After beating cancer, tough side effects linger

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is tough enough. Going through treatments is even tougher. But what many women don't learn until long after treatment ends, is that some of the side effects don't.

Marse Walsh has side effects of cancer treatment you probably wouldn't notice unless you really stopped to look.  A scar on her wrist, red patches on her skin, a little eye irritation -- all related to her treatments for breast cancer.

"I was diagnosed in December of 2002, right before the holidays. I was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer.  I had multiple tumors and lymph node involvement."

Marse had surgery, went through chemotherapy, and took a lot of medication -- Tamoxifen and Aramidex -- for seven years.  She thinks chemo leached calcium out of her body.

"As soon as I finished chemo, within the year, I cracked five teeth and had to get work done around that. Then I broke two ribs. "

She also says she broke her wrist in four places.

Baycare oncologist Dr.  Mosharraf Hossain says osteoporosis is just one of the many side effects of chemo that lasts long after the treatment ends. "One is what we call chemo brain -- problems with memory and emotional balance.”

Due to surgery, Marse says she has limited use of her left arm, she's lost feeing in her upper back, and she suffers skin rashes that itch all over her body. But the doctor says perhaps the biggest side effect is the emotional trauma.

"I have seen in my practice a lot of women with breast cancer with sexual side effects after completing chemo, radiation and the hormone therapy.  We didn't talk about it in the past.  But now we see it’s a common side effect and were trying to address these issues."

Marse wishes she would have known about potential side effects that linger long after the treatments stop. And she has made it her mission to arm cancer patients with information.


The FOX 13 Care Force is teaming up with the American Cancer Society to Make Strides Against Breast Cancer, and you can join in.  The upcoming Making Strides kickoff parties will help participants form teams for the walks and become successful leaders.

Here's what you need to know to make your reservation ahead of the kickoff parties:

-Pinellas kickoff: August 17, Vinoy Golf Club, 6 p.m.
Reservation: Makingstrideswalk.Org/pinellasfl

-Hillsborough kickoff: August 24, Straz Center, 6 p.m.
Reservation: Makingstrideswalk.Org/tampafl

-Pasco kickoff: August 24, Hilton Gardens Inn Suncoast Parkway, Lutz, 6 p.m.
Reservation: Makingstrideswalk.Org/pascofl

-Polk kickoff: August 29, Lakeland TV Studio B, 202 N. Massachusetts Ave., 6 p.m.
Reservation: Makingstrideswalk.Org/polkfl

The Making Strides walks take place in October, which is breast cancer awareness month. Join FOX 13's Linda Hurtado, Chris Cato, and Ken Suarez at participating events.

-Pinellas: Saturday, October 14 - Vinoy Park - Walk 9 a.m.

-Pasco: Saturday, October 14 - The Shops at Wiregrass - Walk 9 a.m.

-Polk: Saturday, October 14 - Polk -Lake Mirror - Walk 9 a.m.

-Hillsborough: Saturday, October 28 - Amalie Arena - Walk 9 a.m.

LINK: For more information about Making Strides events near you