A Minor Setback I Can Live With

I had a good first meeting with my oncologist yesterday. I liked him a lot and was impressed by his interaction with me and my team as well as the facility. (This was at a different hospital than I’ve been dealing with up to now.)

He had my complete file from the surgeon’s office, took a brief history, did a physical exam and then got to the heart of our meeting. He agreed, no radiation, no chemo but it was his opinion that I should take some sort of preventative medication, on the usual 5-year plan. This oncologist is a breast cancer specialist and according to him, the likelihood of some other cancer (that may have spun off from the original cancer or vice versa) is about 8% in women in my situation (very early detection, BRCA-2).

Two drugs were mentioned, Tamoxifen and Arimidex; no real difference in effectiveness between them (again for woman in my situation); each with their own side effects. Tamoxifen, the drug that I will probably end up taking (as does my sister now) exacerbates hot flashes and I was impressed that he said they would treat the hot flashes (which I’ll experience once my ovaries are removed) before I even begin the drug. There was a real sense of working with the patient and acknowledging issues in a positive and proactive way.

So, while it wasn’t 100% what I wanted to hear, I wasn’t surprised. I figure all things considered, this is a small post-cancer price to pay for beating all the odds. I’ve already made the hard decisions; he didn’t have to have the ovary removal discussion with me, since I’m already sold on that, so it was a pretty straight-forward discussion. Hot flashes and some weight gain, all of which I can deal with holistically with diet and exercise–well, I feel like I’m getting off easy.


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