Saturday, March 10, 2012

Fearing Chemotherapy

  Not too long ago, a metastatic breast cancer survivor posted on the Advanced Breast Cancer Support Community  that she was going to refuse chemo because "it only worked for a couple of years and if you're stage IV you're going to die from it anyway."  well...those weren't quite her words, but that was the gist of it....Her fear was coming out.

Obviously, I disagree with that statement as I managed to go for 14 years with no evidence of disease (affectionately called "NED." ) before getting back in to the trenches.  I have to admit, although I wouldn't CHOOSE to have chemo...that is, if I were disease free, I wouldn't go to my doctor and say "Hey, I think I'd like to try chemotherapy life would just not be complete without it!"  it is doable.  Not fun, but do-able.  I admit, I was pretty worn out with the Abraxane...and my hands and feet are still very very numb, a maddening fact that it only worked while I was on it...but it didn't have any lasting effects....the thought of going back on chemo within two months of stopping Abraxane was more than I wanted to wrap my brain around....but since I've had a little more time, I feel that I would be ready to go back on if I needed to.

I find it odd and a bit disquieting that for many people who are diagnosed with cancer, chemotherapy scares them more than cancer does.  Pretty horrific thought isn't it?  The "cure" (and I use that loosely because there really isn't a cure) viewed as being worse than the disease.

Misconceptions about chemo abound.....not everyone has the same side effects....some people find it very easy whereas others may have a tough time with the same drug.

However, sometimes it works, works well, and works for a long time.  I'm living proof of that.  Don't get me can always come back...even if you've had a cancer which was detected least for breast cancer, despite what all the happy-dappy GE advertisements, ACS and Susan G. Komen ads want you to think.  Yes...early detection can save lives and can prolong the period in which you are cancer free.....but what about us who have had it come back...and spread? surprise, I digress.  Even so, there are those people who manage to make it out for a long time....people DO survive.  Why can't it be you? Why can't it be me? I can tell you though, if you don't fight and if you don't try, your chances of making it are lessened.   

Deciding to refuse chemo-therapies, or any other therapy is a personal decision, but it is one which you need to collect a lot of information about.  It is one that you need to thoroughly discuss with your oncologist...and maybe with a second opinion as well. 

I might not like it....I might not like the side effects, but I am going to take every little chance I have until I just cannot do it anymore.  

1 comment:

  1. Excellent piece Lisa. You hit the nail on the head. I would love to see someone do a good study about those of us that are ‘megasurvivors” to see what we all have in common. Is it just that we’re lucky and chemo works for us and we are the ones that don’t get ever SE in the book? Are we the ones that have the best support system? Are we surviving longer than the average because we’re not afraid to live and have a glass of wine if we want it and are inclined to say yes instead of no to life in general? How does sex play a roll in all of this? Very curious. If I had the energy it would make a great dissertation. Maybe someone else does. I know we hold the key to something because we didn’t get 15 years or more of life dealing with cancer just because we’re lucky!