(Really Sour Lemons)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Two and a half years ago...

Two and a half years ago... was the last time I wrote a post on this blog!

I have reasons, I swear. It seems like Life hit me in the head with a bag of lemons and knocked me out for awhile :-) My last post reported that it was my birthday... I was done with all my cancer treatments by January, my port was taken out in February, it was my birthday and I was getting my health back, and I felt very loved. Life was good. Then life started getting weird... you know that feeling you get when you know something is "off" but you can't pinpoint it? Or nobody will talk to you about it, but you know it's big? Yeah that. By July, divorce proceedings were started. I am not going into the gritty details, that's not important, but let's just say that the next 18 months of my life sucked big Sour Lemon Balls.

Never in my life did I imagine I would be divorced at age 48, after 25 years of marriage. Oh, the grieving process is real. I went through every single stage. I have never cried so much in my life, and I have never been so angry. But you know what?

I am a survivor. And I am strong.

I survived cancer. I survived divorce. I survived moving out of my home of ten years and setting up a new home with my daughter. I survived divorce lawyers. (Stress, anyone?) I survived with the help of my family, my friends, and my life coach. And art. Yes, it's true what they say. Art heals. So does writing/journaling, although I kept that all very private.

So here I am today. I am 49 and still trying to figure out who I am and what I want. Because 25 years with your other "half" only makes you a half person (and sometimes less...) When I think about my future, anxiety starts creeping in like a draft under the door. Sometimes I wonder if I have a future, and all kinds of macabre thoughts creep in. I won't go there now.

Today I had a checkup with my oncologist. The physical exam went well, no suspect lumps or bumps, or nodes. Last week I had my ovaries removed and he was surprised at how fast I was healing. Asked if I needed more Norco (pain pills) and I laughed. I took 3 out of 30. No, I don't need any more. He was thrilled at how good I felt the past few months, since I stopped taking the Tamoxifen. Here's the story...

Yes, it was my choice to stop taking the Tamoxifen... I had three years in and couldn't do it anymore. I felt like crap all the time. I woke up tired, got C to school, went back to sleep for 2 hours, dragged myself through the work day, only to crash again about 3:00, dragged my way through dinner, and sat on the couch all night because I didn't have the energy to do anything. I wanted to sleep all the time. I didn't feel like doing anything I loved... making art, sewing, reading, walking, living. My brain was in a fog all the time. I had a hard time thinking, focusing, remembering. I felt like a zombie, going through the motions of life. Depression is real, my friends. Didn't know I had it until I didn't have it anymore. A day came when I convinced myself that my daughter would be okay with her dad because he loves her and would take care of her. I didn't really care whether I lived or died.

Um, wait. what. the. f*ck. 

That day I decided to go off my meds, my Dr. had previously told me I could safely take a three week "vacation" without hurting myself. I stopped on a Monday. By the following Monday it was like a switch was flipped. I could see colors again. I could breathe again. I got six hours of sleep and didn't need a nap the entire day! I could form coherent thoughts and sentences. It was freaking amazing! I called my Dr. and made an appointment and told him I am NOT going to go back on Tamoxifen because it was killing me. He was not happy. But we compromised and decided I would get my ovaries removed to lessen the estrogen production in my body. Then we would talk about more meds. I waited until the end of summer because I had a few trips planned and didn't want to worry about lifting things, I just wanted to enjoy myself.

Which brings us back to today. My exam went really well, I passed with flying colors and I feel great. I left the cancer center with tears in my eyes, drove to a nearby empty parking lot and sobbed the Ugly Cry. Because he wants to put me BACK on meds. I don't get it. In one breath he tells me how happy he is to hear that I am feeling so good, and enjoying life, and I told him that for the first time ever I drove two days to North Carolina by myself because I COULD.

The next breath he is telling me the side effects of Arimidex (and a few I added from the website)
Tiredness, weakness. 
Increase in Cholesterol and blood pressure.
Increase in risk of blood clots and strokes.
Bone pain.
Joint pain.
Osteoporosis/bone thinning. 
Weight gain.
Sexual side effects like vag dryness and painful intercourse.  
Increase in hot flashes, flushing.
Blurred vision, chest pain, dizziness, headache, nervousness, shortness of breath...

The list goes on and on. An echoing in my head:  No. No. No. No. No. How can I do this? I finally, after THREE years, feel like I am alive again and able to enjoy my life again. And I'm supposed to willingly give it up again? This is not fair. This is SO not fair...

His words keep echoing through my brain. Probably because he repeated it 4 times during the 20 minute visit.

"Lisa, I have always been open and honest with you and I wouldn't tell you this if I didn't believe it 100%. I STRONGLY recommend that you to take this medicine. It is proven to greatly decrease your chances of recurrence and DYING OF BREAST CANCER." Yes, he said "dying".

Do I want to die? Of course not. I want to live. But I want to LIVE. I want to feel like I am alive while doing the living. I don't want to feel like I am dying while pretending to live. Sigh.

By the end of the appointment I asked "IF I took the medicine, how long would it take to notice side effects? And how long would it take to leave my system if the side effects were too severe?"

Then something happened that has NEVER happened to me before. He said "I don't have time today to discuss this with you. Seriously think about this and come back in six months." And the visit was over. I think I pissed him off. Because I didn't blindly follow instructions and do whatever he recommended? When have I EVER done that? 

I truly don't know what to do. I am so torn up about this, I just want to cry every time I think about it. I did some research tonight and am still processing. I will talk more about it next time. I would love to hear your experiences if you are taking an AI. Don't tell me what to do, just tell me what you're doing, okay? 

xoxo Lisa