Every few months, I am reminded that I am a cancer survivor, when I have to go into the doctor’s office for another dreaded appointment. For all the thriving women out there, you can relate. I am talking about blood tests, MRI’s, uterine monitoring, etc. These are all routine exams that come with the territory. Also, with that comes the prescribed cancer drugs, Tamoxifen for pre-menapausal women and Letrozole for post menopausal women including all their side effects.
Tamoxifen was a very difficult drug for me to take after my first round with breast cancer. I was only 42 years old and my body still wanted estrogen. Tamoxifen is an estrogen blocker and forces menopause. The drug caused many side effects such as achey joints, depression and weight gain and constant monitoring of my uterine lining for uterine cancer. I was miserable, and all those uterine biopsies HURT!!!!!
My second round with cancer was at age 47. I was again put on Tamoxifen for almost two years, and it wasn’t as bad this time around, maybe because my body was using less estrogen at my older age. Then it was official, I was declared officially post-menopausal after one year of no periods at the age of 50. Now was the time to switch to a new drug called Letrozole. There is a long list of side effects from Letrozole such as trouble swallowing, urinary tract infections and the biggest effect being high risk for bone density loss, commonly known as Osteoporosis.
My doctor gave me the orders for a bone scan to create a baseline. I tucked that order into my purse and off I went, dreading to make the call for the appointment. I held off for two months and realized it was almost time to visit my oncologist for the regular 3-month blood test. She would not be happy. So, I made the call and set up the appointment. I think I was mostly worried that it was going to be one of those tests where I had to drink something awful, or have an IV of some fluid running through my veins. Fortunately, I was told this was an easy test. It would take less than 15 minutes and I didn’t even need to undress. I just had to lie on the table for a few minutes and let the machine pass over my hips. Wow..I wish all the tests were this easy!
I guess what I am saying in this message, is that breast cancer is not just a one-time surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and it’s over. It is definitely far from over. It will be never-ending. I, like other thriving women out there face the fear with each doctor visit, that the cancer might come back, or that now we have some other condition caused by the drugs we need to take. This month, I am featuring an article on Osteoporosis. Hopefully, I can do my best to prevent it, by doing regular weight training, eating healthy and taking Calcium and Vitamin D. I hope this article is informative to all.
Stay Strong & Fight!