Revisiting Tamoxifen’s Side-effects

August 13, 2014, was my one-year cancerversary of the day cancer was cut out of my body through bilateral mastectomy. At that milestone I began to question my decision of quitting the hormone blocker, for the simple reason that so many people in my family have had or succumbed to cancer. I began to fear my decision to stop Tamoxifen could be increasing my chances of cancer recurring.

I was happy to be alive on that anniversary, making it through the year of multiple visits to the breast surgeon, oncologist and plastic surgeon. I was content to sever the relationship with my breasts and not require chemo or radiation. But I began to fear death, a fear which I believe I absolutely, totally ignored during that year as I focused on becoming “whole” again.

I honestly never gave a thought to dying. Dying was an unacceptable outcome and I never entertained any thoughts about what life might be like for my husband and children if I were to die. I closed that path of thinking, sealed it with impenetrable, air-tight, thought-proof doors. But, for some reason, a month after my first cancerversary, on my birthday, all of my fears came rushing to the forefront of my brain and for the first time since my diagnosis, I feared death and decided that I had better quit gambling with my life and start taking my hormone blocker, Tamoxifen, again.

Tamoxifen is an estrogen blocker and should work well in preventing any recurrence of my type of breast cancer, it is the same drug that my mother took for the rest of her life when she had breast cancer. By the way, Mom lived to be 92. So, once again, I began taking Tamoxifen, convincing myself that there must have been other reasons for my side effects, which I had not documented.

TamoxRetinaDis

List of Tamoxifen side-effects
Disease of Retina of the Eye

TamoxCatrcts

List of Tamoxifen side-effects
Cataracts – Severe

June 12, 2014, I was diagnosed with a macular hole; that diagnosis was the beginning of three eye surgeries, the first, to repair the macular hole, the second, cataract surgery on that same eye – cataracts typically develop after macular hole surgery. The third surgery was to remove a cataract from the other eye. Note – cataracts are considered a “severe” side-effect of Tamoxifen. Cornea disease and blood clots of the retina are also possible severe side-effects of Tamoxifen. I can only pray that I do not suffer more eye problems as a result of taking this drug.

Feeling weak, vaginal dryness, weight gain, blood clots, stroke, high calcium in the blood, depression and high triglycerides are but a few of Tamoxifen’s other possible side-effects. Of these, I have experienced fatigue, vaginal dryness, weight gain, depression and through the results of a recent blood test, triglycerides that are off the chart!

Besides an unbelievable history of cancer in my family, there is also an outstanding incidence of stroke and heart disease. I was nearly blown into another reality when I saw the results of my recent blood test! That was it! I made my final, hopefully life-saving, decision to stop taking Tamoxifen. Weighing the odds of which disease to die from, as if I have a choice, I feared living life as a partially paralyzed stroke patient (like some relatives of mine) or a BLIND, paralyzed stroke victim.

guntoHeadI feel it’s almost like choosing my own death which is ridiculous, I mean, a plane could drop out of the sky and land on me in my backyard, or more than likely, I could die in a car wreck. But, if those things do not happen, I choose to make the most of my life in between now and my eventual, inevitable demise. I choose to NOT suffer Tamoxifen’s side-effects any longer.

I might still end up with cancer, I might still end up with heart disease, but, if it is due to my genes, that is out of my control, some day it may not be uncontrollable but for now, it is. I am supervising control insofar as lessening the chances of further and worsening incidents of Tamoxifen’s side-effects, by not taking the drug anymore.

Note to self: Remember! Mark this in memory that I have written this experience so that I do not forget “why” I have chosen to stop Tamoxifen.

Here is the Hormone Blocker Effects (in xls format, readable in Libre or Open Office Calc) document I compiled, comparing Tamoxifen’s side-effects to the other hormone blockers offered to women like me. I found Tamoxifen’s side-effects to be a shorter list than the other drugs’ side-effects.

BAR_LINE2

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent

Swoosieque:

After reading Mark’s post regarding today, Fat Tuesday, I was so impressed with the intricacy of his observations that I have to re-blog it. I am sure you will find it interesting as well.

Originally posted on The Gad About Town:

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Kampf zwischen Fasching und Fasten (“The Fight Between Carnival and Lent”) depicts today, the day before Lent. Today is an important enough day in the Christian calendar to go by a few nicknames: Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday,” “Pancake Day.”

Any day that is associated with food, whether because restrictions are about to be imposed or restrictions are to be erased for one special day, by rights ought to have as many nicknames as it can bear.

