if i had been left alone

Sometimes, I wonder what my body would have aged like if it had been left to its own devices. In 2003, both of my breasts were removed and reconstructed with tissue from my abdomen. The medicine I was given to help prevent a recurrence of the cancer left me with (briefly) OCD and (more lingeringly) panic attacks. The psychoactive medicines I was given to help with this were known to cause weight gain, so my traumatic-illness-induced hypothyroidism went undiagnosed until I had gained some 90 pounds. Finally, I was thrown into menopause suddenly in 2011 when a fibroid tumor almost led to my bleeding to death. The doctors felt that, given my history of breast cancer, it would be best to take my ovaries along with my uterus. I am still dealing with the hot flashes from that experience.

I have two sisters. I sometimes look at them and wonder whether I would have aged as they did or some totally different way. I am glad that I got to age at all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I’d been left to age normally. Could we PLEASE find a way to stop this disease so that women can age as they should. The mastectomy got rid of the cancer by removing anyplace it could go. I don’t consider that a cure. I know this can be done; many other cancers have a successful treatment. I wonder if all the hype is slowing up the research. There is a lot of money in “support” for breast cancer “survivors”. That money would go away if a cure were found. Do our “supporters” really want a cure or is the money just too good to let go? By the way, I am neither a “survivor” nor a “victim”. I was sick and now I am well. That is all! Now, let’s find a way to achieve that without maiming women for life.–TSG

4 Responses to “if i had been left alone”

  1. 1 Elizabeth
    September 3, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I am near the beginning of all this – just had a mastectomy, and am wondering if the suggested hormonal therapy will age me — I also am unsure about all the hype about bc – it’s all a bit touchy-feely and pink – yes! concentrate the money on research for cures and better-targeted treatments!

    • September 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      The suggested hormonal therapy for pre-menepausal women (Tamoxifen) is what gave me OCD and panic attacks. I was on it for less than 6 weeks. It took 2 1/2 years for me to regain my mental balance. I don’t remember a lot about those years and this makes me angry. When I started the Tamoxifen, the doctor told me that they had no way of knowing which women needed it and which did not, so they were medically obligated to offer it to everyone. If I had it to do again, I would refuse the Tamoxifen. With no family history, clean living and having nursed my children until almost a year; I only had a 5-10 % chance of a return of the cancer. The Tamoxifen was only going to halve this to a 2.5-5 % chance. Considering the effect on my quality of life, it wasn’t worth it. I have been clear for 10 1/2 years now. This is just my experience, but it might help you decide. Remember, it is your body and your life. Best wishes!-TSG

      • 3 Elizabeth
        September 4, 2013 at 9:24 am

        It’s not tamoxifen for me (though I had to point out the contra indication – a dvt when i was pregnant). It would be Goserelin (Zoladex) to bring on the menopause and Anastrozole (Arimidex). As for you, the benefits are small – probably. But there’s a school of thought (not quacks either) that suggests that surgery itself may upset the body’s equilibrium which deals with dormant cancers, and the highest recurrence rate is in the first 2-3 years. Difficult, eh?

      • September 4, 2013 at 11:33 am

        The whole thing is a mess. I can’t help but think that if it were primarily men who got this, we would not be still trying to fix it. One doctor (whom we never went to again) spent five minutes explaining to my husband how my reconstructed breasts would look and feel exactly the same to him. Then, he turned to me and said, “but you will never feel anything again”. As if this were just a secondary consideration! There is definitely some bias working here.

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