A week after finding out I had cancer my nurse called me to give me more information about my tumour. She explained that my tumour was ‘HER2 negative’ and ‘ER positive’ which were both good pieces of news. The HER2 test shows how quickly the cells are dividing so a negative result meant my tumour was a slower growing kind and the ER test determines if the tumour is effected by the hormone oestrogen, mine was so I can have hormone treatment which will help reduce the chance of a reoccurrence. This all sounded great and to be honest while I was focused on getting through my operation then chemotherapy I hadn’t really given it much thought.
At my routine blood test, just before my last chemo, my nurse mentioned hormone therapy, this sent my head in to a bit of a spin, I was so excited to be done with chemo but still had a lot ahead of me. I knew from another brief discussion I’d had with my nurse that the hormone therapy would put me in to a false menopause which meant due to my age once I’d finished the treatment I’d probably still have my natural menopause to look forward to, lucky me!
So my final chemo came and went, thank goodness and it was time to find out about what lay ahead with my next treatment. Since my fourth and final chemo I had been having hot sweats which woke me several times a night and it was looking like chemo had shocked my poor ovaries in to an early menopause already, whether this would improve or my body would recover. Who knows? Not the nurses anyway. That’s the very frustrating thing about cancer treatment it’s a bit of a mine field, everyone reacts differently and how your body will recover is a guessing game. One thing I did know for sure was the lack of sleep was putting me in a shitty mood and the thought of this being long term made me terrified I’d end up depressed.
Goserelina and Exemestane are the new drugs that are found to be best for keeping the breast cancer buggers at bay. They stop the body producing oestrogen which my kind of cancer loves so much. My information appointment didn’t improve my spirits any, the nurse basically read through a list of all the possible side effects of these drugs and boy were they a treat.
Here’s a few of my favourites:
- Hot flushes and sweats: well they were killing me already.
- Tiredness, lack of energy and hair thinning: just what I need after three months of chemo
- Joint, muscle and tummy pain, oh and don’t forget headaches!
- Loss of libido: well with this collection of side effects I can’t imagine why that would happen!
I could feel my eyes well up as she read through them, especially since I was going to be having a monthly injection of Goserelin and a daily tablet of Exemestane for the next ten years! She was vague about how long the side effects would last and keen for me to give it a few months for my body to get used to the medication then see my GP if I was still having problems. There are two things I’m finding very difficult to get my head around with this kind of medication. Firstly, I could cope with chemo and radio because I knew there would be an end point in sight so I just had to focus on getting through but ten years is a blooming long time and I’m struggling to see the light at the end of this tunnel. Also it’s the whole preventative medicine concept, taking a drug that’s going to make you feel pretty rubbish ‘in case’ you get ill again. I suppose it’s about concentrating on the lesser of two evils and being glad that the chance of a reoccurrence will be low. However, when I go to the nurse this week and she injects me full of drugs that will chemically put my body in to an oestrogen cold turkey my mind cannot help wondering, will this life saving treatment be the one thing to steal my smile.