Each night before I go to bed, I go through a series of tasks. I brush my teeth, lay out my work out clothes for the morning class, cuddle with my dog and kiss Chip goodnight- that kind of thing. For the past five years I have taken Tamoxifen every night as a preventative and to offer additional protection against recurring breast cancer. I am a high risk patient and this regiment has been proven to be effective. According to the website breastcancer.org, Tamoxifen can:
- reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back by 40% to 50% in postmenopausal women and by 30% to 50% in premenopausal women
- reduce the risk of a new cancer developing in the other breast by about 50%
- slow or stop the growth or advanced (metastatic) hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer in both pre- and postmenopausal women
- lower breast cancer risk in women who have a higher-than-average risk of disease but have not been diagnosed
Tonight, for the last time I will take my Tamoxifen pill ending a five year regiment. I trust that I will be afforded the protections listed above. Many of my friends celebrated their last chemo or radiation appointments and while this pales in comparison, I am none-the-less happy to end it. Believe it or not, that daily pill reminded me of the reason I needed to take it bringing the issue right to the forefront each and every night. The absence of Tamoxifen will not change the recurring thoughts but it may lessen the frequency.
So I say good-bye to hot flashes, irritability (ha) and bloating/weight gain. At least now if any of those three factors rear their ugly heads, I will need to find a new reason why.
To my high school classmates, co-workers and close friends still going through this process, be strong, stay healthy and positive. These treatments and prescriptions living within your day-to-day life are there to help you, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. And if all else fails pour a nice glass of wine or a hot cup of Death Wish Coffee, how ironic, and toast yourself. You’re still here!