Breast Cancer and Type 1 Diabetes

Hey there TuDiabetes!

I am going on my second year as a Type 1 Diabetic. Diagnosed when I was 32, now at the old age of 34, I now have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I’m very lucky in the fact that the cancer is localized and I’m going to have a lumpectomy in the next few weeks followed by chemo and radiation.

My reason to start this discussion is to see if there are any other TuDiabetics out there who have undergone surgery and chemo. I currently control my blood sugar with consistent monitoring, exercise and a minimed pump. Here are just some thoughts that are running through my head:

  1. Can you wear your pump through surgery?

  2. How did the chemo effect your eating habits? Blood sugars levels?

  3. Do the chemo meds raise blood sugar?

  4. Did you experience in extreme Highs or Lows?

I don’t meet with the onocologist for a few weeks, so I’m hoping (praying) that he/she has worked with a diabetic (preferrably a Type 1, sorry Type 2s) and will be able to answer some of my questions.

Of course, I’ve called my Endo but have not heard back as of yet. Again, the doctors can only tell you so much. I would really prefer to hear from you the ones who deal with this diease everyday.

Would love to hear from you!

Thanks! Mel

I cannot share much in the way of the impact of chemo on BG levels. I found this discussion on DiabetesDaily where some of the members there share their insights about wearing a pump during surgery:

We will have you in our thoughts, amiga!!

My last surgery I was on the pump. I was allowed to wear the pump up until pre op room and then a nurse placed it back on me immediately after surgery. I have never had to expereince chemo so I have no idea how chemo would affect blood sugars.

1-It depends on the duration of surgery and time to recovery,the anathetist openion is important,I think
2- Chemo may raise blood glucose even in non diabetics,and it can cause nausia during first days which may affect appetite

Having a pump will be very good to manage these changes during treatment

( from my experience with dealing with children on chemotheray)

Hey there, I am a Type 1 diabetic since youth and this is my 3rd go with cancer. The Chemotherapy does raise your bg, the biggest problem over all though is the nausea and unwillingness to eat. I foung myself using Glucagon quite often during my second time through (when I was in highschool). The thing I can reccomend is some of the different diabetic supplement drinks (like Glucerna) keep em’ on hand as well as something bland like the really bland Granola bars. There are also great advances in treatment for nausea and vomiting these days, although in all honesty as a patient I can tell you sometimes that there just isn’t any fixing it. Remember that sometimes you are going to have a rough day but that there is just nothing you can do about it. Be VERY VERY forgiving of your bg readings and allow for goof ups. Also WEAR YOUR DIABETIC ID/BRACELET ALL THE TIME during chemo/radio therapies. A lot of times it’s in the chart but lets say you are in radiology and you have had n/v (nausea/vomiting) and a rough time and you need sugar/insulin if you have the id on the radiology tech will have a better idea of what they can do to help.

A treatment team meeting is also important. Getting your Endocrenologist to talk with your oncologist and your PCP is very VERY important. If it is no more than a conference call or a copy of the charts and all new orders etc. When you can get every one on the same page then you can get a jump start on any potential problems that may arise.

Also, hit me up for any pointers if I can help and here is to a rapid recovery and remission for you!

** If God brought you to it… he’ll bring you through it!**

Thank you so much for your information. This is my first round with cancer and I’m ready to fight. I have spoken to my Endo today about getting me a Continuous Glucose monitor to go along with my pump so I can have a steady reading while going through chemo. Especially if i’m not feeling like pricking my finger every 5 minutes.

Again appreciate your feedback. Glad to here you have been able to beat your battles with cancer! I’ll stay in touch!

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Hi Mel,

I do not have personal experience with this, but am a nursing student and work on a unit where we do chemotherapy. I will ask around a bit among the chemo nurses and oncologist to see what I can find out…I’ll keep you posted.

And I’ll be thinking of you as you undergo this challenging and life changing treatment.



I had another thought:

As a soon-to-be nurse with some years experience working in health care, I regularly see mediocre understanding and management of diabetes by non-specialist doctors, and nursing staff (especially type 1). It is not for lack of caring, but most people just don’t know the intricacies of type 1 diabetes management, and it is important to have clear collaboration and communication about your needs!

I personally feel that it is very important to ask someone to be with you as much as possible to advocate for you and your diabetes management while you are in the hospital. Teach a friend or relative about your diabetes management so that they can be there with you and help out.

I also think that a “team meeting”, as bobby recommended is a great idea! Get all the doctors on the same page, and ask your endocrinologist to be available and consult on your diabetes treatment while you are in the hospital.

Best of luck!

Hi Me!

I was Diagnosed with Diabetes in 1976, started on Insulin in 1991 and Breast Cancer 9 years ago. Had a lumpectomy, went through 6 weeks of radiation and was on oral chemo meds from time of Diagnosis. I have one more year of oral medication to complete a total of ten years by next year. Cann’t say the meds. gave me highs or lows. May problem was portion size of foods and the wrong Carbohydrates I ate. Last year I started with Tu and hooked up with Dr. Berstein’s Diabetic Solution Group. My A1c at that time was 7.8 to 8.0% and ate close to 200 Carbs a day. Now my A1c is 6.5 and I am eating 90 to 110 Carbs. a day. All this has dropped my insulin units and shed the weight. Since being on oral chemo meds I can see no increase in Bg. highs or lows and last mamo was clear.

I still believe that my mental acceptance of cancer and my faith has done more for me than the meds. How you handle yourself and others makes one big difference. I was not on the pump during surgery, did not start with a pump until a year later.

Need any help or encouragement…look me up.
Keep the spirit and good luck.


Sorry to hear about the dx, that really sucks. Do you have your markers back yet from your biopsy (Her2, ER, PR)? That will dramatically change your chemo or hormonal therapy options in the adjuvant. There has been a lot of data recently regarding new drugs and how you can avoid some of the toxicity with newer regiments depending on your marker status. Hope everything goes well.


With your age you should insist on being tested for germ line BRCA 1/2 mutations, especially if your markers come back “triple negative”. If you are, there are a ton of clinical trials with PARP inhibitors which are showing astounding activity in the relapsed setting. I know they have moved at least 2 of them into trials in the neo-adjuvant, upfront and adjuvant settings.

Thank you for your post! I am currently done with treatment and in my third year of remission!!! Looking forward to my 5 year mark!!!

Glad to hear you came through your cancer with good results too! Here’s to remission!!!


I had surgery in 1984 …modified mastectomy ; diagnosed with diabetes in late 1983 …to top it off, got married in Feb 1985 , while receiving radiation …my happy story : I am here to tell …May 19, 2011 …if you like to visit my Tu page , you will notice some pictures of my " fat " right arm …no big deal