Member Posts: 6

    OhioNana,

    Thank you for posting this. My mom has fought with this herself and I will show her these posts and the positivity here. She really could use this. She is 75 and was diagnosed in June with liver mets from her original Stage IIIB diagnosis. She had a lumpectomy in 2007 and some lymph nodes removed I think 9 or 8 I cannot recall, Chemo/Radiation for quite a while and up until her diagnosis in June she was on Admidex and cancer "free"? Not sure how correct that term is. This was pretty out of left field as she sees her oncologist yearly and her bloodwork/exam went well. No sign of anything. Nothing. As Minus said - QOL is number one for her too. She at first worried about the time to be honest. Then she understood she would rather feel good with the time she does have left, that she wanted to keep working and such. I am really sorry this is a post you even had to post. I will keep you in my thoughts and am sending love from NC. :)

    MinusTwo,

    77 and 6 miles a DAY! Your post brought me so much ease to my worries for her. Seeing women her age being so active while fighting is just so amazing. Your QOL life comment was hard for my mom to get to at first. She worried more about time. Things happened so quickly and such it was just an awful lot to process as I am sure you all know. My mom sleeps an awful lot when she is not at work. She eats ok, but I feel I have to initiate it by ordering food or cooking for her at times. I notice things and she does NOT share any side effects, symptoms or anything. She wants everyone to think she is just fine.. But she has been having pain and told me late last night. It is controlled with some meds they gave her though she said.


    All.

    I hope everyone keeps this threat up, and like Racheldog said - the other post got waaaaaay off track. I tried my best to find info to show my mom but did not have much luck. I hope this one stays on track. You all are so helpful and she will love to see this.


    I have put her diagnosis and such in my description and her treatment - I am not seeing it though when I preview or post so I am not sure if that it is just not showing me or what lol.

    So like Rachel said...she decided to not do Chemo and go with a more tolerated option with Ibrance/Faslodex. Her oncologist really did not want to go with Chemo in the first place and wanted to go with it as a last resort but she was allowed to choose her treatment plans after he gave her all the info on both etc. My mom has been in decent health for the most part and is sharp as a dag on tack.


    Is anyone here on Ibrance? If so, for how long have you taken it? How have you done with it? My mom on her off week from it seems to feel a bit lost without it. She said she felt like an addict, but she knew it was helping her feel better along with the Faslodex.

    I hope you ladies do not mind me tagging along on this post. I research, read a lot as I have become fairly addicted to learning as much as I can. Seeing how others have done with similar diagnosis etc. The last couple of months since her diagnosis I had been just trying to find something like this post and I hope my mom does as well as you ladies are. She has been so up and down with her emotions and throws me off at times with things she says..so I have just tried to find her positivity during this time. She hears/feels enough negativity about things she needs some good with the bad.


    Thank you all for being so inspiring. I cannot wait to show her this thread. I appreciate it.

  • Lee64
    Lee64 Member Posts: 113

    Faroutstar - It is nice that you are trying to help your mom. Her Stage IV diagnosis is still "new" to her and it takes awhile to accept. My Stage IV was such a shock to me too and I thought I was only months away from dying. I'm almost 2 years in now and take one day at a time. I am on Ibrance 75 mg. and I get fasoldex shots every month and a CT scan every 3 months. I have had almost no side effects from either medication, just hair thinning and fatigue. I was also receiving Xgeva shot once a month but had to stop because I ended up with osteonecrosis of the jaw. There are a lot of things I can no longer do but I enjoy the things I can do and find something to be grateful for every day.

    Racheldog - Glad you found us! I'm sorry about all the SE's you've had with treatments. We never know how our body will react. A lot of women try different doses and drugs to find one they can tolerate. I agree that QOL is very important and that is such an individual decision.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,989

    FarOut - yes, welcome.

    CowGirl - I could not have worked either. I actually lost 60 lbs during TCHP - & it was weight I didn't need to lose. And I have to admit, I did not really walk or exercise when I was in active treatment. I've since read you feel better if you do. I could have at least done Silver Sneakers or Chair Yoga (maybe)

    Herceptin for 90 minutes YAYYYYY. The nurses might fight back but I insisted & it made all the difference for me following Special K's advice. I also insisted on a full bag of saline each time. And after the first two treatments, I often went in the middle of the 3 weeks between for extra hydration. An infusion of just saline made me feel 100% better


  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,989

    To be fair - the other "older ladies" thread is mostly people who have finished treatment and are trying to get on with their lives. That is not easy and it helps to talk with women who have been through some of the same issues so they understand the problems.

