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HER 2 cancer

My daughter in law (age 31yrs and 2 months) just a a radical mastectomy on the left and opted to have a total mastectomy on the right after being diagnosed with HER 2 breast cancer.  At the age of 11 she had PNET and took chemo.  On her recent pathology report she was staged at 2A because she had 11 lymph nodes removed and 2 were postitive.  She can not take the adrimycin because she had it as a child and due to no accurate records the oncologist is afraid to give it to her.  On January 26, 2009 she will start with Taxotere, a platin drug, and Herceptin.  She had  been told that she would not have to take radiation but now the oncologist wants her to at about month 10 if all goes well.  She has a 4 year old and a 1 year old.  We are very concerned about side effects and her ability to care for the children during chemo.  Do women actually work while they take chemo?  Should we be making arrangements for someone to stay with her?  What are the statistics related to this cancer returning?

This discussion is related to very aggressive (HER positive  3) breast cancer.
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     I worked as a high school teacher while taking chemo (adrimyacin and cytoxan).  I always scheduled my chemo for Thursday afternoon and then would take Friday off from work.  By Monday I was fine to go back to work. Actually, my worst day was the second day after chemo...in my case that was on Saturday.  I really did not find the chemo to be as bad as I had anticipated.  It was not a picnic, but it was by no means debilitating.  I was able to function quite well.  Of course, I did not have small children.  There really should be someone available to help her with the kids the first few days after each treatment.
     It really depends on her reaction (everyone's is different) and her type of work.  She MUST be vigilant in reducing her exposure to any germs or viruses.  I was fanatical about washing my hands and not touching anything handled by one of my students if he/she had a cold.  There are many suggestions in the literature given to chemo patients, i.e. don't eat salad in a restaurant, don't eat anything that is undercooked, etc.
     Her oncologist will give her statistical information regarding chance of recurrence based on chemo, radiation, etc.  The oncologist is really the best source of information.
     My hopes are for her complete recovery.  
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526906 tn?1261871796

First of all, I'm so sorry for her diagnosis.  It absolutely rocks a family.  She's lucky to have you on her team!  I have known women to work during chemo.  I think it all boils down to what you have to do.  If she can take some time from work, or have some flexibility in her hours, in my experience that would be best.  I found it to be extremely helpful to have a bunch of friends and family pitching in to help.  I have to admit, I was always an "I can do it all myself" kind of gal.  When I got bilateral breast cancer, one of the lessons I had to learn right away was to ask for help and that people want to help and will do so if only told what to do.  I ended up sending a mass e-mail to my friends and even acquaintances, my childrens teachers and anyone else who's lives would be touched by my upcoming struggle.  By doing so, I was amazed by the number of people who responded with offers of help.  The second hardest lesson I learned was to accept help graciously.  I'm so glad I did both.  I'm now closer to people with whom I was only acquainted, and the support of all of those people carried me through.  

In terms of statistics, I don't know.  Check with your surgeon or oncologist to work that through with you.  If your drs. all agree that the radiation would decrease her chances of recurrence, by all means, do it.  Every difficult thing she endures now will eventually be in the past and she will be alive to raise her children because of the struggle now.  

I wish you all the best of luck with your upcoming battle.


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