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Should I do radiation and chemo? Should I do radiation and chemo?

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Unread 10-18-2010, 05:12 AM
Should I do radiation and chemo?

Wednesday I talk with a radiologist about the pros and cons of radiation and chemo treatment.

I have stage 1B1 adenocarcinoma of the cervix and it was all removed with surgery; however, there were 20 cells found by the pathologist that are not cancer but they didn't like them. It is not clear that I "have to have" radtiation or chemo, but my surgeon said that if I was her sister she would tell me to do radiation and chemo, but she would not be mad if I choose not to.

I'm torn, and it's due to fears of what I think I know about how harsh radiation and chemo is on the body. I'm scared of treatment. I wasn't so afraid of surgery because I've had surgeries before and knew what to expect...pain, etc. I'm afraid to have treatment, but am also afaid that not having treatment this cancer might spread.

I know people that have gone through radiation and chemo say that if their cancer comes back they'd not do treatment because it was so bad. That is why I'm afraid of this. I don't know what to do. It seems like I'm gambling with my future health if I don't do this, but I think I'm a big wimp because my not wanting to go through with it is based on fear.

I know I'll get a lot more info Wednesday from the radiologist. But I'm wondering what your opinions are being a lot of you know what it's like to go through this and can give me a glimse of what your experience was like. Was it so bad? Would you decide to go through radiation and chemo even if you do not have remaining cancer cells or for "preventative" measures?"

Thanks for your thoughts on this!! I really appreciate it.

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Unread 10-18-2010, 07:51 AM
Re: Should I do radiation and chemo?

Hi, Jolene, and thank you for your post. My cancer was different (I had ovarian and uterine) and were in the further stages than yours so I had no choice in whether to accept the chemo and radiation. I can tell you that I was several weeks into the chemotherapy when I met with my radiation oncologist who suggested that I do the radiation at the same time as the chemo (!!). He opined that I was young enough (45 at the time) and strong enough to do both at the same time. He was right.

While the treatment was no picnic, it was absolutely do-able. The whole process is scary but for just about every one of the side-effects I encountered, there was usually some help available. Discomfort ultimately passed, my body recovered, my hair grew back. This is where I really began to feel like a "survivor".

Whatever decision you make will be the right decision for you and we will support you. Best of luck to you.
Unread 10-18-2010, 07:58 AM
Re: Should I do radiation and chemo?

Thank you Maureenie. I appreciate your input. =)
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Unread 10-18-2010, 07:59 AM
Re: Should I do radiation and chemo?

That's a tough decision. Would it need to be both? I have had neither but had loved ones who have gone both ways. The one who chose not to, ended uo needing treatment later anyway. (Different ca from yours). The ones who treated were higher stage so easier decision but glad they did. I guess I'd have some questions. How would you know if you had a recurrence? How advanced would it likely be by the time you'd know you had it? What would the prognosis and treatment be then? How likely is it to recur, or can they even say? That's what I'd ask them, to help make a decision. And I'd get an opinion from a 2nd GYN onc, maybe have another pathologist view the slides. I think you need more info and that would help. I'm sorry you have to deal with this. Sending support and hugs.
Unread 10-18-2010, 08:38 AM
Re: Should I do radiation and chemo?

I wasn't given much of an option either, and I often struggle on whether the long-term effects have been worth it. However, I also know that if I had a recurrence I would be kicking myself for fighting the doctor about it. I did put up a mild attempt to get the doctor to back down, she said "ok, think about it. And I'll see you next week for the chest port".

Its really a personal decision as there are pros and cons to both.

Radiation & the chemo booster do have negative side effects, but for most women those clear up after treatments end. Unlike surgery where you feel better and better with time, treatments build up and make you feel more run down with time. The pro is that its easier to stop the cells in tiny form rather than fight a recurrence. Pelvic rads are a 1 shot deal. You can't have them now and do them later on too. But there are new chemos that can be used should one have rads and still have a recurrence.
Unread 10-18-2010, 09:33 AM
Re: Should I do radiation and chemo?

