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Topic: Red Devil survivors, please

Forum: Chemotherapy - Before, During, and After —

Regimens, side effects, and support from others going through chemo.

Posted on: Jan 25, 2012 09:41AM

wrsmith2x wrote:

This is my second breast cancer, a recurrence, in 4 years.  My first was treated with Taxotere and Cytoxan every 3 weeks for 4 times.  Because the tumor returned, my age and the size, grade and receptor status they are recommending the Red Devil and Taxol this time....eight times for a total of 16 weeks.

First of all I'm pissed.  Because I did Lumpectomy, chemo and rads last time my chances of recurrence were supposed to be around 7%.  This time they tell me without chemo the chances of recurrence is around 30%....even if I have the BMX I am planning on having.  WTF?  I didn't even want chemo the first time.  Chemo is poison and the more I read about it the more I hate it.  And now they want me to do the worst one there is!

Talk to me ladies.  Anyone who has had the Red Devil that has lived for a while past it.....5 years or more?  Any long term side effects?  What about during it?  How did that go?

I am understandbly Verklempt!

1st dx, 2007, IDC, Stage 1 (1.2cm), grade 3, 0/1 node, TriNeg.....2nd dx, 2011, IDC, Stage 2 (3.2cm & 1.5cm) grade 3, 0/1 node, Tri-Neg......BMX with DIEP 2/16/12......3rd dx, lung mets, Stage IV, 7/24/14. Dx 11/16/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/3/2008 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 3/24/2008 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 12/19/2011, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Dx 7/24/2014, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 25, 2012 09:48AM sewingnut wrote:

My Aunt is an 18yr+ surviver that did AC tx. She had 13 of 16 positive nodes. She does have a bundle block on her heart and is on heart meds. Her cardiologist is saying it was the Adriamycin. She had a very fast growing cancer. Opted for MX, no reconstruction. She is living her life and enjoying all her grandkids.

Dx 12/2010, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 1/7 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Jan 25, 2012 09:49AM Granuaile wrote:

Hi WR - not a longtime survivor, but I did A/C, and then Taxol/Herceptin last Spring/Summer. I have to tell you, I had a really hard time with the A/C (blurry vision, jitters, everything tasted bad, nausea, exhaustion), and have neuropathy (fingers and toes) from the Taxol. It seems like a really potent combination, but I'd definitely be looking at mitigating SEs. I'm so sorry to hear about your recurrence. I'm just waiting for it to happen too, being Stage and Grade 3, and Her2 positive - just had some enlarged chest nodes show up, so that could be because of the cold I have, or a regional recurrence! I'm sure plenty of others will be along to share their experiences, and I absolutely will be thinking about you.

Stage IIIA, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, Her2+
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Jan 25, 2012 10:04AM thenewme wrote:

Hi WrSmith, it sucks that you're going through this again!   I see your tagline says "unsure of hormonal activity."  Does that mean they're not sure whether it's TN this time?  I had Adriamycin-combination chemo (AC/T) about 3 years ago and am doing fine.  The AC combination was tough, and there's no doubt that it really is poison, but that's why it's effective.  My best advice is to be very proactive with side effects and to ask for extra fluids the day after, even if you think you're drinking a lot!  Don't wait until you feel nausea before you take the anti-nausea meds.  At least for the first few days, take the meds faithfully and consistently.  I didn't at first, and it was much harder to rein in after I felt nauseated.  They'll probably do a MUGA heart scan to check your cardiac function before you start, just to monitor.   Especially for young and otherwise healthy patients with normal heart function, the side effects are mostly temporary.  As of now, I don't know of any lasting effects I had from the Adriamycin.  Did you have a lot of bone pain before with Taxotere?  I did, and needed pain meds to deal with that, and I had some pretty severe neuropathy, but it's all pretty much resolved now. 

I hate that you're in this situation, but it sounds like you have a good plan.  You can do this.  When do you start?  Please let us know how you're doing!  

Dx 11/2008, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/9 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 25, 2012 10:22AM BelaT wrote:

I did one Taxotere and cytoxin and did numbers on my colons - now they want to change to adriamycin and I am scared

Dx 12/15/2011, DCIS, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 25, 2012 10:42AM Claire_in_Seattle wrote:

I did SIX of each (AC+T) as part of a trial and I am fine.  Extremely minor symptoms which I would not have if I had done only four.  It was not fun, but it was not the end of the world either.

I was extremely fit going in, and was able to exercise throughout.  By "exercise", I was able to cycle every weekend, but not at the pace I normally would.  I ate normally too, although craved salty food at the end of AC.

I did take adidopholous tables throughout, and I think they helped with digestion.  I was also given Neulasta shots, so never got neutropenia, nor did I get any viruses.

This was two years ago, and I am more than fine now.  I would do it again, if I needed to.

