Deciding not to get treatment

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I have rib and lung metastases from breast cancer, diagnosed in August this year. I was originally diagnosed in early 2018, treated with chemo, radiotherapy and surgery at the time.

I've decided to not accept any treatment, for now anyway. I've started with monthly Denosumab injections but that's it. 

Here are some of my reasons:

- I've had a bad time with hormone treatments - I hate the way they make me feel like an ancient sweaty mess (I'm 44). The thought of five to ten years of it fills me with dismay.

- I hated chemotherapy. The first few rounds left me bedridden for days after each session, nauseous and unable to eat, constipated with awful brain fog. Despite the doctors saying there was plenty they could do to limit the side-effects, nothing much was offered beyond Pramin for the nausea. I was told not to stay in bed and to get some exercise. I felt freakish with the hair loss and I was left financially out of pocket as I had to take nine months off work.

- Radiotherapy was awful too for different reasons. A very de-humanising, conveyor belt-like experience. 

- I felt rushed into treatment the first time around. Nobody told me that I could take a couple of weeks to decide what to do and it wouldn't make any difference - quite the opposite.

- Being in and around the hospital gives me the heebie-jeebies. It was getting better, then I had to go into the chemotherapy ward for the Denosumab, which I wasn't expecting. I nearly turned around and walked out.

- I don't have a partner or children, so I don't feel an obligation to stick around for the sake of anyone else.

- I'm not afraid of dying. I'm not religious so I don't believe I'm going to heaven or anything, but from everything I've read it doesn't seem like a scary thing. 

- There are no guarantees that treatment would extend my life.

- Overall I'm finding difficult to trust the medical advice now. When you are treated for cancer and do all the things you're told to do, you're given the impression that the cancer is gone. It obviously wasn't gone in my case. I was told the Denosumab would help with the bone pain in my ribs, but after the first injection last week the pain has got markedly worse.

Is there anyone else out there in the same situation? What are your reasons for deciding not to get treatment?

  • Hi ByeWorld

    i feel for you, I have just been diagnosed with colon cancer that has spread to my liver, kidneys, stomach and ovaries and I am terrified at the thought of chemo.  

    I have agreed to the treatment and expect to be starting in the next couple of weeks. The chemo is not going to change the end result for me, just possibly delay it. Like you I am not scared of dying, I too have no children and I don’t want to spend my last months feeling so sick that I can’t do anything.

    They said I would be able to delay or stop the treatment at anytime. I know I can’t be cured and I want to have quality of life over quantity. I think I’m doing the chemo more for my family, especially for my mum but if I don’t feel it’s right for me I will stop it straight away.

    All the best


  • FormerMember
    FormerMember in reply to SG007

    Hi SG,

    Maybe you and your mum need to have a heart-to-heart. Make sure she knows what your wishes are, separate from hers. Do you have access to counselling to help you work out how to approach the topic?

    Having said that, I still haven't told my older sister. She and I had a falling out a while back and she hurt me the way only your family can. I don't know how to approach the conversation with her. 

    I wish you all the best too xxx