Tamoxifen, is it Really the Dreaded Pill?
“Pain is temporary, pride is forever,” was the quote on my softball teams’ sweatshirt when I was 12 and the motto I’ve tried to live by my whole life. I fully tested this philosophy when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35. My diagnosis was ER and PR positive, which meant at the end of my treatment the so-called dreaded pill would be my world for 5-10 years. My treatment consisted of fertility egg preservation, a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, multiple reconstructive surgeries, and a prescription for Tamoxifen.
I had heard horror stories of the side effects of Tamoxifen, so I realized I had two choices. I could let fear determine my journey or I could approach this treatment with an open mind and face the side effects with grace and dignity. I chose the latter. I decided that I was going to take this medication with my head held high and I would embrace whatever side effects, if any came my way. I was not going to let cancer or any pill control or destroy my life.
I have been on Tamoxifen for almost 2 years now and although I have aches and pains here and there, I’m not certain if it’s the medicine or the fact that I’m aging. I have learned to listen to my body and if I need to rest and relax, then I follow my body’s prompts and feel much better for doing so. I’ve also learned how challenging, yet crucial it is to remain physically active while battling and recovering from cancer. Initially, my body was so fatigued, that working out seemed impossible, but I was determined to exercise. I set my first goal at twice a week so that it was manageable. I have found that the more active I am, the more the aches and pains subside. It makes sense that the healthier my body is, the better it feels.
When I am asked by Sharsheret, or any newly diagnosed patients for one piece of advice, it is always the same. The story and the journey are yours. Your body will not react the same as others, so don’t try to create someone else’s story…live and embrace your own. Reaching out to others for support is an easy way to connect with others over shared experiences through a seemingly isolating journey. Sharsheret’s Peer Support Network can help provide that. I truly believe that attitude is everything when it comes to something as arduous as cancer, so embrace the moments of beauty and engage the pain and hardship with self-love because more often than not the suffering is temporary and you (your body, mind, and soul) are forever.