Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer

FEC experience 2

By ci

I was diagnosed with a ductal carcinoma and and had a lumpectomy plus two sentinel nodes removed back in February. The nodes were clear and I was given the option of radiation and tamoxifen or chemo, radiation and tamoxifen. I'm 45 and the registrar said chemo would give me a really, really good chance of living a long and healthy life (my gran made her late 90s and I've every intention of doing the same) so I agreed with much trepidation afterall you hear so many horror stories about symptoms don't you. At that point the only day I'd taken off work was the day of my op - I've got a desk job so it's not exactly strenous and I always feel better if I can keep my brain occupied.

My chemo regime is 6 doses of FEC (on a 21 day cycle). For the first visit to the hospital I was accompanied by my hubbie - not sure who was more scared to be honest. I spent an hour being advised on all the possible side effects and yes, that really didn't make me feel any better. I'd opted for the cold cap to try to keep my hair (I wanted some sort of normality during treatment and if all I could manage was hair that would be it). I had my 5th dose of FEC last week and looking back I can honestly say I've been ok. After the first dose I had indigestion on and off for a couple of weeks (should have had shares in gaviscon!) but I was given tablets to reduce stomach acid the second time so that's not happened again. After the third dose I felt nauseous in the evening - the doctor had reduced my anti-sickness meds so next time they were put back up. After the fourth my periods stopped (yippee! My lump was hormone reactive so that's one less worry).

Up until two weeks ago I was out dog-walking at 6am every day - 2 miles before breakfast. My legs feel tired first thing now so I'm sending hubbie and dogs out while I sort out breakfast but as the day goes on I'm back to normal. I'm still working every day (I'll admit the days when my immune system's lowest I work from home just to be safe and I've made sure colleagues phone me if they're feeling off colour so I don't go into the office), I've had no infections, I've not been sick, I've had a couple of mouth ulcers (nothing more than I'd probably have had in the timescale anyway) and my fingers feel a bit numb on the fourth morning after treatment. The main irritation for me is that I've put on over a stone in weight - the steroids for the 48 hours after chemo seem to shoot my weight up by four or five pounds for a couple of days and then it drops back but each cycle puts a couple more pounds on (most of the weight went on in the first two cycles - my steroid dose was halved after that as they were making me ravenous!).

I've got one treatment to go. Most of the time I feel absoutely fine. I get the occasional hot flush and sleepless night and the odd day when I need to take things slowly but I'm still working full time and getting out to my weekly two hour tai chi class. All in all I think I've done ok (fingers crossed for the final cycle).