Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer

EC experience

By mrb

EC chemo is FEC without the "F" - epirubicin and cyclophosphamide. This was my first chemotherapy, 3 years after I had a routine mammogram, followed by diagnosis of hormone-responsive bc with secondaries.

I had 6 x EC on a 3-weekly cycle. Side effects other than hair loss were manageable. Anti-sickness drugs/steroids (I had ondansetron, domperidone and dexamethasone) worked well. The IV nurses found my veins OK, and blood counts recovered between each cycle. I drank lots of water etc. which may have helped avoid bladder problems sometimes caused by the cyclophosphamide.

The first few days I rested as much as possible. On days 7-14, when immunity is low, I hibernated (no shopping, avoid children, take temperature several times daily, only eat food I had cooked myself etc.). Third week of cycle, activities as normal. Slight constipation followed by slight diarrhoea on most cycles. Strange feeling in mouth/throat but no major taste alterations. Gained about 7 lb weight over the 18 weeks, I haven't lost it yet. I avoided alcohol and coffee except for the 3rd week.

Hair began falling out towards the end of the first cycle (just after my 60th birthday!), eyelashes about 4th cycle (sore eyes around this time) and eyebrows around the time I finished chemo. Now, five months after the last treatment, brows and lashes are back, but hair is still very short, I've just started going around in public without a wig or scarf.

I did have sore fingertips, maybe because it was a cold winter and I didn't wear gloves enough outdoors. This is an unusual side effect with this chemo.

Before starting chemo I was terrified, having heard so much about side effects, but I needed it because previous hormonal treatments had stopped working and my liver mets were growing. I had several scans during and after treatment. To my great relief the tumours have shrunk slightly. Now I feel well in myself, no build-up of fatigue, am doing all normal activities.