A Surprise – Part 8: Radiation and Tamoxifen

Yesterday I saw my wonderful surgeon who performed my lumpectomy on my right breast. With her was a tall, young and nervous-looking resident who looked slightly nonplussed to see my purple and yellow zeppelin of a breast. She said that the surgery went well and that she did indeed get everything; a huge relief.

However, in women of my age, it is entirely possible for me to get these nasty little rogue ‘I’m-going-to-turn-into-cancer’ cells again, in either breast. So to keep these particular wolves away from my door (or breasts), she recommended a course of radiation and Tamoxifen. I will be meeting with the radiologist early next month, and at that time all things radiation-wise will be discussed. That’s the second stage of this latest event in my life, and I have no idea how long I will have to have radiation. Once that is settled, we will talk Tamoxifen; when to start and so on. My surgeon told me it is usually a five-year regiment. In my case, these extra steps mean that I will be prepared, not scared.

Again, if anyone reading this is about to go through a lumpectomy or similar, please know that you will feel pain for a while. Of course, right after surgery whatever high-octane pain pill they give you is very welcome–but don’t get used to it. I took mine for twelve days, gradually tapering off to where I just took Aleve. There will be little pinchy pains now and then (the Crankee Yankee kindly describes the tiny sharpness of them as ‘tit ferrets,’ which makes me laugh so much that the pain obligingly diminishes), and also deeper throb-y pain from time to time. It isn’t horrible, but it’s there. Don’t be alarmed; it’s normal. Your poor assaulted breast is healing as fast as it can, and you can’t blame it for having grumpy spells.

But the GOOD thing to remember is that ductal carcinoma in situ is officially stage zero cancer! Again, things do happen and something can certainly come out of left field at any time, but for now, for me—I am just plain grateful. If this happens to you, get all the information you can. Find a doctor who, like mine, makes you feel you can trust him/her, one you connect with, one you feel in your bones you can count on to be your advocate. When in doubt, remember to ask your heart–it will not lie to you.

But also do your homework, and learn all you can. If you work with a naturopath as I did, get their opinion and direction on what supplements, etc. to take and what not to take. Get the whole picture, and if you can, take someone along with you who can keep a cool head. I’m not saying that you can’t, but I am saying that you will need help to remember what to ask, write down instructions, and so on.

I will also ask that you do one more thing. Tell loved ones, friends, co-workers, anyone with whom you feel comfortable–tell them what’s going on with you. Accept any love, prayers, Reiki, angel work, energy healing, friendship, etc. that they offer. Their support will help you through this. You have given plenty in your life; know when to take for a change. The time will come for you to stand by someone who is sick and scared, and you will know what to do.

Again, your goal will be to be prepared, not scared!




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