Tamoxifen Drama

So…

WHAT IS Tamoxifen?

I have been taking this drug for almost 5 years… Side note: I had to retrieve my hospital folder to look for the date I started taking Tamoxifen on my medical schedule lol because I don’t remember the finer details bwahahahahaha! I’ll put this here in case I forget – I officially started this medication on 6 November 2012.

I was told that Tamoxifen is a “Hormone Therapy”… that will prevent my cancer cells from spreading and hopefully keep me in remission for a few years. Tamoxifen is NOT preventative for any new Cancer that may occur but is given to treat my CURRENT Cancer. I have written about the side effects many times and it is exhausting to keep repeating myself – so in short IT IS ATROCIOUS! And my doctors have sentenced me to TamoxiHell forever…

So I stumbled across a support group for Tamoxifen patients on Facebook and I was overjoyed that so many women were taking this medication and that I was not alone. Many of them find that the side effects are life changing and the impact has negatively impacted their quality of life. Fewer women tolerate the drug and adjust their lifestyles accordingly.

Every now and then a debate arises: So what EXACTLY is Tamoxifen? Is it toxic? What does it do? Is Tamoxifen Chemotherapy???

Many Doctors will argue that it is NOT chemotherapy… Many patients will argue that it IS! In essence chemotherapy is a highly toxic substance used to stop or interfere with the rapidly dividing cells in the body (both healthy and malignant).

Tamoxifen is called a ‘Cytostatic Agent’ which ‘inhibits cell growth’… HeLLLLllooooo? WHaaaaAAT???

Don’t believe me? Ask Dr Google… or better yet have a good long look at the attached pic…

“Cytostatic (chemotherapeutic) refers to a cellular component or medicine that inhibits cell growth…

*Hysterical Voice* Also Tamoxifen can cause Secondary Cancers – cervical, uterine, endometrial and liver… never mind the fact that it Sometimes DOESN’T WORK!

Okay…enough of that…

Here’s how I deal with the AfterParty:

  1. Severe stomach ache – you are probably constipated, try a fruit smoothie. And if you aren’t sorted then try a mild laxative. I avoid laxatives because diarrhoea is scary (green juice works best for me). Do NOT eat cake or samosas as this will lead to more constipation and leave you full of sh*t literally!
  2. Bleeding mouth and gums – use a soft toothbrush or better yet use your sanitised fingers to clean your teeth and gums. Also add some Betadine mouthwash to your oral routine to keep the nasties at bay.
  3. Nose bleeds – stop drop and roll into your bed. These are evil and need your urgent attention. Relax and don’t blow try to go with the flow? If you bleed a whole towel full GO TO HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOMS IMMEDIATELY!
  4. Bleeding Bum – Gross – I know… Piles… eeeeuuuuwwwww! I just can’t even deal… Cry!
  5. Pain in your Liver/Back/Neck/Shoulder/Head – No it is Not Cancer – STOP THAT!

Hows that for Toxic? I am done with being in denial of the fact that I am still being treated for Breast Cancer. And it SUCKS that Tamoxifen is Chemo… and it makes me feel kuk!

Finish en Klaar!

 

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This is Tired

I am tired. It’s been so long that I don’t remember being not tired. My brain is tired and forgets everything from which day of the week it is, to birthdays, to playdates and party times… I rely on Facebook to tell me whose birthdays I have forgotten and on Whatsapp to keep track of everything else… Thank goodness for technology!

I am endlessly exhausted… This is not something I am used to because I WAS NOT ALWAYS TIRED!

And no amount of sleeping has made me feel better. I wake up like this every day. Nothing and I mean NOTHING has improved my condition. I tried changing my diet – Low Carb High Fat just made me constipated and Paleo made me feel feral. I obviously crave sugar and because I try real hard to restrict my intake I satisfy my cravings with copious amounts of dates which gets me to midday without shovelling satisfyingly good chocolate down my throat. I tried coffee to kickstart my morning and make me generally sociable – but Haibo! heart palpitations are scary and freak me the hell out.  I also tried supplements… but I am not allowed to mess around with extra supplementation due to current medication interaction – in other words – it could possibly interfere with my Tamoxifen and THAT may just be catastrophic!

