I cannot help but ask…
You would think that by now I would remember the answer to the question, and yet, I keep asking. This time I was prompted to ask because a research paper crossed my stream talking about a potential genomic subgroup of ER/PR+ (hormone positive) breast cancer that might be useful in predicting the likelihood of late recurrence (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1007-8.epdf).
So, I asked my oncologist about what the plans might be after I reach 5 years – a time that is approaching. I had a thought that after 5 years I’d just be done with hormone therapy. Now I’ve asked this question before. And every time I ask it, I pretty much get the same answer – based upon the characteristics that are known about my cancer, my oncologist recommends 8-10 years of some form of hormone therapy. I had hoped that after 5 years of lupron, that I am most certainly in menopause by now, that I would no longer need the shot. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. Lupron is providing some level protection even if I’m not on an aromatase inhibitor.
I chatted with my oncologist on the phone today about this – mostly because it was bugging me, but also because I’m thinking about what our life my be like in 2 years, and was hoping that didn’t involve regular cancer therapy. The answer is still 8-10 years of some form of hormone therapy. He commented that some of the recent research is showing a slightly larger incident of cardiac issues for those who do lupron plus AI versus tamoxifen. He mentioned that we could try low dose tamoxifen – and by that he is saying now that 5mg looks like an option. He commented that we can try that at some point but should wait until such time as I’m not trying to do anything particularly mentally taxing like, say, defending a PhD dissertation.
And with that, we will follow up again at my regularly scheduled appointment in about 8 weeks. We can discuss further what we might do. But for now, he advised to take it ‘one day at a time’. Of course, every time I hear the 8-10 years bit I get sad – even though I’m now closer to the eight than I am to zero – so I’m looking at less time with hormone therapy ahead of me than behind me.
I seem to have a cold, and it is raining outside … these also have a great affect on my mood … so it may have nothing to do with the 8-10 years message. OK, not likely … I’m pretty sure the 8-10 years will keep me thinking the same thing – I have a sense that I’ll be on hormone therapy for the rest of my life.
Feature image by PresenterMedia.