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Topic: Questions about working during treatment TNBC IDC

Forum: Chemotherapy - Before, During, and After —

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

Posted on: Jan 12, 2019 06:40AM

LauraJaqob wrote:


This is my first post, so I'm not sure how all of this works. I'm 41. On October 30, I found a lump in my left breast. I had a required business trip from October 31-November 8, so I scheduled an appt with my GYN on November 9. By November 14, I was diagnosed with IDC, TNBC, with a 7mm tumor, cancer in at least three lymph nodes, with a very high proliferation rate and, well, all bad news on all measures. We had to move fast!! There was no time to think!!! I started 4 rounds over 8 weeks of A/C chemo on November 30. Fast!!! After A/C, I have 12 rounds of weekly Taxol, then surgery, then 3-7 weeks of daily (5) radiation.

I was a bonafide health nut before all of this - worked out every day, lifted weights, ran, hiked, etc - ate a pescatarian, gluten free (I have celiac) diet, ate healthy at least 80% of the time, never smoked, drink red wine moderately, devoted to keeping my body strong and healthy after a battle for my life from C Diff 19 years ago, before they knew how to treat it. I relapsed with C Diff three times and lost half my body weight. After that, I devoted my life to a healthy lifestyle!

I now feel as though my body has betrayed me. I was angry at first. But I know that's not helpful. I'm trying to love my body through this process, to hopefully help it heal.

I had my last A/C last night and surprisingly the nausea hit within hours! I usually had a day or two of feeling pretty good, but not this time. Nausea woke me up at 3am and I took my meds. it's now 4:15am and I can't sleep. I have been unable to work during A/C due to nasty nausea and dizziness, daily migraines triggered by chemo, flu like symptoms, mouth sores, raw throat, hemorrhoids (never had those before!!), chemo brain - you get the idea!

I start Taxol in two weeks. My question is this. How much "easier, as I've heard" has Taxol been for those of you who went through A/C first? Were you able to work? Part-time? Full-time? I love my job and my coworkers, but I'm scared to go back too soon and get too sick at work.

I'm not sure if I'll need a mastectomy yet. My surgeon is "somewhat confident" that I'll need a lumpectomy and at least three lymph nodes taken out only. I haven't heard about recovery time for surgery since it's still 3.5 months away, and we need to confirm the tumor size has shrunk. I assume I won't be working during this time. Any insight on what others have experienced would be great.

Also, what about radiation? I have read a lot of posts that say the fatigue is worse during radiation. Were you able to work? Part-time? Full-time?

I know I've asked a lot. So, even if someone out there can answer one part of my questions, that would be extremely helpful! I'm trying to plan a little, even though I know this is all a moving target!

Thank you!!


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Jan 12, 2019 03:26PM Moderators wrote:

Hi Laura, and welcome to Breastcancer.org!

We're so sorry for the reasons that bring you here, but we're really glad you've found us. You're sure to find our Community an incredible source of information, advice, and support -- we're all here for you as you navigate your treatment journey!

You may want to join the Weekly Taxol Group thread to ask those helpful members for some advice on what they're experiencing on the drug.

Also, the Radiation Therapy forum would be a good place to ask about what to expect there.

And the Surgery Forum can give you some insight on what to expect in terms of downtime and recovery.

In addition, there's a Breast Cancer and Your Job section on the main Breastcancer.org site which you may find helpful!

We hope this all helps and that you get some responses here, too, soon.

We look forward to hearing more from you!

--The Mods

To send a Private Message to the Mods: community.breastcancer.org/mem...
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Jan 12, 2019 03:55PM anotherNYCGirl wrote:

Laura, - I HOPE you are feeling better by now!!

I had a hard time with A/C, so after one dose my onc divided the treatments (just C then just A, then C then A, etc) which made it much more tolerable. I had 4 DD taxol after that with no problem. I was advised to eat foods rich in magnesium during taxol, maybe that helped.

I was not working during AC/T treatment, but if you were able to work while on A/C, I would think that you would be ok working while on taxol!

