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Forgo chemo because of existing health issues?

trv4764 Member Posts: 22

I had my second appt. with my oncologist today. During my first appt. he recommended the AC-T cocktail. Even though I'm terrified, I was pretty much prepared to tell him today that I was going to go ahead with that and schedule my first round. I told him that I don't know how I'm going to get through chemo though due to my existing health conditions, and how I already feel horrible all of the time. And then to add chemo side effects on top of that... He sympathized and then offered another option which would be to skip chemo and go straight to the anti-estrogen and aromatase inhibitor pills - I would be on them for 10 years and then Verzenio for 2 years. He added that if I don't do chemo now, I can't decide in a year, after taking the pills that I want to start chemo. He initially didn't think we needed to know what my oncotype score was since I'm 48/pre-menopausal and my other factors determined that chemo was the best option. I'm so confused now about what to do, so we are going to go ahead and get my onco score to see if that might help to make my decision. Anyone have any insight or experience with any of this?


  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769

    Hi Trv4764!

    I had (still have) a slew of health issues prior to my diagnosis and I was worried about the same thing, feeling worse on top of already feeling bad. In all honesty, and this is just me, the AC&T seemed to make those symptoms a bit more manageable. I wasn't terribly sick from the chemo, but had my moments. I'm glad I did it. Once the chemo was out of my system things came back as they did before, but for me it was the knowing that I did everything I could to eliminate the beast.

    I'm also Triple Negative so I don't have experience with AI's. I hope someone else posts that can help you with that question.

    Best wishes to you.

  • trv4764
    trv4764 Member Posts: 22

    serendipity09 that gives me some hope, because I am definitely leaning towards going ahead with chemo. I just wish I could get some personal stories or insight regarding AI's if someone had been given both options and decided to go with AI's. I think the scariest thing that my oncologist told me is that you can't stop taking the AI's a year from now to start chemo if you change your mind. I forget what his reasoning was, but the fact that chemo will be off the table if I don't do it now, makes me think I should just suck it up.

  • ruthbru
    ruthbru Member Posts: 47,038

    Chemo is strange. There is no way to predict how your body will handle it. Some people feel pretty good all the way through irregardless of their overall health and some have problems no matter what their health was going in. Since you have a positive node, I would try it. If it gets too much, you can quit; but you may be surprised to find that it is not too bad. One of the reasons I wouldn't skip chemo and go straight to AIs is that some people have a lot of negative side effects from them too. If you find you can't tolerate Als, you could feel better about stopping them if you can done chemo. If you find you can tolerate chemo and AIs both, you will be double covered.....which is a very good thing.

  • elainetherese
    elainetherese Member Posts: 1,627

    I did AC + T (+Herceptin & Perjeta -- targeted therapies for HER2+ cancer). Since my cancer was HER2+ chemo was a no-brainer. (It's very aggressive.) Ruthbru is right that there's no way to predict how your body will respond to chemo. For me, I worked through chemo and it wasn't that bad. Others, however, struggle much more and even end up hospitalized.

    I am currently doing Year 7 of an AI + Zoladex (was premenopausal). It's OK, though I'm now on medication for moodiness (Celexa) and osteoporosis (Prolia) because those were side-effects that were interfering with my quality of life.

    Both chemo and the AIs have their problems, but chemo is over more quickly (5 months) than the AI (I'm on the ten year plan). Good luck, making your decision!