4 weeks post op: decided against tamoxifen
4 weeks Post Op notes and observations:
Almost ready to RUN! :
2 more weeks until I can RUN and do BURPEES with no restrictions!
I've seen a physical therapist twice now to help with getting my full range of motion under my right arm back after mastectomy. The sentinel lymph node biopsy makes the right underarm quite sore! ... Yesterday she said she could hardly believe I was just 4 weeks post op because I was so fluid and easy to move with no tightness in the rib area. .. Never had tightness there though.
She was complimenting me up and down with how being fit had helped me going in to surgery and how walking as much as I had had helped me with my recovery. She also said that moving during recovery makes a big difference in helping cancer to not return.
Her lymphatic massage was incredible and made the little knot I had in my underarm go way down .. I can hardly tell I had a surgery at this point, except for the stitches which are quickly turning to scars across the sides and tops of my breasts. .. I will always love these scars because they represent the cancer I kicked 🙂
.. and then she told me that my mastectomy result was the best she'd ever seen! So you bet I will relay that info to my plastic surgeon and my general surgeons tomorrow when I see both! They both rock!
I'm really trying to encourage others who go through breast cancer surgery to move afterwards. .. I don't mean to move the arms directly afterwards, but move by walking (carefully), even just a little around your home .. it really helps the lymphatic system and helps to promote healing where being stationary will just make a person stiff and stuck.
TAMOXIFEN : the decision
After much homework on actual medical studies (not holistic or alternatives) and given my recurrence probability of 8% with tamoxifen and 15% without, I've decided to not try it. I thought at first I would try it for a month and see if I had side effects or if I did, if I could handle them. But I found something crazy about myself: I hoped I'd have really bad side effects so that I had an excuse to stop taking the pill. .. that made me ask myself the question, "If I feel that way, why do I feel that way and why would I take this pill if I do feel that way?"
.... so, I am very happy that this drug exists because I do know it and other anti estrogens save many lives. I am grateful for that and happy that so many benefit from it. I'd never say anything bad of it. Here's the thing: It seems to be pretty much a 47% decrease in likelihood of recurrence across the board. So if you have 67% chance of recurrence then taking tamoxifen or another AI (aromatase inhibitor for post menopausal women) for 5 years will decrease that likelihood to 31.5%. ..
You bet if I were at those numbers for risk to benefit I would take it!
... but for me, the reason I've decided to hedge my bets on the 15% chance is that there is some weight to the long term risks. I figured out that its not so much the possible hot flashes and mood swings that worry me in the short term, but the long term possible side effects. Now granted, the possibilities are low, but they pretty much break even my 15% recurrence chances. Once again, if my risk to benefit numbers were different it would be different .. and everyone is different about these decisions as they are very personal. I say this because I know many women on these drugs and these drugs have helped to save many lives, so I respect the decisions of each woman to make the right choice for herself. In no way do I want my choice to influence or scare someone into thinking her choice should be re-evaluated nor do I want any woman to tell me that I am making a mistake. I am not, and neither is she. It is very personal based on risks to benefits and the way we perceive things. ...
Anyway, I've gathered the info, I've painstakingly mulled medical studies and have made the decision and gave the outcome to God. I had to know that if cancer comes back I won't blame myself for not taking tamoxifen because it could come back even if I did take it! .. But I don't want to worry about the other Quality of Life possibilities that could (unlikely) come at the hand of the drug.
Now I am researching as much as I can about healthy alternatives (food and vitamins, etc for not just keeping cancer away but for life in general!)
which beings me to the next topic :
Seems the decision to take a drug or not like tamoxifen is a crap shoot .. it could come back in low risk women who take it and not come back in high risk women who don't take it ...
God is good all the time and all the time, God is good. .. Whatever the outcome, God is in charge. God is certainly in my praises for bringing me through what I've gone through but God wouldn't be not good if he hadn't brought me through the fight. No matter what happens to me in this world, God has me and has you too .. and for that, God is always good. There is a purpose to our lives .. we don't always know what that purpose is but God always knows it.
what an amazingly strange gift this cancer has turned out to be.
I guess I leave it at that for now .. until my notes from WEEK 5 post op .. coming next week .. God bless you all!
FAITH & HOPE!
THRIVE & TRIUMPH!