How does Chronic Fatigue feel you ask? My throat is always sore. My head hurts. My muscles ache. My bones are icky. My hips are officially retired and my feet feel like bags of concrete. My back and shoulders are trying to assassinate me.

This is Chronic Fatigue… apparently caused by CHEMO (insert swearing screaming emoji)!!!

I unfortunately do not have any special strategies or tips of how to get over this and apparently   there is no quick fix. The last time I spoke to my Oncologist she said it is a lingering effect of chemo and something I have to learn to live with….

I am not complaining because even though I feel shitty now I will still go for a run later today! To show this fatigue that I will not let it rule my life and turn me savage instead I will eat whatever comes my way because how else am I supposed to fuel my running???

I know I am just making excuses to eat whatever I want and yet I haven’t been more aware of the lifestyle army screaming – watch your weight, eat healthily, increase fruit and vegetables, decrease fat and sugar, drink tons of water and get plenty of sleep and always remember to smile and be friendly and polite! Insert Middle finger emoji! Hahahahahahaha… Right!

I refuse to endanger my volatile mental state by denying myself a samoosa when I feel like it! That is NEVER going to happen, okay? I don’t see how this could possibly affect my Fatigue which is THE issue!

And on a lighter note… A friend sent me this:
(PS: She is a Doctor and is living with Stage 4 Breast Cancer)

THIS is how to Cure Your Cancer:

Take a handful of Kale and add Turmeric to it and put it in Carrot juice and use as an Enema for 15 days then stand in a Yoga pose for another five days then massage Cannabis oil all over and slip an slide for two days followed by organic ground coffee enemas until you successfully shit out all the cancer! There! Just stay in Downward Dog all your life with your head in Coconut and Avocado oil and have someone sprinkle a light dusting of Matcha and Green Tea all over you! Voila!

Bwaahahahahahahaha!!! LAUGHING FOR DAYS!

And Yes, people actually say the DUMBEST CRAZIEST RUBBISH when they hear you have Cancer! I understand that maybe they know EVERYTHING and really want to help us ignorant cancer patients but hey…. if it were SO SIMPLE why are people still dying from Cancer??? nmy opinion I think Maybe they haven’t tried the Cannabis Enemas!

 

Fat Shamed

Last week I was fat shamed by another mom fetching her kid at School.  We had not seen each other in a couple of months and yet she could not wait to tell me how much weight I had gained. I must admit that we are not friends, but we greet each other amicably at all school functions and no we don’t socialise or have any kind of friendship.

At first I laughed it off and responded with “No man, I have not put on weight since you last saw me…” to which she then retorted “I assure you, you have put on a lot of weight since I last saw you…”  I grabbed at my oversized jersey and wrapped it against my body tightly and retorted that she is mistaken… and hurried away from her as quickly as I could despite her argueing vehemently how fat I had become…

I COULD NOT BELIEVE THE NERVE OF THIS WOMAN! I stomped off thinking what a fucking piece of shit! Does she even know how much I struggle with keeping my weight ‘normal’? Did she even consider the fact that she hurt my feelings? Does she even know how much effort it takes to look like this? The hours of training, the blood, sweat and tears??? The courage and heartbreak I carry with me everyday as I try to live in a body that betrays me over and over again????

Noooooo!!!

So before you judge my fat round body… please consider this:

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS WE ARE ALL FIGHTING WARS

And in case your small mind cannot comprehend this certainty let me make it simple…

That just because it may not seem that somebody is battling with something on the outside, it does not mean that they are free from any battles. There is no such thing as perfection and every single one of us are fighting personal challenges… mine just happens to be my body!