Hi Jolene-
I'm sorry you are faced with this decision. It's so hard to know what to do and if you are making the best decision. I don't know anything about your condition or radiation, but I do know about cancer and chemo.

I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer clear cell (stage 1a, grade 3) in April. I was optimally debulked and the pathology on all the other tissues and lymph nodes taken was negative. So, essentially, I was cancer-free after surgery. But, my cell type is aggressive, so my gyn/onc insisted on chemo as an "insurance" that any stray cells that "might" be lingering were killed. I asked about not doing chemo and what would happen and his response was that, in his experience with other patients, I would recur in less than two years - more like six months. I started chemo two and a half weeks after my surgery. I did 6 rounds total - carbo/taxotere every three weeks. I did have some minimal side effects, but they were all manageable. Some are lingering, like neuropathy in my toes, but getting better everyday. (I finished chemo 8/23). I was able to work all through chemo and only had a couple of "down days" about three to four days after each infusion. If I recur, I will do it again. Of course, my hope is for permanent remission.

The other ladies have given you some good questions to ask. I guess my main question would be related to those 20 cells they found that they didn't like. What does that mean?? Also, Vega gave some good advice about radiation. You can only do it once, where as chemo is different.

I wish you the best as you navigate through your options. Please keep us posted!
Unread 10-18-2010, 10:25 AM
Re: Should I do radiation and chemo?

My cancer is stage 3A, grade 1, so I feel like I have less choice about it. I just finished chemo. If I had known everything I know now before I started, I would still do it and I would do it even if my cancer was at a lower stage if doctor recommended. It wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined it would be.

My hair started falling out after the first treatment and that really was the hardest part of the whole thing. I'm crying about that more now than I was when it first happened. It's already starting to grow back though and it's only been two weeks since my last treatment. (It grew in a little bit between each treatment but fell out again.)

My treatments were every three weeks. The week of treatment I had 3-5 days when I felt really bad - bone pain, fatigue - and spent a lot of time in bed. The rest of the time I felt normal except I tired out a little more easily. (The only time I noticed that was on a marathon shopping trip.)

Radiation, for me, is another story. I haven't started it yet and I really have my doubts about it. The more I read, the more scared I am. With chemo, the most common side effects are temporary and go away after treatment. Radiation can cause permanent side effects. I'm still going to do it though. I thought about a couple years down the line, if my cancer came back I would want to know I had done everything I could to prevent it.

Before I started treatment, I had decided that I'd do chemo first (as doctor recommended) and decide about radiation later.
Unread 10-18-2010, 12:38 PM
Re: Should I do radiation and chemo?

Thank you for all of the responses and personal experiences. I appreciate having those questions and I'm going to write them down to take with me on Wednesday.

I know myself well enough that I need to be well informed about what my options are and the good and bad of each. If not, I can really make things a lot more worrisome than they really are.

Vega, you said radiatoin is a one time deal? So if I chose the radiation now, what happens if years from now I get lung or ovarian cancer? Radiation wouldn't be a treatment option?
Unread 10-18-2010, 12:41 PM
Re: Should I do radiation and chemo?

I also had stage 1b1 adenocarcinoma of the cervix and had a radical hysterectomy June 30th. The Dr told me I don't need any further treatment. From other stories I've read it seems most people with 1b1 are told the same as me. Were the 20 cells they didn't like in the lymph nodes or cervix? Maybe it is because of where they are located?
Unread 10-18-2010, 12:47 PM
Re: Should I do radiation and chemo?

My hair is already falling out due to stress. I get hand fulls if I run my fingers through my hair. I realize falling out is different with treatment as it is a huge amount of hair with treatment. I remember Vega saying the radiation hair loss is more site specific, which is good. I'd rather not lose my hair, but my main fear is nausea. I'm not too keen on the chemical/metal taste and numbness that might happen either.

I agree with the thought that if I opt to not do this and 10 years from now I have a relapse I will really beat myself up by thinking I could have done things to prevent it.

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