Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Where's My Estrogen and Where's My Coffee?

Now that I've finished the part of my cancer treatment designed to kill that bitch, I've graduated to the next phase to prevent it from coming back.

I started Tamoxifen today, filled my prescription at my local grocery store, and will be taking one pill daily each morning, for the next three to five years.  With my prescription plan, the cost for a month is a $10 copay.

Tamoxifen has been used for over 25 years to fight tumor growth and recurrence in women diagnosed with breast cancer.  How does it work?  Some types of breast cancer (like mine) are hormone positive, meaning the cancer cells need estrogen as fuel.  Tamoxifen blocks the use of estrogen by those cells, basically shutting down the factory that allowed my cancer to grow and multiply and spread.

Amongst my Sisters, the drug is commonly referred to as "the devil pill" because of its side effects.  Yikes.

The most common are menopause-like symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, leg cramps, and joint pain.  There are some risks associated with Tamoxifen, including blood clots, stroke, heart disease, uterine cancer and cataracts.  It is believed though that the benefits for breast cancer patients far outweigh the risks.

Chemo threw me into menopause, and not long after my last period ended several months ago, I started to feel the effects.  The changes were dramatic.  I started experiencing hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, and lots of melancholy.

I have previously mentioned I take a supplement called Sam-e (Sammy).  I started because I heard it helped with neuropathy.  It didn't do much for mine, but the effects on my mood and uber menopausal symptoms have been impressive.  It only took about two weeks to notice a substantial difference.  Since starting Sammy several months ago, I haven't had a hot flash since, my moods are balanced, and I have not experienced the extreme PMS-like melancholy and irritability that were dogging me.

I take two 200 mg Sammy pills each day, in the morning, about 30 minutes before breakfast, as recommended.  It is safe to take a larger dose, which I am considering now that I've started Tamoxifen.

I highly recommend Sam-e; it's made by several different companies but I like Nature made products.  Here's the link for you.

I've recommended it to a couple of friends, who also had the same positive, dramatic results.  I purchase mine at Costco, but it's even available at Target and CVS.

My radiated sites are still causing discomfort, some pain, and lots of burning and itching.  I am moisturizing frequently with the Lindi cream I was given as a sample, and lots of Aquaphor.  I'm also taking some ibuprofen.  My arm pit really bothers me, as well as a small area above my nipple on Flopsy, and a small patch on my neck.  All of these areas are red, burning, itchy and tender.  Flopsy's nipple is beginning to get some color back, not quite rosy but getting there slowly.

There's just one more thing I have to confess is now part of my morning routine.  I am absolutely addicted to my new Keurig coffee maker.  You know, the brewer that uses K-cups to make one delicious cup of coffee, hot tea, or cocoa at a time.  Oh man.  I love that thing.  I have always enjoyed coffee but didn't drink much, not wanting to make a whole pot when I was the only one in the house having some.  This little machine is great, and it's fun trying all the flavors.  It's so easy and you don't have to deal with all the mess of coffee grounds and filters.  I love it!

Sure feels great to be on the flip side of my cancer treatment.  You have no idea.  Well, unless you are part of my sorority, and in that case Sista, I am preaching to the choir.

Whichever you are,
part of the choir or not,
thanks for coming,
thanks for listening,
and thanks for continuing this journey with me.

Tomorrow is show and tell day here on the blog, all about the new walking shoes I got.

They are the bomb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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