View original 864 more words

In Memorarium

Memorarium – I know I spelled it wrong but that is how I remembered hearing the name of a favorite Catholic prayer. Oh, I knew the prayer, memorized it when I was a youngster, but I always said the name wrong and that wrong memory caused a problem a few years ago. It actually caused a friend of mine to dislike me and because she thought I lied when I told another person on facebook that the Memoraire (the proper name of the prayer, oops, no it is not! The proper spelling and pronunciation is Memorare.) Anyway, it was my favorite prayer and I had prayed it daily when my son was in active duty.

My friend saw my claim and accused me of lying, reminding me that SHE taught me the prayer just a year or so ago. She also accused me of trying to impress people on Facebook. I denied her accusations angrily because it aroused the fears and feelings I endured while my son was engaged in war. How dare anyone call me a liar when I merely reported how I handled a mother’s fear for her son – through prayer.

She also was angry at me for not being there for her when her brother died the same time I was going through my mastectomies. I phoned her as soon as I had a lucid moment between pain pills. She was unavailable at her job so I left a light-hearted message, letting her know that I survived the bi-lateral mastectomy. Her e-mail reply was cold. When I pressured her as to what was wrong and why did she unfriend me on facebook, she explained that her brother died and that I should have told her when my surgery was going to be… and that she “needed” me during the time of her loss.

Even though I was taking pain pills, I was aware if and when the phone rang – no one called. Those close to me, knew to not disturb me. She didn’t know to not phone me, she didn’t know of my surgery date. So, if she really had needed my company, she could have phoned me – I’m always home and she knows that.

She added me back to her friend’s list but the coldness remained evident and her sharp wit had a way of cutting deeply. I eventually unfriended her and moved on, as I have done with others who are not true friends or honest family.

Today, a mutual friend on facebook informed me of the passing of my ex-friend’s mother over the weekend. I wrote back to the mutual friend, offering my condolences and the promise of saying a few prayers for both, my ex-friend and her mother.

We may have outgrown each other but my heart mourns for anyone who loses a loved one and my soft-heartedness wishes I could have been there to offer my support. I know very well about losing loved ones. I sometimes think that having been widowed at 33 years old, I have a tougher skin than others when it comes to recovering from grief. I had to move forward when my husband died, I had children who needed and depended upon me.

Death is no friend of mine, but sometimes, especially with the elderly or the suffering, it can be a welcome visitor to end unbearable pain.

Red Roses

R.I.P. Mrs. “O”

BAR_LINE2

Who Was That Man?

Daily Post:  Remember when you wrote down the first thought you had this morning? Great. Now write a post about it.

Back in the old days, when I took an avid interest in understanding my dreams, I kept a dream journal upon my nightstand and would faithfully scribble recollections of my dreams in it upon waking, or even in the middle of the night if a dream awakened me.  It has been decades since a dream journal laid upon my nightstand. I think it coincides with my youngest children  having grown and left the nest.

WhoWasThatManLast night however, I had an incredibly strange dream!  It qualifies for strange because of its players and  story line. Upon waking this morning, I wrote four words in my mind’s dream journal, “Who was that man?”

There was a young man in my dream.  He was gorgeous, according to my taste.  And, we spent the night together! Of course, I was young and beautiful in this dream, so it was not as if this aging old lady was robbing the cradle.  But, the dream was very sensual for these two young, beautiful persons.  I will not delve into the mechanics of their physical escapades, since that is not the point of today’s Daily Post Challenge. Besides, since it was my imagination that conjured this dream, I shall let you conjure your own story line.

TallDarkHandsomeWhen the young man untangled himself from the twisted pile of sheets  where we laid, he warmly kissed my forehead, and walked to the shower. I followed him to the doorway and watched him.

When his dripping wet, glistening, tan-skinned body stepped out of the shower and wrapped a white towel around his waist, I awakened from this dream and began to wonder what on earth is going on with my brain! Then I got out of bed and started my morning duties.

After the dogs were fed and injected with insulin and my husband left for work, I stopped by my blog, I wanted to see if the Daily Post is working any better than it was when I last participated. When I saw today’s prompt, I knew I had to write about my dream. I had to write about this sexy, dream lover! His image is burned into my mind’s eye. He was more gorgeous than any movie star, he was even better looking than the model whose photograph I added here. Yet, I do not know who the man was. Where did I come up with his handsome, masculine face? This shall be in the back of my mind all day today.

When I was young and wrote in my dream journals, I wondered what the meaning of my dreams were. Now, I just want to know….

Who was that man?

BAR_LINE2

A Twisted Perception of Wealth

I am so happy! Once I began moving and fulfilling little projects I let go for far too long, my outlook has brightened, my step has quickened and I am feeling the positivity from those whom I allow into my life.