Good luck!!  I looked upon chemo as my friend in extirpating the beast.  I still think that.

As for hair loss, I was overdue for a new look anyway.  A bit drastic, but LOVE the way I look now.

And there is nothing I can't do now that I could do prior to diagnosis.  NOTHING. - Claire

Completed all treatment (AC +T, lumpectomy, radiation and 5 years of AIs - anastrazole). Now celebrating every single day for the wonderful life I have been granted. Dx 8/2009, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/21 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH)
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Jan 25, 2012 10:47AM BelaT wrote:

Thanks Clare for this post. Its good to hear from people who has been thro. I will keep you guys in loop.

Bela 

Dx 12/15/2011, DCIS, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 25, 2012 10:59AM - edited Aug 10, 2012 07:12PM by del4

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Jan 25, 2012 11:06AM thenewme wrote:

LOL, I'd love to say I'm in fantastic shape like Claire but.....umm..... nope!  Rest assured, though, chemo is doable even if you're not, and even if working out during chemo would NEVER have crossed my mind!  Laughing

Sunflowers, hahahaa - I'd have loved to see your bald head all decorated!  Got pictures?  

Dx 11/2008, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/9 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 25, 2012 11:22AM - edited Jan 25, 2012 11:24AM by my2boys

It hasn't been 5 years for me, but I was diagnosed in 2008 and went through 6 treatments of TCH only to have recurrence in early 2010.  I was immediately put on A/C TH.  4 A/C and then 12 weekly Taxol with Herceptin every third week.  I was also on Tykerb with the Herceptin.  I have to say that I found the A/C TH much easier to tolerate than the TCH.  I had much more energy and exercised my way right through it.  I didn't experience the fatigue and shortness of breath that I felt with TCH.  Other than a little nausea and a lot of dry mouth, nothing to complain about.  My heart is checked every three months and the cardiologist says it looks just fine.  I'm on Herceptin and Arimidex now and I feel great!

I never thought of the chemo as poison, just strong medicine.  If I had never had it, I might not be here today.

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Jan 25, 2012 12:06PM Mardibra wrote:

Just finished 4 rounds of AC every two weeks.  Moving onto Taxol tomorrow.  AC wasnt all that bad for me.  Days 4, 5, and 6 fatigue was the worst but I managed to work through the whole process.  Totally doable.

IDC and DCIS. Lumpectomy/AND 10/21/11. Chemo 12/1 - 3/15. UMX 4/13/2012. Rads completed 7/3/12. DIEP reconstruction to begin Jan 2013. Dx 8/31/2011, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 7/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 25, 2012 12:31PM Ellie1959 wrote:

I did TAC six years ago too with no residual heart damage. I've had multiple surgeries and have had tests on my heart with no issues. No chemo is fun but I can't pinpoint any issues on it going forward - take care, Ellie

Dx 12/27/2005, ILC, 5cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 2/12 nodes, ER+, HER2-
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Jan 25, 2012 12:45PM CharB22 wrote:

Thank you all for your words of encouragement. I'm about to have AC #2 tomorrow, then 4 T. I'm an otherwise healthy 47 yo with only seasonal allergies. So I'm hoping to come out of this with no long term effects. Thanks!

Lumpectomy - 12/9/11, 4 AC, 4 Taxol; Chemo done - 4/26/12 Dx 12/1/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/8/2011 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 1/5/2012 AC
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Jan 25, 2012 01:02PM reesie wrote:

It's only been a year for me (and no problems) but you should consider that Adriamycin is one of the oldest chemos around. So there would be plenty of people with long term experience with it with no problems.

Marie - It's A Great Day To Be Alive. Dx 10/29/2010 ER+/PR+, HER2- Stage IV mets to bones, liver, lungs, skin, pleural effusions
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Jan 25, 2012 06:06PM Curlylocks wrote:

Sorry you have had a reoccurance...that truly sucks!

 I am a 6 1/2 year bc survivor....did 4 a/c in Dec 2005...I feel amazingly well..started running 1.5 years ago (have never run in my life)...can now run 5km...no problems with breathing etc.

 A/C is a hard chemo but the poision has worked and kept me here for my family and friends.  I felt extremely tired and slept like I was in hibernation while on a/c.

 All the best!