    When I was in active treatment, I choose the current chemo thread, a HER2+ thread, what to expect from chemo (or surgery) thread and reconstruction threads. I didn't participate in any of the chat threads. Now I sort of join in a couple of 'chat' threads occasionally and cancer is sometimes discussed - but not often. Everyone still gets "scanxiety" when it comes time for more tests, but most people are trying not to dwell on cancer. But there is a common background & people do understand you're not nuts & tell you to just got on with your life. I also delve into some Stage IV threads (just to read since I respect their requests - since who knows what tomorrow will bring.

  • EauClaire
    EauClaire Member Posts: 7

    Hello to all the very brave women posting here.  Many of  you have  and are put(ting) up with a lot. I admire you so much. I'm 70, had a small tumor discovered in March, lumpectomy showed 1 lymph node affected; 16 days radiation, been on Tamoxifen 2 1/2 months.  For past 3 weeks have noticed pain in left hip joint  and femur.  I notice "bone pain" is a side effect listed. But my oncologist doesn't think it's due to T. I do because I've never had pain there before. I have trouble putting weight on that leg going up stairs, and mild pain while walking. Hiking uphill might be impossible, based on when I tried a week ago. Went about 2 miles and the pain was too much.  Nsaids don't seem to work. Anyone have this kind of pain and any remedy for it? Other SEs are tolerable: constipation, minor pelvic cramping, lower leg cramps. Of course I worry about blood clots and strokes because I've witnessed strokes in my family. I suppose I could try an AI, but the warnings about joint pain are pretty scary, and they can also cause heart problems.  So I'll probably continue with tamoxifen.  

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,989

    EauClaire - when you get a minute, go to my profile and enter your diagnosis & treatment plan. IT makes it easier for us to answer.

  • ohionana1605
    ohionana1605 Member Posts: 65

    dear Faroutstar, I am sorry to hear about your mom. She still works? That’s amazing. I retired at 62. Where are you in NC? I lived in High Point almost 20 years but moved back to Ohio 8 years ago to be near our daughter after my first dx and now I see why God brought us here. My liver Mets were out of the blue too. Shocked.

    I’m feeling a little down today. Just tired of no taste and forcing myself to eat and of being so isolated. I’m interested in learning more about rate of Herceptin drip. Mine is usually the 60 min.

    Thanks all. Let’*s make it a good day. Be

  • cowgirl13
    cowgirl13 Member Posts: 765

    Minus, it really helps to hear from another person that they could not have worked through chemo. I sometimes feel like a 'loser' when I read how some people were able to keep up pretty much with their lives. But I will say again, even though I didn't know it at the time, I really needed to take a break from my everyday life.

    How did you find out about running a full bag of saline each time and then going in mid cycle for another drip of saline. Where were you treated?

  • racheldog
    racheldog Member Posts: 209

    I am having my infusions over 2 hours total, with that included is a bolus of saline. This is all at my request and they have no problem doing that. I am only on Herceptin now and despite the "herceptin side effects are nothing" I am not agreeing. Not incapacitating but certainly not feeling normal. In fact I get tired of MO's not recognizing or saying they have never heard of some side effects we experience.

    It has been my position and belief from the beginning of this "journey" that younger women tolerate all these treatments far better. I know 40-50+ year olds who have seemed to push their way through harsher treatments and still work. And run around and do things. Granted, I feel totally fortunate that I was diagnosed at an older age as the younger patients really have a big ?? on their lives and choices for treatment, often with more aggressive diagnoses.

    I was contemplating retirement at 68 but would have kept working if this diagnosis. This pushed me out the door on my own. I feel like a different person from a year ago when I started treatment. The lumpectomy and port were easy-peasy. You cannot throw poisons into a body and not affect change. The way I feel now is way more fragile and I hope this turns around when done. Again, I want my life back based on QOL, especially living alone with a house to take care of and large dogs. I am trying to get more exercise in. Never had but one primary care doc appointment a year before all this started. Now I am with far too many!

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,372

    Hello all. I'm getting close to 70 and happy to see this thread focused around medical/cancer topics and not so much a coffee klatsch. I've been in treatment since February 2021 and am 3 weeks out from a single mastectomy. I also was healthy and strong prior to my cancer treatment and I spend a lot of time wondering where the hell my life went... of course I know that is pointless but I "go there" nonetheless.

    I will be having radiation soon and don't even have words for how much I dread it. After 16 rounds of harsh chemo and a mastectomy, I'm so ready to be done with this horror.

    Nice to meet you all and I hope we can keep this thread going for others who come here looking for age-related treatment information.

  • spookiesmom
    spookiesmom Member Posts: 8,148

    I’ve had to do rads twice. The worst of it is Going.Every.Day. That gets old quick. Once mapping is done, the actual zap doesn’t take long at all.