PS: Before you even puke out the words ‘You are Fat’ to ANYBODY…
consider that you are an A**HOLE that needs to STFU…

 

4 Year Anniversary

Exactly 4 years ago I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the clandestine rooms of a Breast Specialist. Who would’ve thought that neatly tucked away in the belly of a hospital down the road from my house, I would receive the most harrowing news ever.  It has been a long road, never easy, sometimes complicated and very frustrating. Mostly I have tried to live every day without any regrets. I try my best to stay positive and just keep swimming with my head above the water just following the tides…

Earlier this month I explained my general anxiety that the month of April brings in terms of having to see my Oncologist etc… It’s always such an unwelcoming reminder of my state of health that still frightens me and leaves me depressed and scared.

But today I am not depressed or morose. I think after this long my wounds have healed and the festering scab has finally settled down to just an irritating scar. I used to chug along and say just one more year to next year, just one more month, just one more day etc.. I used to place so much importance on this stupid inconsequential day! I used to calculate and bargain and make compensation just to make it to the next anniversary of 25th April…

The reasoning behind this thinking is that it’s the way in which my recurrence risk is measured medically. My onco type usually recurs within the first 5 years from diagnosis. So its basically a doom and gloom countdown to 5 years… And if I make it till then I should be okay!? But this is a gamble and life is not promised to anyone. So I feel childish and immature to fool myself into thinking this way… But I suppose the banter keeps my mind occupied and the distraction is welcoming as opposed to just worrying about recurrence all the time.

I think back and try to remember how I have gotten this far and what has sustained me through another year of life and in all honesty I am certain it is my refusal to feel defeated by adversity – that is an attribute the Almighty has blessed me with! Today, 4 years after the dread and horror – I am feeling great. I am more positive than ever, I am a lot wiser and stronger and definitely healthier than I have been in a long, long time. I am able to exercise daily without getting ill. I am not exhausted all the time and the brain fog has lifted slightly. My quality of life has improved dramatically since post chemo etc… and I can see the daylight filtering through from the light at the end of my tunnel!

I am grateful and thriving!

Alhamdulillah!

Today Was Rocky

Feeling a bit off today…
Got a call early this morning from a young lady I met only last year when she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer. She informed me that she got sick two weeks ago and that they have rediagnosed her with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer, her cancer has spread to her lungs…

Whew!
I was dumbfounded… I mean I never run out of things to say really…
But this morning… I had no words…
My lengthy list of curses and colourful expletives were silenced…

I am still trying to process her grief and anguish. I am utterly broken…

Stage 4 metastatic cancer is tricky and your life expectancy is shortened drastically depending on how your body reacts to treatment. I tried my best to stay positive and told her about many other Stage 4 Thrivers on Social Media and elsewhere. But my heart still feels the traitor…

I turn the mirror inwardly because I know what the nature of this disease is… that you are never really cured… it is part of your body and can return without warning and explanation at any given time…

I always get asked how I cope with this reality…
I don’t…
I don’t think about it…
I fill my head with other things… like music, books, children, family, running, praying, reading, working and creating…
So there’s really no time for the nagging insecurities lurking in my subconscious.

But on a rocky day, like today, I think about it a lot more than necessary…

Life’s a Beach

Writing about my breast cancer is a serious job and it is not always easy because in reality it becomes part of your daily truth. Your brain gets rewired during the process and you change (I have said this before… I know) sometimes in the biggest most visible ways and sometimes in the most miniscule ways that nobody notices but you. For example: I no longer smoke… anything… and I am not afraid to say everything and secretly I refuse to wear a bra!

So I have strived to be as honest and truthful in my retelling of my cancer chronicles (Side note: I am tired of saying ’Journey’ because ‘Journey’ implies I am going somewhere and where EXACTLY am I GOING???) instead of creating a false sense of reality. My writing comes from my head and heart and reflects who I am (an insane Nutter mostly) and flows outta my fingertips magically (KAK Man lol)! Writing is a natural outlet for me and if I am unable to write I feel as if I am being choked… emotionally and physically… and I don’t like being choked! I get frustrated as hell and only swear words spews from my mouth – not pretty!

