Breast cancer, Cancer, Fertility, Health, Oestrogen, Tamoxifen, Women's Health

Project Tamoxifen 2017/2022

Tomorrow I will take my first dose of Tamoxifen – the drug that suppresses oestrogen production to keep the cancer from coming back. I have to take Tamoxifen every day for the next five years, so that’s 1,825 tablets, and if all goes to plan, I’ll take my last one around the 18th December 2017, when I’m 35 years old. A lot can happen in five years! That said, a recent article suggested that doctors could change the recommendation to 10 years of Tamoxifen to increase survival rates, so if that happens, I’ll be taking it until 2022, year of the long-awaited Qatar World Cup! (Perhaps I’ll get tickets and go along to celebrate).

The most common side effects of Tamoxifen are:

– Weight gain

– Increased risk of blood clots

– Hot flushes

So if I’m chubby, rosy-cheeked and wearing rather tight socks next time you see me, you’ll know why!

As I said, Tamoxifen is taken to reduce oestrogen in patients with oestrogen-sensitive breast cancer, like myself. It’s a funny thing, oestrogen. Right before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had been taking an oestrogen-only contraceptive pill. I am told the pill isn’t likely to have caused my breast cancer – it’s more likely to be genetic – but if I had known about the risks associated with oestrogen, coupled with my grandmother’s breast cancer, I may have thought twice about an oestrogen-only pill, not to mention the pill in general.

Among the more devastating things I’ve been told by oncologists since my diagnosis is that if I’d had children already, I probably wouldn’t have got breast cancer. This is because getting pregnant reduces your oestrogen production, and the more pregnancies, the less oestrogen. So if I’d had kids in my early 20s instead of doing all that travelling and working, perhaps I wouldn’t be in this situation. And now there’s a chance I won’t be able to have kids at all. Kind of ironic…! Still, I’m not complaining – I’ve had an incredible time since finishing school and if I’d had kids in my early 20s, I probably wouldn’t have seen or done as much as I have. So, no regrets…

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12 thoughts on “Project Tamoxifen 2017/2022

  1. Lisa Dawson says:

    Hmm, have been investigating into the weight gain thing (something that is always guaranteed to freak me out….) – is caused purely by water retention (manageable with dandelion tea amongst other things….!) and hunger to combat nausea which we have already been through during the chemo. So I think that should be nothing new! Have already been getting hot flushes during the chemo but only when I drink wine (usually when wearing a wig and trying to look like a normal person), and it’s almost immediate. That’s one side effect I’m hoping I won’t get with the Tamoxifen! Have read that if you take your pill in the evening then you won’t get the flushes during the day. Allegedly. Will see when I take my first one next month! xx

    • Oh, that’s good to know! I seem to be getting hot flushes in the night at the moment and one or two in the day, I’m not sure if it’s some sort of after-effect of the chemo or maybe the antibiotics I’m taking. I suppose it’s only been 3 weeks so could still be the chemo. I went out for lunch yesterday and also had half a glass of wine and was wearing a wig and had to suddenly strip off in the restaurant due to sudden hot flush so I know what you mean! I’m hoping I won’t get any real side effects so fingers crossed. Good luck on weds, I’ll be thinking of you! Final strait! xx

      • Lisa Dawson says:

        Thanks Laura! Good luck for your appointment, too. Am looking forward to carefree showering after they take the PICC line out yippee. Plus no more anticipatory nausea, a bonus xxx

