• I have finished my last chemo. What should I expect now?

    Asked by Mbrame37052 on Friday, January 11, 2013

    I have finished my last chemo. What should I expect now?

    14 Answers from the Community

    14 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Dunno, what is your plan? I had multiple surgeries and radiation after I finished chemo. Can you be more specific?

      almost 4 years ago
    • Mbrame37052's Avatar

      Don't have to have radiation. Wanting reconstruction. Had left mastectomy. Thinking about asking to have right mastectomy only because I will worry all the time about cancer coming back in that breast. Would also like to have port removed at same time. I can not lift much on that side without pain shooting from port site to up side of neck. And still tender at port and side of neck. Surgeon says its ok. Can't get back to work like this.
      Oncologist says will check for tumor markers every 4 months and depending what they show will depend on any scan to be done. Mammo every 6 months. I have read different time frames. Was wondering what other doctors do?
      Does the worry of cancer returning go away? Any other advice?
      Forgot to mention, I had nipple and skin sparing mastectomy.

      almost 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Well then, there you go, that's what to expect now. I would recommend though that you check with your insurance to make sure they will cover a prophylactic mastectomy at this point. They will if it is done at the same time as surgery for the other breast, but may not cover it as a separate procedure if it is not medically necessary. As to worrying about recurrence, that is entirely up to you. Worry is a choice.

      almost 4 years ago
    • HeidiJo's Avatar

      You need to speak with your oncologist about your health care plan. But that being said, I wish someone had told me that it is such a long road back. You have to have a lot of patience, you will feel better slowly, and I am very active, so that takes a long time too.

      almost 4 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      One thing for sure is that even though you finished chemo, the side eeffects will linger so be prepared for that. Other than that generic advice, you'd have to discuss your future surgery options, radiation, etc with your doctors.
      Good luck!

      almost 4 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      Your hair will start growing back....you will start feeling stronger......you will try to figure out the "new you".......Are you done treatment now that your done chemo? After chemo, I had radiation, started AI's and had an ooph....then wrist surgery, more recon......all within a year....then in the next year more surgeries on my wrists and to fix my recon....but still I was getting stronger......Congrats on finishing chemo....

      almost 4 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      Mbrane....I just read your second post....so to add to my first answer.....I saw my onc every 3 months for 5 years...he does a physical, tumor markers and a good history at each appt.....While I was on AI's I had a bone density every year....My onc does not do scans unless the patient is symptomatic or requests it....since I had a bilat, no mammos......Worry...yes, but the longer out, the less it is in the forefront of your mind!!!

      almost 4 years ago
    • mcowett's Avatar

      I finished my chemo on 11/29, it has been a very tough month and 1/2. perhaps it's the holidays perhaps it's noticing all the lingering side effects that I did not expect, perhaps it's the menopause I've been kicked into. That is what happened to me, you know; "everyone is different" hold onto to your hat and do do your best to keep a positive attitude.

      almost 4 years ago
    • Tracy's Avatar

      Everyone is different and everyday is different. You have joined the life with cancer club where we worry about silly things and celebrate more things, its all good. Some days will be hard and tired, many more will become stronger. Your brain will sometimes not work as well as before but that will also get better.
      Take good care of yourself, watch out for worry (it is sneaky) and remember to take one day at a time, Tracy.

      almost 4 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      You can expect to gradually leave that "Twilight Zone" that you have been in and come back to the real world. However, you will find that you are not the same person. You will now take notice of the people around you and the beauty of nature -- and you will have a better appreciation. You will get discouraged at how long it takes for your hair to grow back -- and you will not be happy about the lingering effects of the Chemo -- but as time passes, you will get your hair and your strength back. You will worry about every little ache -- thinking that the cancer is back -- but you will eventually learn to be "on guard" but NOT paranoid. You will agonize before each follow-up appointment with Onc -- and then rejoice when you walk out of there. I have been seeing Onc every 3 months -- next appt is 4 months. She orders scans at 2 years. Meanwhile I am on Arimidex for 5 years and I am tolerating quite well. You will learn that family and friends may not be as open as they were in the beginning -- and that is when you turn to your "family" here on What's Next". Good Luck

