Monday, April 14, 2014

Think Quick!

It's been a little quiet around here.

A very persistent headcold laid us all low for a couple of weeks and then a bout of gastro...I've been lacking the motivation to blog about anything.

I tried to write a few times but always drew a blank. Hurrah for writer's block lifting.

 

I had a check up with my Oncologist last week.

Can't say that it was a lovely visit.

 

There was talk of permanently turning off my ovaries. A choice between an injection once a month for several years (you don't qualify for PBS because you're not terminal but don't worry it only costs hundreds, not thousands of dollars per jab)...or...removal via laparoscopic surgery.

 

The studies are years off being able to report real, quantatative outcomes. They can't say just how much of an advantage this aggressive kind of treatment could give me. Putting my body into permanent menopause at age 37 is fraught with side affects. The main one being the loss of bone density. Not thrilled with the idea of brittle bones breaking when I hit late middle age. Throw in the hideous hot flushes, insomnia, loss of libido, mood swings and affected memory that I experienced when chemo put me in temporary menopause and you've got a recipe for No Thanks, I'll Pass!

 

It was a bit of a shock to be addressing this because at my last visit six months ago, my oncologist talked those options down and we'd agreed that Tamoxifen was the best course of action to suppress the estrogen that my hormone receptor positive cancer feeds on. I'm young, premenopausal and the cancer got to only one lymph node. Had my cancer spread further then yes, it would be a reasonable consideration. So why change tactic now?

 

The defeatist in me got really upset. I felt sideswiped...here are some really shite choices that will most certainly reduce your quality of life and we can't tell you if you'll get any substantial benefit but we'll sow the seed of doubt that if you don't say yes, you could be increasing the risk of cancer returning...so, what'll be?

The pressure to make an on the spot decision has always been an emotional struggle for me. I've had to make many during the course of the last 15 months and each time it's been a battle to sort out the facts from the fear.

With my oncologist and her resident both looking at me in anticipation for an answer, I decided to stick with Tamoxifen for the next ten years. I didn't think the benefits of permanently switching off my ovaries outweighed the drawbacks. Having a week to think it over, I'm comfortable with my decision.

 

I know that cancer is really just a game of odds. There is no absolute certainty and my oncologist is doing the best she can with the information she has. While I want to do what I can to stop cancer raising its ugly head again, I need to balance my treatment with consideration for quality of life.

I'm still waiting for Calvary to book me in for my other mastectomy. It bothered me that I felt I had to justify my decision to remove my healthy breast to my oncologist while she was simultaneously asking me to remove my ovaries...both being preventative measures. The mastectomy doesn't hold the same kind of risk but I feel it will give me peace of mind. I've wanted it gone since my scare in January but at my oncology appointment I was doubting my decision. I know that she just wanted to ensure that I was clear as to why I wanted it done. I get that. Still...I didn't appreciate another seed of doubt being sown into my conscience.

 

So...that's where I'm at. Waiting for surgery, still on Tamoxifen and trying not to let the defeatist in me speak too loudly.

 

xx Em

4 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear this Em. You should speak to Alix about Tamoxifen. She has been on it for a year now and has 4 more to go. Much love to you. xx

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  2. Its such a hard and LONG journey. Thinking of you. xxx Jules and all the family

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jules, much love to all of you xxx

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