Insane in the Membrane
Today marks my 1 month Tamoxifen birthday. What gifts did I receive? Funny you should ask. The red carpet was rolled out for me, and I really felt like a queen on this momentous day. (I’m lying, there were no gifts.)
Let’s back up. Zack Morris “time out.” I realize not everyone reading this is fully fluent in cancer speak. Some of you have no idea what Tamoxifen even is. So let’s start with a little science lesson.
Tamoxifen is essentially a hormone blocker. Why do my hormones need to be stopped? (Don’t ask my husband this question.)
Because my specific breast cancer was driven by estrogen. Women who have hormone receptor positive breast cancer are required to take Tamoxifen for 5-10 years once they are done with treatment.
Tamoxifen works by attaching itself to the hormone receptor blocking estrogen from attaching to the receptor causing the cancer cell to grow.
Have I bored you to tears yet? Thought so. I am just getting to the good part though….
What in the world is happening to my body?
Well for starters I am fucking insane. Not all of the time, but I have noticed it. Anytime you take a pill that messes with your hormone production, you are really playing a bit of Russian roulette with your moods. I have heard some really terrible stories about this. I am delighted to say I only had one week so far where I felt completely crazy. I cried a lot. I felt unproductive. I got annoyed by literally everything people said. I felt dead inside. My oncologist told me that if you find yourself feeling this way for no reason, then that is Tamoxifen. Thanks, asshole. (Tamoxifen, being the asshole here.)
THE HEAT. MY GOD THE HEAT! I was sort of feeling myself for the first week on Tamoxifen because I was not noticing any hot flashes. Hot flashes are the most common symptom, so I literally thought I was beating the system. I was walking around wondering if I was taking a placebo pill. Was this one big joke? Did someone put Smarties in my pill bottle instead of the actual drug?
That lasted exactly one week before it became a full on strip show at my house. (And not in a sexy way). Imagine sitting on your couch in a hoodie and joggers completely comfortable, only to be digging out tank tops and shorts 5 minutes later. Then putting the hoodie back on because the hot flash is over and you are cold as shit again. I have to admit, given the polar vortex racket that has been taking over the midwest and east coast, I am not mad at a hot flash here and there, but generally it is no bueno.
In short these are the two biggest side effects I have noticed so far. One might describe their Tamoxifen experience as Glenn Close circa Fatal Attraction, but imagine Glenn is living on Mercury. That sounds about right. I am hot. I am emo. There you have it.
I hope it is working. I hope it is doing its job. I have no real way of knowing if it is a “show up to work early” kind of drug, or the kind of drug that texts 5 minutes after their shift starts to say “the trains are all messed up.” I hope the former. I hope Tamoxifen is a really solid employee. Only time will tell. Until then, there is only 9 years and 11 months to go.