Monday, January 24, 2011

Letter to my Doctor, 1/22/10

> Hi Dr. B,
>
> Happy Saturday! So ... I was reading (again) and I was wondering if you could help me make sense of what I'm finding. I know I see you in March but I was hoping you could answer these questions for me early.
>
> About the tamoxifen - and the menopausal side effects ... First my skin, I'm breaking out across my forehead and it's starting on my cheeks now. I know I mentioned I went through Accutane treatment and currently it feels all for naught. I read that acne is normal in menopause. Is the tamoxifen causing such a menopausal side effect that it's causing me to break out? If so, is there something I can supplement with to help my skin not just against the acne but against the dryness, dullness, loss of plumpness, etc. that also happens in menopause? Fish oil? Vitamin E? Topical estrogen, if that's the cause?
>
> Second, about my hair. Thinning hair is common for menopause (so I read) ... Since my hair is still less than an inch long, I can't assess whether or not it's much thinner than before but it made me wonder if the Tamoxifen will cause that to happen too? Or if it slows down the growth? If so, when I come off of it, "should" things go back to normal? I decided against the Rogaine and am just letting nature work here - but if I'm circumventing it's return, I'd rather wait for it to come back fully and then re-start the drug.
>
> Finally, sunning .... Articles say there is increased sun sensitivity but don't really specify what about sun exposure changes. Is this a side effect of the tamoxifen and if so, is it just burning more easily or is it a rash or just redness that occurs? I'd like to get by the pool this summer but not for the price of harsh burns.
>
> Overall, I'm curious if all the typical menopausal side effects that I can find out about online are applicable to being on tamoxifen, or if it's just a select few. If all the typical side effects apply, what can I do to balance out these changes? I know we talked about all this before I started taking it, it's just more applicable now that I know what's actually happening, side effect wise.
>
> At 3 weeks in, and aside from the skin changes, I seem to be tolerating the drug well. My menstrual cycle even started again this month where October was the last time I had had it. I'm just wanting to know what I can do tolerate the drug even better. I trust you're plan and intend to stay on it for a year before we try for kids, but I would be a liar if I said I didn't care about how it's affecting my appearance and in turn how that effects my self esteem. BC, a BMX and chemo is a big blow to one's sense of femininity and confidence. Now that recon is finished, my period returned and my hair is on it's way back, I really don't want to trade one self-esteem blow for another if I can help it somehow.
>
> Looking forward to hearing from you,
>
> Melissa
>
> --
> Melissa Bingham
>

3 comments:

  1. Hello - I am on day 20 of my journey - my surgery is coming up next week and I am frightened. I am young also - but not as young as you, I'm 35. It's hard to relate to others going through it who are 70. Your blog is helping me, as I read each step you went through, it prepares me for mine.

    Next up - sentinel node biopsy.

    Michelle

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  2. Michelle - I'm so happy my blog is helping. I tried to document each step because like you, I found it terribly hard to relate to the much more mature women who are going through this. 35 is still very young, too young.

    Are you having your sentinel node biopsy done separate from any surgery? Or are you having it in conjunction with a lumpectomy/mastectomy?

    The lymphoscintigraphy that they do to ID the sentinel node isn't so bad - but the injection with the tracer dye hurts a little. It's a big machine and you're slid into it once the dye gets going. Takes a little while but overall it's not terrible.

    If you ever need to talk, please know you can email me anytime: melissajbingham@gmail.com.

    Best Wishes,
    Melissa

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  3. Thanks Melissa, I am trying to retain my sense of humor through this whole thing. I keep telling myself I've always wanted a boob job after the kids were born so now I laugh about finally getting one :)

    Sentinel node biopsy AND scilla node dissection AND bilateral mastectomy all at once :(

    And because my receptors were positive they recommend a full hysterectomy - but I've already had my kids so for me that was an easy choice.... Michelle

    ReplyDelete