Michele

Dx 10/23/2005, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/23 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 11/9/2005 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary Chemotherapy 12/5/2005 AC + T (Taxol) Hormonal Therapy 5/1/2006 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 6/1/2006 Breast Surgery 5/3/2008 Prophylactic ovary removal Surgery 12/16/2013 Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Dx 1/9/2014, IDC, <1cm, Grade 1, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 2/11/2014 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jan 25, 2012 06:07PM vivirasselena wrote:

RIght here, dude!  Red devil survivor

I am loved. I am safe. I am healed. Dx 11/12/2010, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Jan 25, 2012 08:02PM amyK wrote:

Hi there,

What a bummer! So sorry you're going through this a second time! It hasn't been as long for me as you're asking, but I did A/C and Taxol. I was diagnosed in October 2010 right after running my first half-marathon. I had a mastectomy followed by chemo and rads. It was a long hard winter and there were definitely days when I didn't do much, but I managed to stay relatively active. By summer, while on rads, I was swimming, running, and biking, and feeling not too shabby. (I documented my experience on my blog and in videos, here's a link if you're interested.) And I ran the same half-marathon this past October, improving my time by about 12 minutes! It sucks but you can get through it.

Best wishes,

Amy

amyK Dx 10/15/2010, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/21 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 25, 2012 08:15PM Titan wrote:

Hey wrsmith..I'm a 3 year survivor of Adriamycin (almost)..seriously don't let it freak you out...it really wasn't that bad...The reason it has a bad rep is because it is a strong drug!  Don't you want that??? It wasn't bad at all...Taxol bothered me more because of the bone aches...adriamycin was more of a quirky type feeling...no body aches.

Dx 3/18/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 26, 2012 11:29AM wrsmith2x wrote:

Good news!  They have backed off the chemo recommendation for now.  They think that maybe this might be a new primary....I don't think so but what do I know....and if that is the caase then the last chemo did its job.  They won't say chemo unless they find lymph node involvement during BMX.

Personally I don't see how it can NOT be a recurrence....it is in same place, it is same ER, PR, Her2 status, it is sam type cancer....DUH!  Whatever.  I'm just glad no chemo, at least for now!  WOOT!

1st dx, 2007, IDC, Stage 1 (1.2cm), grade 3, 0/1 node, TriNeg.....2nd dx, 2011, IDC, Stage 2 (3.2cm & 1.5cm) grade 3, 0/1 node, Tri-Neg......BMX with DIEP 2/16/12......3rd dx, lung mets, Stage IV, 7/24/14. Dx 11/16/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 1/3/2008 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 3/24/2008 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 12/19/2011, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Dx 7/24/2014, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 26, 2012 04:32PM - edited Aug 10, 2012 07:11PM by del4

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Jan 26, 2012 08:17PM TAPPY wrote:

I will Ditto what Titan said..... I had fatigue and nasuea with AC - but it was managable.  I even worked part time.  The main thing is - stay well and stay away from sick people at all cost.  Your white cell count and immunity taking a beat with this.  I did not go grocery shopping ot Christmas shopping and avoided large crowds.  It is a pain, but they can manage the side effects.

To me Taxo was worse because of the bone pain...but everyone is so different.

Many things about tomorrow I dont seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand. Dx 9/9/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 1/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 26, 2012 08:34PM - edited Jan 26, 2012 08:38PM by ruthbru

I did AC almost 5 years ago. I did dose dense with Neulasta shots (so I didn't really worry about infections etc.) I felt like I had a mild case of the flu the whole time; but was able to work full time, kept up with light exercise, went to all DS's school events, a family reunion....everything that I had to do and most of the things I wanted to do too. I am fine now. No lasting SEs other than a slightly low platelet count. 

If you do end up needing chemo; remember that chemo is NOT the enemy. The chemo drugs are working FOR you, like Navy Seals, killing the real enemy.... terrorist cancer cells.

"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 28, 2012 03:41PM drwendy wrote:

I'd be scared NOT to do chemo...I feel like it's my best weapon.  I'm in the middle of every 3 week Adria/cytoxan/taxotere treatment, just finished 4/6 treatments.  I ran and walked half of a marathon 5 days after treatment 3 with my oncologist's blessing.  I'm not fast, but I did it and Disney gave me a medal anyway!  I'm tired and sick sometimes but I work full time and it's manageable.  If they want to do chemo, LET THEM...do you really want to hear from this AGAIN?

Dx 11/3/2011, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 28, 2012 03:45PM diana50 wrote:

i am 10 years out with TAC combination.  it has worked great for me.  i believe in chemo and so far so good.  i was in a clinical trial back in 2002 because of 10 encased lymph nodes...full of cancer.  the drugs often times do their job.  tough but for me; i think worth it.  red devil has been around for a long time and has proved itself to be a cancer killer.  hang in there

Not today cancer. Nope. Dx 2/26/2002, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 3, 10/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 3/3/2002 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary Chemotherapy 4/2/2002 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 8/5/2002 Hormonal Therapy 8/9/2002 Arimidex (anastrozole) Dx 8/30/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy 10/1/2012 Bone Chemotherapy 7/7/2014 Taxol (paclitaxel) Chemotherapy 5/5/2015 Ixempra (ixabepilone) Chemotherapy 10/4/2015 Gemzar (gemcitabine) Hormonal Therapy 4/12/2016 Faslodex (fulvestrant)
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Jan 28, 2012 09:42PM - edited Jan 28, 2012 09:43PM by PlantLover

