I’ve finally come up for air after the last chemo dose, just in time for 20 zaps of radiation over four weeks starting next Wednesday.
What’s exercising my mind, however, is what comes after that.
You’re saying, “Wait, there’s more?”
Yes. Yes there is.
The majority of breast cancers are Endocrine Receptor positive meaning that oestrogen, once a useful friend, has become another F word.
This foe will require 5 years of daily tablet popping. In consultation with my oncologist, I will get to select one or other from a family of aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase is an enzyme responsible for converting androgens to oestrogen. Don’t you think androgens sound a bit like alien life forms?
This seems all very straightforward until you start researching the suite of potential side effects*. These may include but are not exclusive to:
- loss of bone density;
- back to the future menopausal symptoms;
- fatigue (universal to all of the treatments thus far);
- joint and muscle pain (more common than you’d hope);
- mood changes (watch out!)
- poor sleep; and
- weight gain (really?)
As someone who has low bone density already, I was concerned enough about these impacts to have a chat with my GP yesterday. Thankfully, she didn’t minimise my concerns and took the time to outline a range of potential options.
There’s one word that keeps coming up in conversation and reading.
E X E R C I S E. That doesn’t start with the letter F so it looks like I’m going to have to learn to love the E word.
*As an aside, nobody mentioned any of this at the start of the treatment planning. I don’t know whether people feel as if you can’t handle too much information up front, but I would have appreciated a heads up a bit earlier.