So recently I have decided to up my game and do some research and read other people’s blogs! Biggest fucken Mistake! I have never been more bored, scared and depressed by my reality. Breast cancer blogs are uninteresting and hopeless! Maybe these women all got their brains rewired to being redundant… I don’t know… it’s very sad… I thought writing was supposed to help others and to inspire others – not scare the shit out of them!
So I have decided to keep on swearing and laughing at my situation because FFS I will not let this get me down – and neither should you! Its depressing and sad I know… but come on at least you are alive? Right?

I remember going to see a Psychotherapist during my treatment (notice no ‘Journey’) and she asked me if I am sad all the time… I said that I wasn’t sad at all! She was surprised when I said that I am angry and mad mostly! I needed to explain: I was angry at myself for getting this way and I was mad because I did not know how to deal with it! I felt that I was being deserted and all I wanted to do was run away from everyone and everything. She asked me where I would go… I said that I would go to Hermanus…. LOL for days! (Hows that for thinking creatively bwahahahahaha!!!)

She was really confused… But still maintained I was suffering of PTSD and offered me anti-depressants!

Point is – why so much doom and gloom? Yes, life is flippen hard and super challenging… for EVERYONE not just you! You are not alone in this gigantic universe. You do not exist in isolation… No! You form part of the many amazing things this world has to offer no matter how broken or bruised you are. So please choose to see beyond your circumstances and your problems and your sadness but rather focus on things beyond yourself and your existence! Why choose to be the source of someone’s misery and fear?

Some words of wisdom from the Streets: As jy niks mooi het om te sê nie dan hou jou bek!
Translation: If you have nothing nice to say then rather be quiet!

On a lighter note – the insanity continues! I am stuck in bed today with a tummy bug that my kids keep returning to me because I am the ONLY OFFICIAL BUM CLEANER in my house! They do not call for ‘Daddy’ and get grossed out by the idea of cleaning themselves! Both hands clenching nostrils… EEuuuuwwww!

And I am rather pissed off because I may need to take antibiotics and I will miss my hills training this evening…

PS: Doing my first 21km Race this weekend… In Shaa Allah!

How January escaped Me

Its February already… and here I am still wondering what the Hell happened to January???

Come to think of it, January was a bit messy – all over the place like spilled sugar! I felt my life veering out of control as I emerged from holiday mode and needed to settle my kids into a normal school routine as well as train myself to be a disciplined hands-on Mommy Monster. Some days I am still flummoxed by the amount of energy needed to keep up this act… But I admit once the school clothes and shoes were bought, stationery bought and labelled, books covered and labelled, bags and lunch packed and the kids were carted off to school…
I felt like less of a failure…. And more like a Conqueror! Yeah!

So I could calmly settle into the dullness of adulthood! Where the requirements bore the crap out of me. But never the less I push on… because I could Rant Like Mad about how much I Love being grown up….

I set myself many goals to achieve this year but one I am particularly more excited about than all the others. Particularly because it embraces two things I am passionate about… running and raising awareness!

I have decided to run my first Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon 21k Race… and I will be doing it for Charity! I specifically chose to do this to represent and inspire other Breast Cancer Survivors to join the cause of awareness! I feel so honoured that I will be representing the PinkDrive Organisation – they have mobile mammography and gynae clinics that service disadvantaged women all over South Africa. Drumroll…. Tadaaa!

So be warned that my social media feeds will be about fundraising, fundraising and more fundraising for the next month! I would like to donate at least R5000 towards this cause as I feel it is an important and much needed service for women, considering the cost of these services at a hospital.

I hope that R5000 is not too ambitious… My idea is that I get at least 100 people to each donate R50 to my cause! So please people do not ‘unfriend’ me rather help me out on my road to the OMTOM!

I’ll be posting links to my GivenGain page soonest… Keep your eyes peeled!