As for radiation, I had that when I was working (teaching), and it didnt cause an issue. I rushed out of work for treatments that took 5 minutes. The biggest hassle was getting to the radiation place, getting undressed and redressed and back in the car! ;) Do what ever they say to keep your skin from feeling burned (mine was red but not painful). I used aloe gel after treatments (but cant be used before treatments. I dont remember if I washed it off before? Ask the radiologists, I am sure they will advise)

Lumpectomy recuperation shouldnt be too bad, even mast is do-able. Take your days off according to how you feel! Everyone is different, but you are young and will heal quickly!

Sending hugs.

Dx 1998, DCIS, Stage 0 Surgery 3/17/1998 Lumpectomy: Left Dx 6/2000, ILC, Stage IA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/10/2000 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 7/31/2000 CMF Hormonal Therapy 2/11/2001 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 2/11/2001 Breast Hormonal Therapy 2/11/2006 Femara (letrozole) Dx 2/2014, ILC, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 3/24/2014 Lymph node removal: Left, Right; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 5/1/2014 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 11/19/2014 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Surgery 1/13/2015 Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 5/27/2015 Reconstruction (right): Latissimus dorsi flap, Silicone implant Surgery 2/21/2016 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Nipple reconstruction
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Jan 12, 2019 04:49PM BrinkOfEternity wrote:

Hi Laura,

Like you I’m also 41, so I’ll share with you my experience so far. I haven’t had AC yet though.

Weekly Taxol - I get nauseated easily in general but the nausea from Taxol was quite manageable. I did acupuncture to help with neuropathy and it actually helped with nausea. I only took zofran a few times. The neuropathy does add up toward the end so if your work involves a lot of typing it might be tough.

Work during Taxol - I work in a desk job and was able to work most days except for infusion days. I did opt to work from home 2 days a week, which made things easier for me.

Surgery option - I opted for mastectomy because I had 2 tumors instead of 1. The chances of it spreading elsewhere in the breast is just too high for me to stick with lumpectomy.

Surgery recovery - I’ve always been rather healthy with an above average pain tolerance, so recovery has not been bad. Didn’t take any pain meds since discharge and able to sleep on my non-surgery side in a week. Compared to c-section (after which I had to take pain meds for a few days), mastectomy with sentinel node removal does force you to rest your arm for a few weeks. I was told I cannot drive for 3 weeks and should not go back to work until after 4 weeks.

Weakly ER+ so practically TNBC, getting neoadjuvant chemo (Abraxane) with immunotherapy (Keytruda), then surgery, then more chemo (AC) Dx 7/26/2018, DCIS/IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH) Chemotherapy 9/4/2018 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Surgery 12/27/2018 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 2/4/2019 AC Surgery 4/26/2019 Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap
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Jan 12, 2019 05:24PM - edited Jan 12, 2019 05:25PM by LauraJaqob

Thank you so much for your response! I was unable to work during A/C - the side effects have been too bad. I just had my last A/C last night and it hit me like a Mac truck!! I hadn't felt this bad this quick yet, so I'm hoping the next two weeks aren't even worse than the others. I'm very much up in the air about working during Taxol. I figure I'll give myself two weeks of Taxol treatments to decide. I have a stressful job, so I'll have to be careful not to get all wrapped up in work stress!

Thanks so much for the information about your surgery and radiation experiences! I'm told I should only need a lumpectomy and 3+ axillary lymph nodes removed. I'm hoping recovery is pretty smooth. I'm also a healthy person and I have a high tolerance for pain. I know this from a bad back injury that has caused me to be unable to walk five times in my life. Pain-wise, I think I'll be ok. Not driving might just force me to work from home, which is an ok option for me, thankfully.

Thanks again!

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Jan 12, 2019 05:33PM LauraJaqob wrote:

Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I was unable to work during A/C - the side effects have been too bad. I had my last A/C last night, and it hit me harder much faster than the previous three. I’m afraid I might be doomed for the next two weeks. But I’ll handle it!

I think I’ll give myself two solid weeks of Taxol treatment to see how I feel and possibly work 2-3 days per week. I have a stressful job (similar to teaching - I manage a glibalmedical education program for physicians), so I’ll have to be careful not to get wrapped up in all the work shenanigans. 😀

Thanks for the insight about radiation and surgery! I hope to work full time during radiation and just work my schedule around my appts. If surgery is bad, I’ll take time off. Like everyone else, I’m searching for normalcy. And I do love my job.

Cheers to making through so much!!!


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