Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Wednesday, 8 December 2004

I switched my breast cancer drug

Image of Linda
Linda switched treatments because of side effects

Doctors believe a new drug called anastrozole could improve survival for some breast cancer patients beyond the current gold standard tamoxifen. A woman shares her experience of these drugs.

Linda Siddons was 37 when she found a lump in one of her breasts that turned out to be cancer.

Six years on, she says she is thankful that there were treatment options she could chose from that allowed her to carry on living her life to the full.

"I was lucky to be given different options. It's not just walloping you on everything.

"They look at what can be done for the best results with the least side effects, which is brilliant," she said.

I'm just grateful that I had different options
Linda, who was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago
CPS:LINK HREF="" ID="4075205" STYLE="rightarrow">Breast cancer treatment advance

When Linda was diagnosed in 1998 she had the breast cancerous lump surgically removed.

At that time she did not need any other treatment because although the tumour was quite aggressive, it had not spread anywhere.

But in 2000, the cancer had returned in the same breast.

"I was devastated.

"That year I was turning 40 and I had decided to do a sponsored trek in Nepal for a cancer charity."

She had a mastectomy followed by radiotherapy.

Her tumour was the type that responds to hormone treatment, so she was also offered the options of chemotherapy or hormonal drugs.

Tailoring treatment

"I decided I wanted to go onto the hormone therapy.

"Chemotherapy is the shorter option, but it is toxic and has side effects.

"For me, it was a much better option to go on tamoxifen.

"My three children were still very young and I wanted to keep life as normal as possible. I thought it would be far less stressful for me and them.

"It was an easy choice to make really. Plus, I would not have been able to go on the trek if I had just finished a course of chemotherapy.

"My immune system would have been at rock bottom."

Everyone is different. Look at the options.
Linda advises anyone with breast cancer to speak with their doctors about which treatments are best for them

Linda took the tamoxifen for three years. She experienced some side effects that although not serious, affected her quality of life.

"I started not tolerating it so well. I had bad hot flushes and night sweats that woke me up.

"It was draining and embarrassing.

"The worst was when I was out and about shopping. If I went from the cold environment into the warm I would get sweats.

"My face would be really red and I had globules of moisture on my top lip.

"I used to think people would think I had been shoplifting because I looked so guilty sweating buckets! I felt very self-conscious."

She said her breast surgeon suggested she might want to try a newer hormonal treatment called anastrozole.

She switched drugs and has been on it now for a year and a half.

"I have not had a night sweat since and I have slept through which is a massive bonus."

In another six months she will stop taking medication for her breast cancer because her doctors feel it is unnecessary and any side effects would outweigh any benefits .

She said she is looking forward to this but is also a little bit anxious.

"In some ways it will be nice to take a step back from some of the side effects, but in other ways I feel a bit nervous because it's like a safety blanket.

"I'm just grateful that I had different options.

"It's brilliant that advances are being made all the time.

"The more options there are for people then the more they can tailor treatment to get the cancer with the least side effects."

She said advised anyone with breast cancer to speak with their doctors about which treatments would be best for them.

"Everyone is different. Look at the options."



SEE ALSO
Advance in breast cancer treatment
08 Dec 04 |  Health
Breast cancer
10 Jul 09 |  Health

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