As we walked through the streets of San Francisco and into Marin County we heard this song over and over again. It isn’t actually an anthem for cancer, rather one for mental health – but it feels so appropriate. Mental health and breast cancer are somewhat inter-linked – in that breast cancer and its treatments certain put a strain on your mental health. So, I bought the song and loaded it onto my iPod shuffle (the one I use for exercise). I’m looking for suggestions for other new songs that might be appropriate for working out. It is time that I retired some of my older music (Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, and Alanis Morrissette).
This week Rebecca challenged cancer bloggers to share more positive stories. Personally, I try to share both – the good and the bad. But she is right. It is often much easier to find the words when you are writing about the challenges – expect for the words “I am cancer free“. For me, those were challenging words.
One of the things I’ve been struggling with is headaches. I’ve mentioned before that I hoped that the CPAP machine would be my panacea. It hasn’t been long enough to know if that is the case. I’m still hoping, but also dealing with jet lag after my trip to Ontario last week.
At my last oncologist appointment, he suggested that I could take a month off of tamoxifen. He said this after telling me ‘I am a cancer doctor, not a headache doctor’ (said in a jestfull tone). At the mention of going off of tamoxifen, I cried. It is hard to contemplate the idea that I should stop taking the thing that might just be stopping the cancer from progressing. It is a scary thought. After much consideration, I did decide to stop. I figured that if I was going to a conference for three days, and there was a slight chance that the tamoxifen was causing the headaches, that was as good a time as any to go off. I started taking tamoxifen on my birthday – back in early February. I was still recovering from my major surgery. As a result, it was difficult to tell what was a side effect of tamoxifen and what was my body healing. I recall writing about a fog lifting.
Two days after I stopped taking tamoxifen, I felt a fog lift. I felt that for the first time in a long time I could actually concentrate on things in the afternoon. Previously, I managed to do most of my ‘work’ in the morning. My afternoons were mostly spend running errands or exercising. This was, in part, because I couldn’t think straight in the afternoons. I had bad headaches but also a fog that slowed my ability to think.
So, where does that leave me? That is a good question. In the next couple of weeks I’ll be doing a few blood tests (we need to see if my body is in menopause or not). From there, a new treatment plan will be hatched. I’ll meet with my oncologist again, and decide what medications I’ll take. Tamoxifen isn’t the only option. There are other choices – some of which are more effective against the cancer, but come with a different set of side effects. I’ve decided to not worry about it for now. For now, I’m going to enjoy my tamoxifen vacation – and try to feel healthy and strong again. And with that, I’m off to the gym so that I can listen to My Fight Song while sweating and working out some of the stress in me!