The Tamoxifen Tango

Tamoxifen, the double-edged sword… one edge reducing the risk of recurrence of the breast cancer by up to 50% (5 year intake)… the other edge, a more clandestine edge… delivering a host of side-effects which greatly vary depending upon the person.

So far, I’ve ‘enjoyed’ reliving my hot flashes again, being terrified that I developed a blood clot in my lower leg (all was ok), and for the past 2 weeks, low back pain which had me bent over like an old lady when moving from seated to standing position.  This one has prevented me from getting in the kayak, which bums me out.

That said, I’m making good use of my time in re-building flexibility, strength and endurance… amazing how 3 months and surgery robs you of so much….

So the big concern while on Tamoxifen is for blood clots and uterine cancer.  No joke… prevent breast cancer but 2 out of 1,000 women will develop uterine cancer.  So here’s my plan.  I intend to get a ‘baseline’ of uterine size and ultrasound to determine lining thickness on Tuesday at the ob-gyn (or at least start that ball rolling).  Then maybe semi-annual checks if she agrees.  I have a family history of uterine fibroid tumors..both my mom, my identical twin sister and I have or have had them.  My mom (now deceased) had a hysterectomy.  My sister had a myomectomy.  I still have mine which started shrinking post-menopause…but now that I’m tamoxifen..who knows.

I have found this very good report on uterine cancer tamoxifen studies and recommendations which I share with you.  You are your own best advocate…whether in the hospital or out of the hospital.  You know your body…. make sure you have the physicians who can help you monitor your health.  It recommends endovaginal sonography with color Doppler imaging, and all women with breast cancer, whether or not they are receiving tamoxifen, should be encouraged to undergo annual gynecologic evaluation, which should include endometrial sampling in the presence of abnormal vaginal bleeding.

On a positive note, I probably have recovered about 98% of my flexibility bi-laterally which is awesome.  I’ve been developing my own set of exercises to break scar tissue.  They are aggressive, and while I do them very carefully to avoid injuring another body part like shoulders, they do work well, and its a good feeling to recover!

A good friend of mine who is also going through breast cancer talked about renewal.  Another friend calls it her ‘new normal’.  Whatever you call healing, it is a composition of forgiveness, patience, dedication, positive energy and hope for the future.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Helene Jeanette
    Nov 27, 2011 @ 19:44:58

    You are an AMAZING woman!!!


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