Taking Breaks From Treatment

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If you have metastatic disease that is advancing slowly and your quality of life is good, you may decide to stop treatment, enjoy your life, and regularly consider your decision again. Evelyn, whose cancer had metastasized to her bones, said, "My quality of life was much more important to me. 'Take a holiday from your medications,' my doctor said, so I dumped 'em all out. My body was so happy to be done with that crap!" Evelyn was able to live comfortably for almost two years without treatment.

When her cancer progressed further and she developed serious pain, she returned to her physician and decided to try chemotherapy again. Her disease and her pain are under control again, many years after she was first diagnosed with metastatic disease.

If you've been off treatment for a while, you may find that you need more and more pain medication. However, the side effects of that same pain medication can affect your quality of life. In this case you may benefit from radiation to the area of persistent and progressive pain. Radiation may allow you to eliminate or significantly reduce all pain medications, lessening troublesome side effects. Discuss this option with your physician.

Expert Quote

"If a cat can be said to have nine lives, a woman with breast cancer can have more than a thousand."

-- Marisa Weiss, M.D., president and founder, Breastcancer.org

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