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Thursday, February 24, 2011 HC, Community Member, asks

Q: can i expect to sill go to work while doing the AC regimen? have been working thru the last 12 weeks of chemo (Taxol/avastin) - I am EXHAUSTED but still do to work every day, pushing myself.

I also feel lots of twinges on the right side where my BC is- does this mean the chemo is working or could my tumor be spreading? I have TNBC grade III invasive poorly differentiated which I guess means it has infiltrated the surrounding tissue. I try to be very positive and occupy myself at work and at home yet i feel like I am slipping more into worry and being overwhelmed as i get closer to the end of my 19 weeks of chemo, facing surgery ultimately...I should feel happy but am scared about the potential "wait & see" what happens aftermath to chemo...what do people do then?
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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
2/24/11 6:12am

I personally found myself more fatigued on AC than on Taxol (I didn't have the Avastin part).  I worked through the Taxol and was on summer vacation from my job as a teacher during all but the very end of AC.  I don't know if I could have worked through the AC, but everyone is different.  If going to work is essential for your financial or mental well-being, consider going home a little earlier, taking a rest in the middle of the day, or taking off a day or two right after the treatment and maybe another one when your blood counts are lowest between treatments.

Be careful about exposure to germs because your immune system will be down.  When you get home, don't try to be superwoman; get all the rest you can once you are home.  Unless you would need to train a replacement, it's worth a try to see how you do working while on AC.  I've known some people who breezed right through it.

It's normal to be worried, but do try not to let the worry consume you.  As a Stage IIIB inflammatory breast cancer patient (Her2 positive before Herceptin), I had every good reason to worry about recurrence.  Like triple negative patients now, there was no follow-up care for me.  Of course, I did worry about recurrence, but I tried to focus on the idea that someone was going to stay well, so it might as well be me.  Worry won't add a day to your life, and if your life might be cut short by cancer why ruin what is left with worry?  Talking to a counselor, keeping a journal, and/or asking your doctor for an anti-anxiety medication are some ways to cope.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
2/24/11 6:13am

Hi - First of all, things WILL get better. Cancer treatment has its low points for sure, and you're probably in one right now. Transitions are tough - change is scary, and switching from one drug to another, with possible new side effects, is a mental and emotional challenge. But - put one foot in front of the other, because all you can do is keep moving.

 

I'd caution you not to push yourself too hard. The last thing you want to do is become sick due to your compromised immune system. You HAVE to take it easy now! I'm the voice of experience - I pushed myself too hard at work, right at the end of chemo, and ended up in the hospital for a week with pneumonia - at Christmas! So please be reasonable with self-expectations. Now is NOT the time to be Superwoman. You need to lovingly tend your body as it goes through this.

 

I think it's safe to say twinges don't have any relation to cancer growth, or whether chemo is working; it's not something you can physically feel, on that level. And, you're going through a very common stage right now - as you visualize the end of treatment, it's kind of scary; we call it the "who's taking care of me now?" syndrome.

 

Please check out the links on our survivorship page. There are all kinds of posts there dealing with exactly how you're feeling, and how you'll probably feel post-treatment. I hope this helps; good luck with the AC, and please come back and visit here whenever you need support. We're here for you. PJH

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By HC, Community Member— Last Modified: 02/24/11, First Published: 02/24/11