I officially started my cancer treatment on January 2nd. I am taking Tamoxifen (an estrogen blocker) everyday for the next 10 years. Because my cancer was low risk, I did not have to have chemo or any other invasive treatment. Also my cancer was hormone fed (estrogen and progesterone positive at 99 and 100%), tamoxifen is the only treatment I have to do now that I am finished with surgery – double masectomy and reconstruction last year because of my mom’s history with BC. Typically, Tamoxifen sends your body into a pre-menopausal state, thus making your body experience a handful of side effects. I’m writing this post so I have something to share with other women who are on Tamoxifen, but feel free to read it if you want to know what’s going on over here with me. ☺️
I started Tamoxifen and what I thought would feel like a death sentence because the side effects are supposedly horrible has, actually, not been horrible at all! I know everyone’s bodies react differently to medicine and I’ve never been one to experience side effects on most meds, so I was hopeful when I started Tamoxifen. Side effects or not, I believe there are a few things that I’m doing that may be helping my case. I actually feel so much better now since my diagnosis and I truly believe it’s because I feel some sort of relief that I’m doing something that’s proven to keep my cancer away. Now, this is a conventional drug and I’ve always been more crunchy than conventional in my life the past few years, but I felt like Tamoxifen was what I needed to do for now. Will I be taking it for the 10 years as prescribed? Maybe not, maybe so, who knows! There are other “crunchy” ways to balance my hormones, keep the estrogen related to my breasts at bay, etc and I may do those one day, but for now Tamoxifen it is and I am happy about it.
First things first, I truly believe (and most people will probably scoff at this part, but…) that it’s all about mindset. I am naturally an optimistic person, so maybe this is easier for me. If you choose to be miserable and blame every single thing happening to your body on the medicine, then you’ll be miserable. What if you changed your perspective to knowing that this medicine is helping your body? Also, keeping in mind that maybe there will be a few hiccups along the way that may make it hard for your body to adjust and you just need to maybe give it time and love on your body in the meantime. I have a great example of this! About a month into taking it, my pharmacy switched manufacturers (aka same drug but different fillers). I had a ton of side effects: hourly hot flashes, increased anxiety, anger/moodiness, really high blood pressure, and I overall did not feel like my usual self. I was sad, mad, moody and not happy about all of the sudden changes. I decided to try to keep going for a few weeks to hopefully allow the side effects to calm down and regulate. Well, 6 days in and I just couldn’t do it anymore. It was horrible and my husband agreed. We found a different pharmacy that carried the manufacturer that I previously used and within the hour Steven was out to get a new prescription. Within 3 days, I was back to my old “self” without the side effects and I have been good sense. That was 2 months ago.
Since being diagnosed with cancer – and some before that too – my approach to medicine for me personally is getting to the root cause of the side effects and changing parts of your lifestyle to help. At this point -and totally my own opinions – I don’t believe in “medicating” side effects, i.e. taking more medicine to help side effects from the medicine I’m already taking. Maybe that will change IF a side effects becomes unbearable, but for not I am very grateful that none have been to bad at all!
Here are a few things that I am doing that I believe have helped and ALSO could help you – cancer diagnosis or not – these can help anyone! I’d be taking/doing most of this regardless of my diagnosis anyway.
Achy Joints, brittle hair and nails – Collagen peptides! I recently started using this in my coffee every morning. It doesn’t have a taste, so you can put it in everything. Collagen peptides helps with you joints, skin, hair, and nails. Supposedly, T makes you skin, hair, and nails brittle and your joints achy. I think its helping! Actually, I think its helping so much that I now need to go get my hair done every 6 weeks compared to my usual 8. Yikes! Also, I believe it helps for workout recovery when I have lifted heavy weights. The next day I am not as sore! Previously, I took BCAAs to prevent soreness, but I halted when I started collagen peptides.
Achy Joints Part 2 – Exercise!! Move your body everyday. Yoga will be the best workout with the least impact, but I love a good cardio workout with weights. It doesn’t matter what you do, just move every single day – even if it’s just a 30 minute brisk walk. Turn on this podcast or this one and you’ll wish your walk lasted longer!
Constipation – This is a big one that everyone complains about on all my facebook support groups. Rather than taking MORE medicine to counteract the effects of Tamoxifen, why not fix your diet instead? Drink more water, lay off food and drink that cause constipation (Alcohol, Soft drinks, dairy, gluten, processed food, fried food) and I know you can see where I’m going with this… FOOD is the best medicine. Change your diet and it will make all the difference. Add more veggies (especially green ones) and beans and you won’t need stool softeners or laxatives ever again, trust me. Isn’t just that enough and worth it to change your diet? Also, magnesium citrate helps too! I use Natural Calm brand and mix with water.
*Sidenote – If you’re pregnant, Natural Calm may help you like it did me. I took it for leg cramps at night (they are the worst and I never had them when I remembered to drink it before bed), but it also helped with sleep, constipation, and digestion in general. No way I will every go through another pregnancy without this stuff!
Night sweats/ Hot flashes – Not sure what to do for this yet, I have them occasionally and I just always have an extra pj set ready for when I wake up soaked. I can easily change and get right back to bed. I usually only have them at night and 1 maybe 2x a night. They’re very manageable. Summertime may be a different story, we shall see!
Sleep – as I mentioned above, taking magnesium citrate will help with sleep too! Natural Calm is a great way to drink it, but also taking an epsom salt bath is great and relaxing. Drop a few drops of essential oils in the bath too.👌🏼 I occasionally take melatonin if I’ve had trouble sleeping recently and I really want to sleep. It helps! Be careful with melatonin though, I’ve read where it can mess with your bodies natural production of melatonin if you take it continuously for too long.
Diet- I always seem to say something about diet only because it has totally changed my life since my diagnosis. I truly believe that food is the best medicine. I recently wrote a few posts on it, read here if you’re interested. ☺️
I know there are so many other side effects that I am not experiencing and I am so thankful. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in such a hard place some days and I hope and pray that never becomes the case for me. I take each day as it comes, well try to at least, and thankful that the Lord has blessed me with that day. I’ll worry about tomorrow when it comes, today is enough and the Lord has given me my bread for today and only today!
Here’s to the next 9 years and 9 months-ish on it!