And We Close The Chapter on Tamoxifen…Farewell

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I know I’ve devoted a great deal of time and space these past few weeks to the agonizing decision of whether or not to take the hormone blocker Tamoxifen as the final piece of my breast cancer treatment. Frankly, I’m as tired of thinking about it as you are of reading it, so you’ll be glad to know that something happened yesterday that allowed me to put the subject to rest.

I was sitting at my kitchen table, browsing through some blog posts and dreading my afternoon oncology appointment with every bone in my body. I had already postponed the appointment for 2 weeks because I was not looking forward to being scolded about the Tamoxifen…again. Now, scold is a harsh word when it comes to my doctor. He is about as threatening as a teddy bear wrapped in velvet sitting on clouds.

No, I think I was really dreading….the look. You know the one. Like your favorite grandparent who catches you doing something wrong and doesn’t spank you. That would be too easy. Instead, they sit you down, their head hanging with the weight of their disappointment, and tell you that they never would have expected this of you…and it hurts them that you would do such a thing. By the end of the lecture, you feel like the lowest of the low, and you’ll do anything to get back in their good graces.

That’s how I felt after our last appointment. I came in ready to fight, ready to bring in research and statistics to back my argument. And I left in a haze of confusion and shame. I even went to the drugstore and filled the prescription. I couldn’t bear to let Dr. A down. He cares so much; it’s palpable.

So, back to yesterday. I hopped over to one of my absolute favorite blogs, chrisbeatcancer.com. He was diagnosed at 26 with Stage 3 colon cancer and refused chemo and radiation, choosing to heal himself through nutrition. He is now an eleven year survivor who lectures around the country and offers much of his wisdom for free on his site. I’ve visited many times before, but this video struck a chord in me for some reason.

I’ve been somewhat beaten down by the medical establishment over the past year, and I’ve started to compromise my core beliefs. Namely, The belief that our bodies are designed to express health, not sickness. Yes, there are genetic aberrations, environmental insults, etc. that challenge us, but this is not destiny. We can radically transform the terrain inside the body by the way we treat ourselves. Proper nutrition, sleep, stress management, and healthy relationships are essential to disease prevention.

Chris is a very articulate, warm person who expresses these ideals perfectly. I am in no way against doctors or medicine when it is necessary, but the whole “fear culture” surrounding cancer puts so much pressure on patients to “go with the flow” or face dire consequences. Take Tamoxifen, for example. In my case, the statistics show that I have a 12% reduction in recurrence over the next 10 years if I take the drug. The mortality reduction is about half that.

For these slight statistical improvements, I will endure hot flashes, night sweats, depression, fatigue, joint pains, weight gain, and the possibility of aggressive uterine cancer, blood clots, and cataracts, or worse. There are very, very few people who have pleasant tales to share about this drug. And the kicker is.. the research will show that Tamoxifen is not curing cancer, but rather putting it to sleep. And it almost always finds a way to get around this “trance” eventually.

So..yesterday I had what could almost be described as a revelation. I found my convictions once again and decided that my body is not suffering from a Tamoxifen deficiency. I plan to do a hard core re-examination of my life and change the things that need changing. I went in to the doctor’s office, ready to defend my decision once again. Dr. A must have seen the look of determination in my eyes. He asked if I was taking the Tamoxifen. When I explained why I wasn’t, he simply looked at me and said, “Ok.”

I think that in a way he knows he is asking a lot of women, but he feels that it is his duty to try. I wouldn’t be surprised if he even has a sliver of doubt about the standard treatment in his most private moments. As for me, the Tamoxifen train has left the station, and I’m at peace as I wave goodbye.

 

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15 thoughts on “And We Close The Chapter on Tamoxifen…Farewell

  1. Doesn’t it feel great to finally come to terms with it?!?! I haven’t regretted my decision one bit, for all the reasons you mention. Congrats on getting to the right answer for you. It will be a turning point for you. As you alluded, I have had a few doctors who have said to me “if I was in your shoes, I would make the same decision”. Enjoy your new peace of mind!

  2. Great to hear that you are at peace with your decision Lisa. “…the train has left the station” – very fitting for this week’s Photo Challenge: On the Move. All you need is the photo to go with it. Best wishes, as always…Andrew 🙂

  3. My hormone receptors were 100% so tamoxifen was a no brainier for me. Some women tolerate the drug quite well. I have not been one of them, medically induced menopause has been a rollercoaster ride for sure.

    I completely respect your choice. It is a brave, conscious act. The world needs more brave, conscious individuals.

    Fight on sister. I’m right behind you.

  4. Reblogged this on Tripping over horses and commented:
    This is a piece from a blogger friend who has made the decision to forgo Tamoxifen. Personally, tamoxifen has been a bitch and I sometimes wonder if that 12% chance of reoccurrence was worth it.
    And so I submit this to you Trippers. Tell me about your experience, what decisions have you made. Would you have done differently?

  5. I’m glad you’ve been able to make your decision without chastisement from the Dr. Ultimately we have to live in these bodies, not them, and when weighing the risks the improvement seems tiny compared to the side effects which can be very difficult indeed. Good on you for following your intuition/heart/own mind.

    • Thank you:) I struggled for so long with the decision. I hope I’m doing the right thing. But, ultimately, instant menopause is enough of a struggle without adding drug side effects and damage.

  6. Hi, I just found your blog and I’m struggling with the Tamoxifen debate… I’ve never felt at peace about taking it and now it’s the visits with the doc and the discussions… I’m just checking int o see how you are doing and how you are feeling? What you are doing naturally, instead of using Tamoxifen?

    • Hi Alana. I’m doing really well. Today marks exactly 3 years since my diagnosis. I know it’s a really tough decision, but what the doctor was telling me about side effects didn’t match what I was hearing from real people. And I read a lot about the cancer coming back more aggressively in spite of the meds. Plus the possibility of new cancers, like uterine cancer.
      I took DIM, a natural estrogen detoxifier. I also ate tons of veggies, especially broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. Cleansing your liver is critical so it can do its job of detoxifying estrogen. Find a highly rated natural liver cleanse, but wait about 3 months if you’ve had chemo and rads. I use Standard Process products.
      Also, keep the sugar and starchy carbs way down. Cancer loves high insulin from carbs. Research the “pegan” diet.
      I also use vaginal estriol. There’s an article about it on my blog. You can search the term estrogen on there.
      Good luck with your decision. If you have more questions, I’m happy to help.

  7. Thank you for sharing this! I’m struggling with decision right now and would love to hear how you’ve been doing – please email me!

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