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Chemo v. Quality of Life
Treepeo
247 Posts

I have been on a break from chemo, and am struggling to decide whether to resume it in the New Year. I get an infection called impetigo. It's normally not a big deal. I just get sores in my nose. But on chemo, I get major outbreaks on my face, ending right under my eye, and the infection will not go away, even when I take antibiotics. There are pustules that are sore, itchy, and when they weep, highly contagious. And having to wear a mask is torture, very painful and it spreads the infection. My last infection was about 6 months ago. I had 3 rounds of antibiotics and have been off chemo for 4 months, and my face is still not completely normal.
In addition to this infection, I get the other usual side effects from chemo, including neuropathy, extreme dry mouth, fatigue, etc. After my last treatment, I also got a sore on my tongue that was so bad, I couldn't eat for several days.
I am only on my first line of treatment, and I do want to live for as long as possible. And I know that there are people who probably put up with a lot worse to give themselves more time. But quality of life is very important to me, too. I just don't know how much more I am willing to put my body through. I keep going back and forth in my mind, and it's driving me crazy. I wish I could just make a decision either way, but it's not easy. I don't know what to do.

6 Replies
Dave58
356 Posts

@Treepeo Welcome to our little community of caring and supportive people. What a position you're in. I truly with there was an easy answer for you. Since quality of life seems to be where your decisions hinge than that's where I would begin . There's no doubt physically you can't finish the chemo treatments so that becomes moot.

So it comes down to the side effects you mentioned. I am so sorry about those! Can you finish with the side effects ? Yes. It will not be easy but you can do it. You can recover from the side effects but at what cost to more time ? By continuing the treatments can you recover from the side effects and still enjoy a quality of life that may come with a longer time until the end of life ?

I know that's not exactly helpful but I'll be thinking of your post and add you to my prayer list.

@Treepeo I can’t imagine how uncomfortable that must be for you. The decision must be weighing on you even more heavily as you’re not even over the last round of side effects. Not sure if you have a mental health team, but Steven has had conversations with his team about how much more he is willing to undergo. As a couple we too have had many conversations and I have made it clear that he is only to do what he’s comfortable undertaking. He needs to be selfish in that decision and not push it because of his thoughts for others (me). Not much help I’m afraid but sending you some virtual peace as you weigh your decision 💛

ACH2015
2198 Posts

@Treepeo

Ask your oncologist if there is another chemo you could take that would reduce the potential side effects. Sometime this is the case for many of us, and we are able to recieve treatment with different drug(s).

Also… if not - ask about the potential effectiveness of reduced doses at different time frames as apposed to the full dose.

ACH2015

WendyP
12 Posts
It’s such a personal decision.

I was diagnosed May 4, 2021, with metastatic breast cancer. The cancer has moved to my spine/bones and within 5 months is now in my pelvis, hip, shoulder etc.
I have been offered many, many types of treatments including chemo and I have opted for pain management. This is my choice. Not right or wrong..,, but my choice.
In my situation quality of life far outweighs quantity. To live the rest of my days with limited pain is better for me than dealing with the sickly side effects of chemo treatments. In 2017, I endured 4 months of chemo, 27 rounds of radiation as well as a bilateral mastectomy including 17 lymph nodes being removed. I was very sick for 9 months, but knew there was a chance of survival. This time, being given a terminal diagnosis, I’m looking at things differently.
It’s a very personal decision snd one that my two girls snd my husband support.
I will also be taking advantage of the MAID program in Ontario. Another very personal decision.
I've posted this just to give others a different perspective. There are so many options out there snd so many decisions to be made. Every one of them are personal.

There is no right or wrong decision. It’s personal.... snd only you can make the choice.
Good luck with your decision making.
Boby1511
734 Posts

@Treepeo

Hi there,

I feel for you. Those sores sound just awful. I can't imagine the discomfort. A heavy decision for you.

I too got the mouth sores on chemo. Was very bad at one point as I could not swallow. So painful. And sores on my ostomy. Makes you wonder where else these sores are.

I too am on the fence as to whether I will undergo treatment again. The mouth sores were just too much for me. I thought for sure got to try treatment once, you never know, might work. But a second time, with all that info now with me. I don't know. I have no desire to die either, but not sure I can do another round without any assurances it would work.

Its hard to make unclear treatment choices. So much risk either way. Do I want to spend my last days suffering under chemo? Or if I do chemo, maybe it works again, the tradeoff for a couple more years.

Sending you best wishes. Hugs

Boby1511
734 Posts

@WendyP

My heart goes out to you. Last year when I was very ill and given my terminal diagnosis, I too signed up for MAID.

You sound very strong.

I pray you stay comfortable for a very long time.

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