Topic: How do you know if treatment worked?

Forum: Share Your Experiences Of Life After A Breast Cancer Diagnosis —

Posted on: Jan 1, 2022 09:59AM - edited Jan 7, 2022 04:48AM by jeet

Posted on: Jan 1, 2022 09:59AM - edited Jan 7, 2022 04:48AM by jeet

jeet wrote:

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Jan 1, 2022 10:05AM mountainmia wrote:

You won't know. Your oncologist is correct. I'm sorry. You can't know if all the cancer cells are dead forever. The only way you will know is if you die from something else. I don't mean to be harsh, but that's really it.

The rain comes and the rain goes, but the mountain remains. I am the mountain.
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Jan 1, 2022 10:16AM exbrnxgrl wrote:

jeet,

Probably not what you wanted to hear on New Year’s Day but your doc and mountainmia are correct. There is simply no way to know if every bc cell has been killed off and no way to know if dormant bc cells aren’t sleeping somewhere in the body and will wake up some day. There are no blood tests either that will show bc cells. We keep going and assume the treatment has worked until we develop symptoms that indicate otherwise. Yes, that stinks but it is reality. All the pink fluff and “awareness “ campaigns tend to gloss over this

You certainly should seek a second opinion if you lack confidence in your current mo but if any mo tells you that they have a way of knowing with certainty that your treatment has been 100% successful run quickly as that is currently not possible.

Sadly, though you find it unacceptable, that is our current reality. I am sorry if you were unaware of that or if it’s a shock. We all want better but we’re not there yet. Take care.

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Jan 1, 2022 10:18AM - edited Jan 7, 2022 04:48AM by jeet

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Jan 1, 2022 10:35AM mountainmia wrote:

Well, treatment is all about risk reduction. That's what the chemo has done for you, it's reduced your risk of having a recurrence, both local but also with metastases. The radiation has reduced your risk specifically of a local recurrence, but of course that also reduces the risk that a local recurrence will lead to mets. So that's what you get. I don't know anything about your first surgery and whether the surgeon got good margins, whether you had radiation therapy, whether something went "wrong" or whether you were on the wrong end of the random-shitty-luck stick. I'm sorry, truly. But NOT having treatment certainly doesn't improve your odds.

The rain comes and the rain goes, but the mountain remains. I am the mountain.
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Jan 1, 2022 10:54AM spookiesmom wrote:

Agree you won’t know till you die Friday something else. Scan iety a lot of ladies here get it. But it’s better to know, than wonder IMO.

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Jan 1, 2022 11:19AM - edited Jan 1, 2022 11:27AM by exbrnxgrl

jeet,

Since your signature line is not public, we don't know the details of your bc. Overall, treatment for early stage bc “works" for the majority of patients. Roughly 70%, across all stages, do not recur. There is no cure for bc, just risk reduction as mountainmia stated, and for the majority of early stage patients life does go on with no recurrence.

Yes, there are scans but they can only detect bc when it has grown large enough to be picked up by the scan and that means it has already recurred. There is no scan that can pick up bc cells, no blood test nor anything else at present that can guarantee that your treatment has been completely effective.

Without knowing your particular situation, you may very well fall into the 70% that doesn't recur. If you do recur and choose not to treat, which is an option open to all bc patients, then you may be in for a rocky road. Breast cancer doesn't go away on its own. BTW, it is not a local recurrence that is terminal. It is metastatic bc to other body parts, typically bones, lungs, liver, or brain, that is terminal.

Again, I'm sorry that you were not aware of the realities of bc. I’m sorry you believed there was a cure or a way to definitely ascertain that your treatment was 100% effective. I only know of one member who refused treatment. She carried on for several painful years and then passed away. It was all far uglier than treatment, no matter how temporary, may have been. Untreated bc is far from a calm and peaceful process. It sure isn't fluffy and pink. Take care.

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Jan 1, 2022 11:25AM - edited Jan 1, 2022 12:38PM by parakeetsrule

This is one reason some women opt for mastectomies, especially after more than one cancer diagnosis. No more mammogram stress and it reduces the risk of the cancer returning. But mastectomies are not a guarantee either, and neither is a clear mammogram, unfortunately. Breast cancer is sneaky and it can recur in many other places. We all just have to learn to live with the risk and live well despite it. I never stopped worrying my cancer would come back but that didn't prevent me from having an awesome five years before it did! It would have been a huge waste if all I did was spend that time worrying instead of living.

You may want to seek out counseling to help you handle this if you feel like you can't get past it. ❤️

Stage 2 at 37, Stage 4 at 41. Cancer is dumb. Cookies are good. Dx 3/21/2017, IDC, Left, Grade 2, ER+/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 5/14/2017 AC + T (Taxol) Hormonal Therapy 12/8/2021 Faslodex (fulvestrant) Targeted Therapy 12/13/2021 Piqray (alpelisib) Dx IDC, Other, Stage IV, ER+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Lymph node removal (Left); Mastectomy (Left) Radiation Therapy Whole breast: Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Jan 1, 2022 11:32AM exbrnxgrl wrote:

parakeet,

Great post! It upsets me that the pretty pink bc machine has presented an overly rosy picture of what bc is. I agree with jeet that so much of this is”unacceptable” but feeling that way doesn’t change reality.

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Jan 1, 2022 11:51AM - edited Jan 1, 2022 11:51AM by ruthbru

Jeet, when I finished my treatments (surgery, chemo, rads), I also pushed my oncologist (who I liked very much) for GUARANTEES. This is what he said, "You've done all the medically recommended treatments, and are following the lifestyle recommendations (staying a healthy weight, lots of exercise, very little booze, regular checkups etc. etc.), the rest you have to leave to God (substitute 'fate' or 'luck' for 'God' is that works in better with your personal beliefs). So.....I did. Figuring that if cancer never came back, I would have wasted all that time worrying for nothing; and if it did come back, I surely better get busy living and making memories NOW (which we all should be doing anyway). If you don't trust your oncologist, by all means get a new one; but no honest doctor will tell you differently than what your doctor has said. If you are having trouble adjusting to this difficult reality (and it is difficult), working with a counselor or support group may be helpful.

"Invisible threads are the strongest ties." Friedrich Nietzsche Dx 2/2007, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/11 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 1, 2022 04:27PM minustwo wrote:

I agree with all the posters - we will never know.

However this particular topic is supposedly restricted to Mods & Admin. I think the answers are very valuable & that they should be preserved. Perhaps the Mods can move the entire thread?

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014

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