After the long and often painful journey through chemo, surgery, and radiation, I was eager to start a new, bright chapter called ‘Hormone Therapy.’ The ‘Fighting Cancer’ chapter was in the past, and now I simply had to write the story of following a protocol that would support me moving forward with newfound health, hope, and vibrancy.
I left the pharmacy with my first prescription of the hormone-blocker Letrozde (also called Fermara) like I’d just been handed a small paper bag of new possibilities for the next five years. “I’m ready!”
Within a few short weeks, I realized that that small paper bag was actually the start of a nightmare.
It Was Painful
My joints ached so bad I could hardly stand up and sit down. At work, as I tried to settle back into some kind of normal routine, all I could manage was an agonizing hobble to get around. Getting in and out of my car was brutal. I couldn’t exercise at all.
I was miserable.
This hell continued to wreak havoc on my body for weeks with no improvement, so I asked my oncologist for a different hormone blocker and was prescribed Tamoxifen.
Soon after starting this regimen, my hot flashes and night sweats became unbearable. I could not sleep. While I was striving to create a healthy routine, waking up at about 2:00 am every night became normal. I took sleeping pills, but they didn’t help me stop sweating or stay asleep. Night after night, I woke up feeling awful, in a pool of my own sweat.
As if the night sweats, hot flashes, and insomnia weren’t bad enough, my hair became very thin. All of the progress in hair growth I had achieved after chemo was dwindling.
The longer I took Tamoxifen, the more I noticed memory issues, leaving me unable to finish my thoughts or remember what I had planned to do just seconds before. Though I tried to support myself the best I could, my emotional health was often stressed and even fragile. There were times when I would cry for no reason at all.
Can you relate?
“Stick It Out”
When I asked my oncologist about my side effects, he told me to “stick it out” for three months, because the side effects could improve. “Could”, it turns out, is a high price to pay, as my quality of life became increasingly unbearable.
Exhausted and struggling to function personally and professionally, I started to become very concerned about what hormone-blockers were doing to my body. The potential risks of taking Tamoxifen–like developing uterine cancer or having a stroke–became louder than any potential benefit.
I had to make a change.
Guided by my experience as a professor, I knew my best bet was to turn to research. The research on breast cancer is abundant, so all I had to do was find the publications that would help me find other ways to stay in remission. I didn’t know what to believe yet, though I did know I wanted a healthier lifestyle that would help me reduce my cancer risk at the root–not just for five years, but for life.
After years of devoted research, I found multiple ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer–beyond the emphasis on hormone blockers.
While a prescription can block the hormones that may have contributed to breast cancer, it can’t replace healing from other physical, mental, emotional, and environmental factors that contribute to and cause cancer. As it happens in the cells, breast cancer needs to be understood at the cellular level. Some of the research quickly proved what I already knew, though the deeper I dove, the more I came across studies that surprised me (like, did you know nutrition, supplements, exercise, and toxins can all contribute to cancer?)
My healing had to come from the roots. Maybe yours does too.
The core of what my research really taught me? Living cancer-free is a conscious lifestyle choice I make daily. As I nourished my roots with what I learned in research and clinical studies over the next five years, I restored my sense of vitality and autonomy (and sleep, hair and weight loss!). This experience, and the knowledge I collected along the way, is wealth I’m honored to share.
My Anti-Cancer Program is an evidence-based lifestyle program that helps you consciously cultivate habits that help you stay in remission, elevate your entire wellbeing, bolster your immune system, maintain a healthy weight, and experience joy, peace, and resilience through life’s inevitable and unexpected changes.
If someone could have gifted me one word to prevent cancer recurrence it would have been this: choices.
If you’d like support in understanding your choices in the now, I’m here for you. Let me help you discover how to transform your day-to-day activities to achieve the high-quality of life you want and deserve.