I started my tamoxifen today The pill that I will take daily for five years to kill the estrogen in my body that feeds the cancer. In case some of you are confused, my particular cancer is fed by 2 different receptors –estrogen AND the her2 protein– so I need two different treatments simultaneously. The herceptin which is infused every 3rd week for a year, battles the her2/neu aspect of my cancer, and the tamoxifen suppresses the estrogen in my body to starve the cancer of that aspect. Understand? Good. I know it’s confusing, even for me who thinks about it daily.
The tamoxifen can cause some unpleasant side effects. It’s a chemically induced menopause which I guess is more harrowing than regular menopause. I don’t know yet, to me menopause sucks no matter how you get there. I already have horrible hot flashes –10 to 15 daily, so hopefully the ones caused by the tamoxifen will go unnoticed. There are other things, like weight gain and fatigue that I will fight with all my energy. I am already up 10 pounds from the chemo and damned if I am going to watch the scale rise even higher.
I understand that this medication can also cause leg cramps but I have just been reading the most fascinating information on the web. It appears that if you place an unwrapped bar of soap between the sheets at the bottom of your bed, leg cramps virtually disappear. Seriously, Google it. I can’t wait to try it I have been having sore legs and feet every morning from a combination of chemo, age and running so I am certainly going to try this.
There are also a host of scarier side effects like vision damage,stroke and blood clots that I will choose at this time to not think about. After all, the percentages are low…hmmm where have I heard that before?
I saw my regular doctor today. The one I used to see yearly before this whole cancer business began It’s funny, I used to think she was so professional and “doctorly” but now that I have been visiting Dana Farber and the Brigham so often, my local doctor seemed kind of “down homey”. It’s like shopping in Nordstrom all year and then running into Old Navy to get a pair of jeans. It wasn’t bad though, it was just like I felt more at ease with her; less like she was on a pedestal. So while I was there I asked for a test for ovarian cancer. I knew there was a test available but you had to ask for it –so I did. Not only did I get the blood test, I am getting an ultrasound on Tuesday. How’s that for excellent down home country doctoring. I like it! Well, I liked it until I found out that it was an ‘internal’ ultrasound. OH. OW. Maybe I was being too hasty in my pursuit of a cancer-free life..too late, it’s booked.
On another note, not to alarm anyone but on Friday before I went swimming at the Y, I noticed a lump under my arm on the same side that I had my mastectomy. It is right below the scar from where they took out the lymph nodes. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t quite nervous about this, but I have an appointment with Dr. Christian on Wednesday for a possible biopsy. Here we go again. It seems that every time I start to plan my Craft Fair at Barrows, an annoying lump shows up on my body. It could be many things so I will try not to project until I see Dr. Christian. The good news is that I get to see Dr. Christian again. I have missed him. I think I have a slight fatherly crush on him..you know…in a Johnny Carson kind of way.
Life is just different now. Each ache, pain, bump,test and new medication is going to lead to anxiety for a long time to come. I am going to have to get used to it. I have learned to be far more proactive in my health now. I will not wait when I feel strange, I will ask for tests and call the doctor. This is something that I didn’t do before cancer (BC). So this is a good thing. May I suggest that aproach to all my healthy friends who are reading this? Don’t wait for something bad to happen to you…take care of yourselves now.