Oh don't we all wish that there was a silver bullet?  Don't we all wish chemo would forever kill the cancer and we would NEVER hear from it again? Don't we all know that, unfortunately, it's not that simple?

wrsmith2x ... I hope all goes as well as possible with your BMX.  It's all one day at the time, as you know.  Enjoy your good news! 
"Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is." -- Mary Anne Radmacher Dx 10/2009, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, 3/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jan 29, 2012 01:15PM ruthbru wrote:

This is how I look at it: I have done all the recommended treatments and made all the recommended lifestyle changes. This has greatly reduced my chances of ever having to deal with cancer again. Of course, it does not reduce my risk of recurrence down to zero, just tips the odds in my favor. But if it ever comes back, then it is fate.....not something that I had control of. It gives me quite a bit of peace of mind to know that I will never have to say, "If only I would have ______ (fill in the blank), maybe this wouldn't be happening."
"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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Feb 2, 2012 01:19AM bak94 wrote:

I did ac 9 years ago and it was pretty easy on me. I did it again this time around and it was a bit more difficult and I had a heart function test with each treatment and it stayed the same all through out. I found ac a bit eadsier than the taxols! Glad you don't have to do chemo. but I don't think that ac is as bad as some other chemos, at least for me. I know we all handle them diffferently.

Not really sure what stage I am-Some docs say 3C, others say stage 4. I had no auxillary nodes positive but had internal mammary nodes positive and possibly mediastinal node positive. It's just a number anyways, right? Dx 12/15/2002, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/40 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 1/2/2003 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary Chemotherapy 2/5/2003 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 7/8/2003 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 4/5/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 4/27/2011 AC Targeted Therapy 5/14/2011 Avastin (bevacizumab) Chemotherapy 7/29/2011 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Surgery 11/30/2011 Mastectomy: Left, Right Radiation Therapy 2/11/2012 Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 4/10/2012 Aromasin (exemestane) Hormonal Therapy 8/2/2012
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Feb 2, 2012 08:02AM fredntan wrote:

I did AC dd x 4, now I have 4 taxols left.

The taxol is a breeze for me. Vision is a little off. Had very little tingling. I actually have more energy now than ever. I think its my antidepressant-celebrex? I walk fast daily.

The A/C wasn't as easy. But thinking back, I think a lot of my problems were caused by my anxious attitude. I was horribly constipated. Had no appetite. Wouldn't eat for days. Lost 25 lbs between the surgery and Ac. But I had already lost my appetite before the ac. I think I was so scared. And depressed. Didn't start the antidepressant until after Ac. I had more mouth issues. Soreness.
Wish I had started probiotic much sooner. I have championship bowels now. Never thought I could be so excited about crap.

Most of my early issues were made worse by my im so scared attitude. My doc too said 30%she chance of reaccurance. (My phone adds strange words sometime)

I wish I had gotten one of those cds to listen to about guided imagery.heard there is a good one by bella Ruth?

Im going to cut that % down by running and eating better

MBC bone mets, afinitor,aromasin,xgeva Dx 8/3/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 13/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/9/2011 Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right Radiation Therapy 3/29/2012 Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 10/8/2012 Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap Surgery 4/3/2013 Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Dx 10/2013, Stage IV, mets Chemotherapy 11/20/2013 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel), Fluorouracil (5-fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil) Hormonal Therapy
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Feb 2, 2012 10:13AM - edited Sep 21, 2012 10:55AM by Sassa

I did 4 AC + 1 year herceptin.  I am 5 years out (5 year CT/PET scan next week).

I found the effects of the AC to be cumulative.  Each chemo took me a while longer to bounce back from. 

While I did not have a problem with funny tastes in my mouth, I did lose my appetite through the AC and herceptin.  I lost 60 lbs because I forced myself to eat well, but didn't eat much. I needed to lose the weight in any case.

I have to say that 5 years later, I am probably in the best physical condition I have been in for years.  I started exercising during chemo and have kept it up.

Dx 11/6/2006, IDC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/9 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Sep 19, 2012 08:17PM Jojobeans31 wrote:

I am almost 6 years out since having the Red Devil. Doc gave me same dose. Had mastectomy 16 rounds and no recurrence and I am a triple negative. Have some stomach issues but that's the worst I can report.

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May 4, 2017 09:39PM lrscott2649 wrote:

Red devil was rough. I had fluids giving to me following each treatment and I still got so sick were I had to go to the emergency room after each treatment. It was treacherous. I have had severe migraines for months now. Constant contraction in chest.

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