Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tamoxifen has my head spinning

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Current mood:  Scared


So yesterday was my 6 month Oncology Checkup.  I loathe my 6 month checkups.  Not at that fact that I have to see the Dr. but at the fact that I have to step back in time and relive my cancer all over again. 

Yesterday was particularly fun in the fact that I had to once again have a conversation about taking Tamoxifen....

My cancer was ER/PR+ and Her2+.  I took precautions against the Her2+ part of my cancer and took a drug called Herceptin every 3 weeks for a year via an IV.  I did not experience any side affects with this drug.   As for the ER/PR+ part of my cancer, I was told I should take a drug called Tamoxifen for 5 years.  It would help to prevent my breast cancer from coming back.

Now keep in mind, I had a bi-lateral mastectomy so I felt like I was pretty safe in the fact that my breast cancer wouldn't return considering I didn't have breast tissue anymore.  Of course the Dr is going to say....we can't guarantee that we got ALL the cancer cells, there maybe one or two left behind.  Nothing in life is a guarantee, right?  That's what I was thinking....

After many heated discussions with my Oncologist back home in CT, she eventually wore me down and I started taking the tamoxifen.  The hot flashes were unbearable.  I took it for almost 2 years and then said....NO MORE! 

Well, here I am in Florida 5+ years later having that same heated discussion with my new Oncologist.  She's so concerned about how aggressive my cancer was she asked me if I was willing to have my ovaries removed.  Apparently the Estrogen that my body is still producing is like a ticking time bomb for me.  I have to admit, I was completely caught off guard by the question.  I once again brought up the fact that I had a bi-lateral mastectomy and didn't understand why I needed to take a drug to help prevent the breast cancer from returning since I had no breasts.  My Oncologists response was that she was concerned that we really don't know if the cancer spread past my lymph nodes and that tamoxifen also prevents metastatic breast cancer. 

Now she had my attention! 

Metastatic Breast Cancer is every Breast Cancer Survivor's worst nightmare and words you never want to hear.

We also discussed how tamoxifen is now showing better results in women that take it for 10 years instead of the initial 5 year recommendation.  I remember hearing about that on the news a while back.  I quickly said to her, you want me to take it for 10 years and her response to me was....I just want you to start taking it and we will determine for how long later. 

So I left the the Cancer Center with tears in my eyes and 2 prescriptions in my hand.  One for tamoxifen and one to prevent hot flashes.  The question was...was I going to get them filled and if I did, was I going to start taking them.

I did get them filled and...

After doing research on the "hot flash" med, which is also a drug used for depression and anxiety.  I decided to wait and see if I would have the same reaction to the tamoxifen as I did 5+ years ago.  I hate taking drugs, if I really don't need them and the warning on the label was pretty scary....call Dr if you experience depression, sadness or fear.  Really?  I think I'll wait and see if the hot flashes come first.

And after staring at the little white pill called tamoxifen this morning for what seemed to be forever (5 minutes) I picked it up and put in my mouth and swallowed some orange juice.

Day 1 is over!

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