Since I last recorded anything here, I was keeping track of my caloric intake as well as exercising 30 minutes daily until severe allergies strangled my sinuses and clogged my one ear. Life is miserable with such intense allergies, even though I take an OTC antihistamine plus Mucinex, lots of Vitamin C and ibuprofen or mobic for inflammation. Until I am able to control the excessive drainage, I remain miserable. But, once the drainage is under control, I typically return to my projects – sans MyFitnessPal because I don’t want to be on the computer for anything other than mandatory data input. I do continue to count calories even though my weight hasn’t budged; I’m still stuck at that 3 pound loss mark, but I’m happy that it hasn’t moved in the other direction.

One of the “little” projects to which I have been tending is lightening the load, you know, shredding old files, sorting through mementos from the children’s childhoods, things that I saved thinking they would enjoy reminiscing as they thumbed through old report cards, artwork, BabyShoesI even saved their first pairs of baby shoes, you know, the white shoes toddlers used to wear back in the 70’s and 80’s.

I took a photo of the Christmas stockings I made for each of them, all those years ago. The stockings were looking worn out and I stopped hanging them on the mantle since all of the boys are grown and far away. I threw the stockings in the garbage, and then I threw the baby shoes in the garbage, of course I snipped the little bells off of the laces to keep. Maybe someday they might come in handy for a craft project!

I then sorted through their old sports trophies. Geez, when I think of the thousands upon thousands of dollars that were spent on their equipment, team fees, tournaments, travel, etc… and they’re not interested in the trophies, I look at the trophies and reminisce alone. My husband and I thought we were doing the right thing in investing in their sports. We thought good lessons were to be learned – camaraderie, how to win and how to lose.

What we weren’t expecting was to foster a sense of entitlement and, for lack of a more fitting term, “uppitiness.”

Perhaps the most difficult statement to have heard from the one son who had reaped the most as a child of mine, was something he said after his daughter was born… “We’re gonna raise her right, not like I was raised.”

Ohhhh, how much deeper could a mother be cut with a knife than those words?

It comes to mind now, that when I first met his wife-to-be, she complimented me on raising a well-mannered man, she was very impressed that he had manners and was chivalrous. What happened to that well-mannered young man? Has being exposed to very wealthy persons made him rude?

I have mingled with millionaires and professors, counted doctors among my casual, everyday friends. They never treated me like I was dirt or beneath them.

I am afraid my son has a twisted sense of wealth and that is something he did not get from me. Someone else can take credit for turning my well-mannered son into someone I don’t recognize and don’t want to know.

BAR_LINE2

Shape Up Swoosieque!

In an effort to become healthy, I have committed to losing weight and using my body for more than sitting at my computer screen and eating unhealthily. Although I have tried this before, I have now found a community of like-minded souls who help encourage each other in their quest at My Fitness Pal, a place with which I am most impressed!

I can keep daily track of my caloric intake as well as my exercise value. I am also posting my daily trackers at, Shape Up Swoosieque.

Clipart Illustration of a Healthy Red Heart Running Past

WISH ME LUCK!!!

BAR_LINE2

Cataract Surgery Left Eye

Friday, December 12, 2014, I arrived at the surgery center for my left eye cataract removal. My doctor was Dr. Brian Firestone of the Dean McGee Eye Institute. I was so pleased with every step of the procedure from admitting to final check-up, everything ran like clockwork.

Each medical staff verbally reviewed and confirmed any of my allergies and what procedure would be performed. The actual surgery was absolutely painless, unlike my previous cataract surgery when I could feel a sensation of tugging and was in pain on the drive home. Not this time. I was in no pain until the next morning when the extent of pain in my eye was limited to a sensation of being sore.

DbleVisionMy vision was cloudy for the first day and at my post-op visit, five hours after surgery, I was still under the influence of the relaxing “anesthesia” and my left eye was out of alignment with my right eye. I instantly became nauseated when the nurse removed the bandage and I opened my eye. A short while later, when my doctor came in to assess my condition and pressure, I told him of my concern and he explained that my eye was not only numbed prior to surgery, but paralyzed – the cause of dis-alignment and double-vision.

CntrlVsnDstgrtn

© Swoosieque
Example of central vision distortion after macular hole recovery

By Sunday, my vision was all clear and in alignment with my right eye, the blurriness I experienced from the cataract is gone and my vision, at least in my left eye, is back to its wonderful 20/20 status. My right eye however, will forever have the central vision distortion from the macular hole. The image above is an example of the central vision distortion through that eye. As my eye moves, so does the distortion, making it difficult to read. I am not complaining though, I am intensely thankful to Dr. Lance Scott for saving me from complete blindness in that eye.

Life is good!

BAR_LINE2