Friday, November 18, 2011

An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure

We get our flu shots and other lovely injections to prevent 'bad' things. Now 'they' (as in the big mysterious them a/k/a big brother) tell us that Tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors can help prevent breast cancer in women who are high risk. And if you take a pill for five years you get another 15 years, 20 years total, of 50% or more risk reduction. Now that is pretty good news I'll say. If I could have prevented my breast cancer, I would have. But I was basically at a normal risk level so I wasn't a candidate

But the article adds that there are risks of side effects from the medications. Tamoxifen can cause uterine cancer or blood clots. Aromatase inhibitors can cause hot flashes, bone loss, muscle cramps and other little fun things. Side effects are side effects. I do not think they are a reason to stay away from a medication. First of all not every one gets them. If they did, the drugs would be off the market. If you have to deal with hot flashes for five years but then significantly reduce your risk of cancer for another 15, I'll take hot flashes over cancer any day. If one drug does not work for you, there are often substitutes that can be made. And if you are on the medications you will be well monitored.

My take on drugs that are recommended to me is that I will try them and if I can't cope with the side effects or don't like how I feel, I go back to my doctor and ask for a dose adjustment or a substitute medication. A medication is taken for a purpose and which is the lesser of two evils - the side effects or the original ailment?

A pound of cure for breast cancer often includes chemotherapy as well as radiation and surgery. Surgery leaves scars. Radiation can leave skin and other issues. Chemotherapy can leave blood issues, and chemo brain. Now that it has been documented by Fox News, we can confirm that chemotherapy causes chemo brain. So not only do you get to be on the cancer roller coaster for life but you lose some of your marbles, a/k/a brain cells, during treatment. But my chemo brain has created an endless supply of humor for my husband as he laughs at my latest brain freezes, and I'm not even a politician.

I did the exercise, eat right, take care of myself life style, but apparently it wasn't enough. I want a magic pill that prevents everything - or are those called vitamins?

1 comment:

Ann said...

I've done four chemos now, starting my fifth in December. I also have been on tamoxifen, and I have to say, the side effects of tamoxifen were the worst. It is not a benign, simple drug. It caused a lot more than hot flashes. I would, however, take it over cancer, and I wish it had worked for me. I stopped it when I became metastatic. It can be very effective though, especially for women who are BRCA positive. But, oncologists need to realize the side effects are not imaginary and can be quite brutal.