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Two Weeks on Tamoxifen

It’s been two weeks since I began taking Tamoxifen. I have yet to experience the dreaded side effects and I keep praying that I will not. I’ve had a few hot moments that I thought were hot flashes from the medications but considering that the weather has included record breaking heat with daily temps over 95 degrees, I have to think that some of what I was feeling was what everyone else was feeling too! I am more tired but that is probably due to lack of sleep which I am still having issues with. Note to self: My mom had to take sleeping meds while on Tamoxifen – check with dr to see if there is a connection.

Reconstruction was going well. On June 20, I posted that I had had my first saline injections of 25 cc on each side. This has been followed by another 25, then 50 and 50,  then 75 and last week we maxed it out with 100 cc of saline on each side. I was told that the Dr. began with 50 cc in each tissue expander before sewing me up in surgery. I’ve got a total of 375 cc on each side which is about the equivalent to a can of Coke in each expander. If only that Coke can was standing on my chest rather than laying down horizontally under my pectoral muscles. I’ve got what I call the side boob. It’s okay, laugh. I do out of frustration and to keep from crying. This cancer stuff sucks. I know that nothing is ever going to look like what I once had (they weren’t big, but they were symetical and they were real). I had hoped at least that this process would make me feel more normal but in exchange for that I am in pain daily.

I put on a running tank the other day – the kind with the shelf bra – and it no longer fits. How the heck does that happen? And then I realize its the side boob that makes the shirt unbearable and too tight in the chest. In addition, the tissue expanders are rock hard. I keep hoping that this will all go away after the next surgery when they switch out the expanders for the real implants. I keep hoping that this will all be worth the effort but I’m not convinced anymore. All day today, it has felt like someone was poking me with a fork right along the lower edge of the expanders. I have been excited the past few weeks because I was making progress and my skin was expanding. This week has been different and I am finally understanding why the Dr. said I may be smaller with implants than before surgery. My skin has not moved much since last week’s injections. It is tight and shiny and painful. The Dr. told me that my skin would tell me (and him) when enough was enough. I fear that we are getting close, if not already there. He said he hoped to get me to 500 cc and now I think that was wishful thinking on his part and mine. At this point, I just want the surgery to switch these out, eliminate the side boob so I can wear a decent padded bra and get on with life. The whole point of reconstruction is to create an illusion of your former self and when the magic trick falls short of the expectation, it hurts the soul.

This isn’t about me feeling sorry for myself – far from it. These are just my thoughts about this whole process that is a giant frustration on so many levels. I have been an open book about my experience and I intend to continue for my own sake and others who seek unedited information. I won’t sugar coat this experience. Breast cancer is not some philosophical journey or path. Breast cancer is an ugly nightmare that is lived daily by an increasing number of women and men.  This is the place for me to share my thoughts. It allows me to “get it off my chest” so that I’m not constantly wearing these less than happy emotions on my face.

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Comments on: "Two Weeks on Tamoxifen" (1)

  1. Ruth Vreeland said:

    Dawn, once again, I could have written this from my own experiences … almost identical to your dotted i’s and crossed t’s. So I hope it helps you to hear the following from me … 1) after your implant surgery you will feel 1000% better, and the “iron corset” feeling of tightness and pain and “rigidness” will be gone! 2), I only got filled up to about 440-450 cc’s … and just couldn’t take it any more, despite the fact that I was aiming for 500 cc’s. (I was always a small, saggy “C” and wanted to be a nice FULL C!) My doc told me she’d have to go smaller than my fill amount, due to use of more newly stretched skin being needed for the implant surgery, so I cried about thwt one. So I was DELIGHTED to learn that after “resting for 2 months (at the end of the fills) my skin stretched even more, and became nice and soft … so she ordered 460-cc implants for me, AND THEY FIT FINE!! I am now a nice FULL C for the first time and feel great about the symmetry and “youthfulness” of the look! I am predicting that if you can expand just a little more, you will be very happy with the results. 3), HOLD ON!! I KNOW how painful those things are, as I was on Vicodin the entire summer of 2010, to get me through it all. But I’m here to tell you it IS doable … and it IS worth it all!! Remember that the pain you’re in right now is temporary … and by this time next year you won’t be in ANY pain from the reconstruction. That’s such a wonderful blessing … that it really is just temporary pain!

    You are in my prayers, and will be for a long time. I also hope and pray that the Tamoxifen goes well for you! I just wasn’t a good candidate for ANY of the four meds I tried over 20 months, so God and I are taking our chances now. I know LOTS of women who did fine with it though, and I pray you will be one of them! I love you! –Ruth

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Double Whammied

Everything was going great until this whole breast cancer thing

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