Sunday, January 30, 2011

Side Effects

For those of you who read my previous lengthy and educational (or boring, as the case may be) post about radiation treatment (written not so much for you, but more for me to build a case to take to the cancer docs), you can dismiss it. Radiation is back on my plate. Long story short, I lost out to the breast cancer standard treatment juggernaut. The hype, “individualized, personalized treatment” apparently does not include the patient.

Now the latest decision I face (but wonder if I’ll have any say over) is what kind of drug I get to take for the next five years or, possibly, the rest of my life. One is Tamoxifen and the other Femara. Both eliminate any bit of estrogen this poor old body still can eke out. However they differ wildly in their side effects. (Here are the choices:

So, what’ll it be? Osteoporosis, increased cholesterol and weight gain (etc.) with Femara vs. blood clots, endometrial cancer and hair thinning (etc.) with Tamoxifen.


Back in about 6th grade, the entire class at Louisa May Alcott School took the Kuder Preference test. You used a pin to punch out your answers to a long series of survey questions indicating a career bent in one of 9 different categories: mechanical, clerical, computational, scientific, literary, social service, persuasive, artistic and musical. (*As a footnote, “outdoors” was added later as a category.) The questions were sort of like, (The following reconstruction is done from a distance of close to sixty years and is entirely fictional, but you’ll get the idea): “If you had a sick friend, would you rather (a) take care of him, (b) read to him, (c) make him chicken soup or (d) send a get well card.

I don’t even know what my best score was (I’d like to think “literary”), but, by far and away, my lowest scoring category was “social service.” Out were career options in a number of occupations, particularly those in health care. It was eerily prescient. I cannot imagine being in a job surrounded all the time by sick and diseased people! They are boring; all they are concerned about are themselves and their illness.

But, guess what? Here I am.

It bothers me how my disease has taken over my life, making me a one-dimensional person centered on one thing: the damn cancer.

So, I’m trying to get back to previous pleasures and get that chattering self-obsessed monkey to shut up for a while. To wit:

  • The movie Black Swan. I tried to find a good adjective to describe it in a message to my friend Jamie but the closest I could come was that I didn’t mind a bit paying big bucks at the box office to see it. Not for everyone though (madness, obsession, and even though there’s sexual naughtiness, definitely not a guy’s movie!)
  • The book Bonk by Mary Roach (free with Interlibrary Loan). Mary Roach is the funniest non-fiction writer on the planet. Bonk makes light of scientific inquiries into sex (from an especially female point of view). Here’s a gentle sample and, remember, she is writing about real stuff.

These days, the only animal testicles being implanted into men are silicone prosthetics called Neuticles – intended for neutered pets….You may well be wondering why a neutered dog would need prosthetic testicles. A vet quoted on the Neuticles Web site says the product, ‘helps the pet’s self-esteem.'

(Not for everyone though (madness, obsession, and even though there’s sexual nuttiness, definitely not a guy’s book!)

Love to all,

P.S. For those of you who didn’t manage to wade all the way through my last blog (don’t bother now since it is moot), visit my friend Jean’s blog with recipes for singles (or sometimes two):

P.P.S. The picture is me and Big-Un in older times. It's my screen saver.


  1. I am hoping the side effects don't effect everyone the same. My friends who have taken cancer drugs have taken the Taloxfen, I don't really remember them saying anything about feeling the side effects.

  2. I've got my fingers crossed although I'm already feeling lots of effects just from quitting hormone replacement therapy! It might be self-fulfilling though. I've got to stop reading this stuff!!!!

  3. I understand the no hormones! I had a complete hysterectomy in 2000and have not taken any replacement teatments for about 2years. I still can sweat up a storm! ha.
    love ya