    My RO said to use aquaphor calendula and aloe. This was the second time, aquaphor is sooooo greasy I didn’t. Used the other stuff, no problem. First time, my skin broke. What a mess.

    Each one has their own preferences for products.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,989

    LW - I found rads really easy compared to chemo - except for the every day travel part. Although the zap was just a few minutes, it took most of the morning driving there & back (ah.. Houston).. The zap was actually shorter than getting changed into the gown. Just lots of fatigue so I treated myself to frequent naps.

    Spookie's - my RO also said aquaphor. I used Miaderm that I ordered on line.

    Cowgirl - I had a fabulous MO (who has since retired) who said I was getting too dehydrated. He confirmed by my skin & eyes in addition to blood work & I could not manage to increase my oral liquid intake. I did go back to work three months after my initial BMX at 67 - but there was no other treatment involved that time. After the recurrence two years later, I didn't even consider working.

    I chose my docs individually based on the oncologist & my GYN. Even though I didn't need chemo the first time, I trusted their advice. So while they all knew each other & worked together, they were at different facilities. Baylor for oncology, Houston Methodist for surgery & reconstruction, and MD Anderson for rads.


  • magiclight
    magiclight Member Posts: 6,656

    To all the women and men over 70 navigating the daunting medical landscape that houses breast cancer diagnostics and treatment, I honor you all even more so with a raging pandemic magnifying glitches in our disease care system. I had bilateral breast cancer, double mastectomy and still have PMPS. I wish you all the very best that that system has to offer and that bc.org members share with you. There is so much information here that I wish I knew about prior to my surgery. Take advantage of all the threads, harvest what you need/want and ignore the rest for now. Years later you might be ready for the social aspects of this site that currently may seem trivial. Yet, sometimes our brains need a break from the existential present and a word game or cocktail recipe might be needed.

  • Lee64
    Lee64 Member Posts: 113

    I had 34 radiation treatments (after a mastectomy and 16 rounds of ACT chemo). I found radiation the hardest. By the last week I was going to the nurse who wrapped my chest with "burn" bandages; my skin just dissolved! Now I have lung scarring and my MO ordered a PET scan because CTs aren't definitive enough to determine if one are is radiation scarring or cancer. I'm still waiting for it to be scheduled and not looking forward to it.

    LW422 - I also sometimes wonder where the hell my life went! These are supposed to be our years to enjoy life after working hard for years to get here. Sometimes I can't even remember what life was like before cancer.

  • racheldog
    racheldog Member Posts: 209

    LW422---after I did the Kadcyla I was supposed to go right into the Herceptin. I was so spooked about the (rare percentage) lung issues that occurred on Kadcyla I decided to heal for about a month on my own without taking a steroids. The Pulmonologist was fine with that. I did recover, thank goodness. I have absolutely no history of lung problems, no asthma , no allergies and a lifetime non-smoker. So there you go. Out of the blue. Some of these newer agents have black box warnings and again, older patients may have a rougher time.

    So I went out of sequence and did radiation in between. Four weeks with the last week being "boost." Yeah, the daily trips were crappy but luckily not far for me and I had a good RO. I ended up, though, with some radiation burns under the breast that took a while to heal. Two months out now I still lather the breast before bed with creams and oils. I found the Calendula based creams and oils worked the best. Lots of good choices online. Aquafor was greasy and awful.

    Now doing Herceptin monotherapy. Trying to hydrate all day long to flush this infusion out of my system before the next one. And yes, I get down as well on some days because I had a whole different retirement planned.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,372

    Thanks, everyone. I meet with the RO on the 23rd so I'll know more about what's in store for me after then. Right now I'm down because the mastectomy was so much worse than I expected; I'm having a lot of weird tight feelings, numbness, cording in my armpit, and nerve pain in the back of my upper arm. I'm thinking this crap won't be resolved when I start radiation, so how much worse am I going to feel?? I haven't felt "normal" since I started chemo last February 9 and it is really dragging me down.

    Honestly, I just thought my remaining years would be fairly good ones; little did I know.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,989

    LW - I would recommend an assessment with a lymphadema PT before rads. And maybe some initial work on the cording & manual lymph drainage instruction. Oh wait - didn't you post somewhere that you went to a PT and hated 'him'? Hope that wasn't an LEPT and hope you can find someone closer to home for that.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,372

    Yes, I saw a PT at MDA but I have no idea whether she was an LEPT. I think it was more for after-surgery ROM exercises. I had measurements and LE assessment before surgery by the plastic surgeon's staff. Since I had the lymphovenous bypass surgery they are tracking my progress.