      almost 4 years ago
    • Myungclas' Avatar

      I was exactly your age when I finished chemo two years ago. I'm on tamoxifen for awhile...two years after menopause, i guess, which hasn't happened yet. My hair started growing back and was thick and long enough to wear without the wig after about two months. As for the worry...I look at it like this. It wasn't one bit fun...this battle...but I won! And though i wouldn't ever want to have to do it again, if I had to I could win again! So I choose not to worry about the possibility. Oh....I have a mammo every year and an MRI in between at six months. My onc doesn't do scans unless there's reason to believe something's there. Congrats on completing the toughest part!

      almost 4 years ago
    • Nomadicme's Avatar

      My experience was very much like Jenny miller's. It takes a while for hair to grow back, much longer than anticipated. It takes a long time to look/feel "normal" again (you have to embrace your new normal). Every pain will freak you out thinking it's cancer. You will feel alone as there's not as much contact with Drs and nurses post active treatment.

      DO join a support group, as knowing you're not alone helps tremendously. Self pity is your biggest enemy. In Atlanta some of the resources are amazing, from yoga classes, cooking classes, painting.

      Do try to get active as soon as possible in any way you can. That is the best way to combat weakness, muscle loss, and depression.

      For the good parts now :). You can focus on healing, working out, growing hair, reconstruction. Ive taken trips i always thought id have time for, but since im not so sure anymore im embracing more. ive also grown closer to my family.

      Just don't expect it to be like life pre diagnosis, it wont be (maybe years later? I'm 1 yr 4 months post chemo, feel far from what used to be normal).

      I wouldn't get the mastectomy in the other breast. If and when cancer happens in the other breast you'll deal with it. Monitoring your other breast means that whatever happens it will be caught early. And remember the danger is not from a local tumor, the danger is from metastasis. I'd aks for MRI yearly, insist on it. My experience was that a mammogram only showed traces of DCIS activity in one quadrant of my breast, and the MRI revealed over 70% of the breast tissue compromised! (A stage II tumor was not revealed by the mammogram!). Insist on having an MRI for those reasons (mammogram poor imaging, MRI excellent). If the Drs don't want to (they're told to minimize costs based on probability scenarios) you WRITE a letter documenting that you asked and ARE asking for an MRI, noting that you're leaving a copy with your family. This should put the fear of you know what in them and get you what
      you need. As long as the MRIs show nothing, you can take that to the bank.

      Congratulations on being done. All the best!

      almost 4 years ago
    • speedy's Avatar

      My last chemo was in Sept. I did not have a port . I had reconstructive surgery 6 weeks later and just a week ago nipple reconstruction. I need an MRI in 3 years to make sure the implants are ok. I still have just a little neuropathy left in my feet & ankles. I'll see the oncologist in 2 weeks. I also have appointments with the breast surgeon every 3 month.

      almost 4 years ago
    • MsScribe's Avatar

      I had a bi lat mastectomy at 50 even though only one breast had cancer in it. Insurance paid and they were done at the same time. Mine were radical, so no skin left, but I had expanders placed in and eventually silicone implants. I felt I would worry the rest of my life if I had left my other breast on and I wanted them to match. I am very happy with my decisions. My husband says they look like boobs to him!

      I ended up having 6 minor surgeries to make the implants look more beast-like, add nipples and reduce the scars. Talk with your oncologist...have you considered genetic testing to help you evaluate your risk factors? Is there a family history? Are you a person who worries anyway? Are you a pragmatist? All these will come into play in your final decision.

      Check back on the forum for more of our thoughts at any point. nancyjac and I are regulars :-)

      almost 4 years ago

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