  2. Adriana Tomalino says:

    Holaaa!!! Yo te puedo contar mi experiencia: tomo tamoxifeno, 20 mg diarios antes de irme a dormir, desde hace 3 y 1/2 años. Al principio tomaba de una marca, fabricado en un laboratoiro de primera línea de Argentina, luego la oncóloga recetó el Nolvadex, de laboratorio Astra-Zeneca, de Inglaterra. Puedo decirte que las sensaciones fueron marcadamente distintas con uno y otro. Distinta biodisponibilidad? En ambos casos hubo sensaciones raras al comienzo de tomarlo pero luego el cuerpo se acostumbró y dejé de sentirlas. Con el primero tuve dolores en las articulaciones, que luego desaparecieron. Con el Nolvadex tuve algunos sofocos que se calmaron al poco tiempo y algunos dolores corporales que también desaparecieron solos. Y la ganacia de peso es evidente, es muy parecido a lo que les pasa a las mujeres cerca de los 50, que aumentan varios kilos acompañando a la menopausia.
    En cuanto a maternidad y cáncer de mama, yo tuve a mi hijo y a los 18 meses del parto vino es diagnóstico….hay sospechas-hechos que muestran que durante la recuperación mecánica de la mama post lactancia se liberan factores que son el combustible de tumores de mama. En realidad, hay causas varias y situaciones varias, con lo cual nunca se sabe bien la razón, yo sostengo que el stress es fundamental en todo ésto, sumado a la propia predisposición.
    Por lo de tener hijos quizás deberías más adelante consultar con tu ginecólogo y tu oncólogo para evaluar tu situación. Mi oncóloga me preguntó hace unos meses si quería tener más hijos….me hubiera encantado tener más de uno pero fijate que para mi, es un tema cumplido: siendo ya mamá y a los 43 años eso ya quedó atrás. Depende de si se mantiene la menstruación ó no, todas las mujeres somos distintas. Es bien conocido que es poco probable pero hay mujeres que han tenido hijos después de pasar por ésto. Dejalo para más adelante y cuando estés más tranquila investigá tu propio caso a fondo, con cada especialista.
    Es fácil tomar decisiones con noticias del diario de ayer, no? No tenés nada de que arrepentirte, tal cual como vos decís.
    Besos, Adri.

    • Hola! Gracias por la informacion! La marca que me dieron solo se llama Tamoxifen y es fabricada por Wockhardt. Vamos a ver como son las sensaciones. Voy a tener que empezar a correr de nuevo si voy a engordarme un poco! Con respecto a la fertlidad y todo eso, el tema mas importante por ahora es que ni quiero tener hijos en el futuro proximo ni estoy en una relacion con nadie, asi que tener hijos ya iba a estar en el futuro no-tan-proximo. Si en 3 o 5 o 7 o hasta 10 anios quiero tener hijos, ahi voy a hablar con los medicos pero por ahora el prognostico esta bueno. Sinceramente, por ahora solo quiero aprovechar la vida y no pensar mucho en el futuro! Hay demasiadas posibilidades!! Besos, Laura

  3. Adriana Tomalino says:

    Por supuesto, tenés tiempo suficiente para disfrutar otras cosas y llegado el momento consultás tranquila.
    Quizás esté bueno que preguntes por las distintas marcas de tamoxifeno 20 mg, aparentemente te dieron un medicamente genérico….yo averigué un poco y parece que hay distinta biodisponibilidad entre unos y otros (x los excipientes, etc), así podrás estar segura que disponés del mejor medicamento.
    Si mirás la cajita del que tomé y del que tomo, los dos dicen lo mismo, pero doy fe que noté el cambio.
    Besos.

    • Thanks so much, I’ve just been to Dublin to find out about my radiotherapy treatment so I’ll post about that tomorrow. Yes, hopefully it’ll be less taxing. I hope you’re well too and have a wonderful, restful Christmas! Laura xx

  4. Liz Walker says:

    You are amazing Laura, the travelling part of you is who you are and the life experience you have agained over the years will be priceless pricey he he 🙂 xx

    • haha thanks Lizzie Lu, yep I wouldn’t have so many stories to tell if I hadn’t done all the travelling, I’d still be talking about Greenhead drama and ketchup in your eye probably xx

  5. Just stumbled upon your blog… I’ll be completing Tamoxifen around the same time as you… I started it November 2… I was diagnosed at 28 in January of this year… I am still in shock by how many of us are getting breast cancer in our twenties and thirties. It’s just not right.

    Wishing you well… hopefully you are not struggling with too many side effects.

    • Hi Ashley, thanks so much for getting in touch. Wow, 28! That’s even younger than I was 😦 It’s crazy, and I also feel like there seem to be too many of us young people getting breast cancer, but then also maybe it’s just that we are all blogging about it so even though we’re a small percentage, we seem like a larger percentage on the internet? I don’t know, but it’s definitely a positive thing that we can find each other through this medium and help support each other through our blogs from across the seas, right?! Maybe we can meet up in 2017 when we finish our Tamoxifen, hehe!

      I have just clicked on and bookmarked your blog so I’ll have a good read through tomorrow and keep following your progress. I am due to start radiotherapy on 2nd Jan so it’ll be a strange start to 2013 but I’m all about surviving and making the most of life now!

      I see you are a cat lover too – maybe it’s just me noticing it but I feel like so many of the other breast cancer patients I’ve found through blogging are cat lovers! Is there something they’re not telling us?! But anyway, I hope you’re moggies are helping you get through it like mine are! Big love to you, hope you’re doing well and have a wonderful Christmas and let’s make sure we have a 100% healthy new year! xx

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