Off Tam ... for now. - August 31, 2011

So ... I took July off as a mini-break from tamoxifen. I was really sad and unmotivated ... and weepy. I would cry in the produce section of the grocery store probably at least once a week ... or I'd cry at night when I'm putting laundry away. And I know, laundry isn't all that exciting, but it shouldn't bring me to tears - at least not a regular basis.

July was really nice. I felt happy again and more like myself than I've felt since this whole ordeal began. When August came around - it was really hard to let that go. But I did. I had about 10 doses left in the bottle before I had to refill. So I started back on tamoxifen. Everything I've read said it takes about 2 months for it to fully clear you system, so there was most likely still some residual chemicals running around my system. About 7 days into being back on the wagon, I started to feel that all too familiar sadness. It was Sunday night and I was putting laundry away, and Mike could just see it on my face. All it took was him asking if I was ok - and the water works began. Sigh. Another Sunday with tears in the laundry. I couldn't do it. I didn't want to do it. After feeling so much like myself in July, this breakdown was even harder because I had known what it was like to start to feel normal - to go back to normal - back to who I was pre-cancer. Almost anyway.

At close to midnight I was still awake. I decided to email my Onc. I told her I took July off because I was sad and seriously affected ... that I had come back on it in August, but a week into it I was already so sad, so soon. I told her, "I know I don't see you until September, but is there something I can do in the mean time? Can we talk in September about maybe a different type of monitoring? Regular MRI screenings instead of tamoxifen? I'm just so sad."

She replied the next day and told me that it was OK to stay off of tamoxifen until I see her in September. She said it can be a really hard drug for some people.

Did I do a little dance? Not on the outside, but I was happy and my heart was dancing. I was relieved. I had another month of feeling like myself.

But now that month is quickly coming to a close. I have about 2 weeks before I go see my Onc again for our 6 month follow up. I'm a little apprehensive about what she's going to tell me I need to do treatment wise. As much as I'm not looking forward to going back on the drug, I will if she says I need to.

I'm just so torn. We're walking the line between quality of life, and quantity of life. On tamoxifen, my quality of life goes down, but my quantity of life is potentially going up. I say potentially, because despite all the treatments, there's no cure for cancer thus there's no guarantee that even after all of everything I've done, it won't come back and claim my life. Off of tamoxifen, my quality of life goes up, but my quantity of life potentially goes down. Again, "potentially". And then there's chance. I could step off the curb and get hit by a bus and die. So what it comes down to really, is how do I want to be feeling when I step off that curb?

My life is right now. And right now, I want to be me. I want to feel like me. It might be selfish, but I'm the one who has to live this life of mine. And if I only have a handful of years, I want them to be good. I don't want to spend them sad. I don't want any future children we have to know me as a depressed and sad personality - because that's not me. Mike and I always talk about how much the drug impacts my personality. We both acknowledge that this is the hardest part of treatment. It's the silent part ... the slow part. The treatment unseen, unlike chemo - there's no hair loss, no sallowness, no sickly-ness about me. It's a slow starvation at the cellular level of any rogue cancer cells that somehow have cockroach like powers and survived the chemotherapy bombs and aggressive surgery.

What is comes down to is this - we have a limited time on this earth, how do you spend it?


  1. First - wow, look at YOU!! Va va va voom - the pictures with the brown locks on the side bar looks great! You look radiant :)

    Second - I have read that HALF of the women who are supposed to be on Tamoxifen quit taking it due to the side effects. And that is a huge number!

    You most certainly are not the only one who has had to quit... I wonder if there is something you could do instead, like you said MRI's on a regular basis?

    I cannot imagine having to make a choice between quantity of life and quality of life (especially since one is 'potential')


    Hugs to you- Michelle

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  3. Hello,
    I have a question about your blog. Please email me!

  4. Nice sharing your experiences here. Nice to read them.
    Thanks for sharing and keep posting.

  5. This is a great question, I know because my mother is pondering the same one right now. Quality or Quantity might not be such a hard question if Quality was "good enough" and Quantity was "measurable". It's the unknown that throws the question marks into the equation, huh - and makes a different answer for each asker.

    You are young, with potentially a lot of Quantity left. That should factor in - but so should the here and now. Whatever you decide will be right - because only you can make the decision that's best for you. Nobody else knows all you do.

    I just found your blog but would love to know how you're doing today.

    Prayers for you, Melissa.


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