Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Almost Half of Young Breast Cancer Patients Stop Tamoxifen Early

I was searching for effects of stopping tamoxifen early. Because right now I feel a splitting headache that radiates down my neck, feeling nauseated, feverish and feeling like I'm coming down with a flu.

Its nothing compared to the bone pains, fatigue and sometimes waking up and not being able to get out of bed because of bone and joint pains. Tamoxifen side effects can hit BC survivors worse who are pre-menopausal.

It's not a self-fulfilling prophecy because my oncologist and I didn't know if it was from tamoxifen until I was allowed to temporarily stop for two weeks. Two weeks, that's all the break I could get. Of course it's up to me if I will take my medication again and live the next five years with severe bone pains, exploding hot flashes that feel like being on fire from head to toe, confusion and difficulty concentrating, lack of libido, fatigue on top of fatigue from running after an active toddler, menopausal symptoms and not being allowed to have a child until hormone treatment is over.

I don't want to be part of the statistics that stopped their medication to alleviate the life-affecting and debilitating side effects. USA today and the American society of Clinical Oncologists reported that Half of Breast Cancer patients stop taking hormone drug But I also don't want to suffer for five years. A survivor's body has been a battlefield, from battery of tests to diagnose, to surgeries, to chemotherapy, to radiation and now the side effects of drug treatment. But diagnostic tests, surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation are all time-limited. You see the light of each tunnel and there are options given to ease the side effects. Five years to live with pains seems too long.

I wish there was a way to alleviate the severe side effects among young women to help us adhere to the treatment long enough to finish it. The side effects are not just a list on the drug label. Its real and I experience it.

Help us in this fight against breast cancer. If you can , please help in raising funds for Krissy's Breast Cancer treatment:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tamoxifen and Bone Pains

On November 8, 2011, I was declared NED or No Evidence of Disease by my oncologist.  Commonly, we know it as in remission.  After my blood test results showing no increase in my tumor markers CEA (Carcinoembryonic Antigen), CA125  (screening for ovarian cancer) and CA 27.29 , antigen found in breast cancer patients.

My oncologist told me though that to be declared in remission, I have to be NED for 5 years and to be cancer-free, I have to be NED for 10 years.

Three months have passed again and my blood test recently on January 27 showed that my CA 125 and CA27.29 are within normal limits still but my CEA is elevated at 5.1  (Normal limit is 3.0)  My PET scan, brain MRI, lung and liver scans show that there is no metastasis or spreading of cancer.

However I have been experiencing severe bone pains, tiredness and coughing for more than 1 month.  My oncologist is still trying to investigate where it is coming from.  I asked if it could be from tamoxifen, the hormone therapy drug that I started taking in November to shield me from cancer recurrence.

We are trying to find out the cause. I will be off tamoxifen for two weeks and will come back to see Dr. Audeh of Cedar Sinai to report the difference in how I feel.

I have not been taking Tamoxifen for one week now and I have not been feeling the bone pains and the coughing has gone away. There is still a little tiredness but better compared to when I was taking the medication.

Could it be tamoxifen that makes me feel tired, the bone pains and difficulty in breathing?  These are listed among the drug's side effects from what I read but the statistics are low. On the other hand, I have non-stop headaches.  No pain reliever has helped so far.

Now, I am just relishing being bone pain free. I should be thankful that there is a drug that can help me reduce the possibility of recurrence.  But I wish there were less side effects on me.

If you are taking or have taken or know of someone who has taken tamoxifen, what side effects have you or they felt?  What recommendations were given by your/their oncologist to ease the side effects?

The journey continues... to take tamoxifen and live with the side effects that come with it or take the risk and be pain free?

No one has to face cancer alone.  
If you're a survivor, carry it as a badge of honor. 
If you know someone who is a survivor, give it as a gift of praise and encouragement.
If you know someone who was just diagnosed, give it as a gift of inspiration, that she too, can survive it. 
If you're someone who stood by someone who has fought, is fighting and will fight, 
show your support by wearing and carrying it. 
One doesn't have to be alone in the battle. I wasn't and that's how I survived.

visit and support 
"I Fought I Survived"products to help raise funds and donate a portion 
of proceeds to Young Survival Coalition

Help us in this fight against breast cancer. If you can , please help in raising funds for Krissy's Breast Cancer treatment:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Cancerversary, Inspired to Design and Recent Tests Results

On March 17, I will be celebrating my one year cancerversary's life-saving double mastectomy with modified radical mastectomy removing both my breasts, 2 large cancerous masses and 21 lymph nodes of which 6 were cancerous. 

I celebrate this moment because it saved my life. Although it was a long and hard fought recovery, continued on to chemotherapy and radiation, I live now, one year after, a full life and able to enjoy every single day with my 3-year old son and loving husband, my family and friends.

I searched and found strength in many survivors before me. Those who have also fought and still surviving. Knowing that they have been there and its possible to get through it no matter how hard it may seem. And now I vow to become one of those who can share my stories and give inspiration to those who are about to fight the battle.

I have created this series of designs to help raise funds to donate to Young Survival Coalition, a group of young women who have had breast cancer at a young age and survived it. They have inspired and pushed me to go on because I know they were also young as I was. 
Every purchase will contribute $3 to YSC. It will help young women with breast cancer learn more on how to cope during diagnosis, treatment and getting back on their feet.

click to buy the Black "I Fought I Survived" Iphone 4 Case

click this button to buy the Brown "I Fought I Survived" Iphone 4/4s case

If you're a survivor, carry it as a badge of honor.  
If you know someone who is a survivor, give it as a gift of praise and encouragement.
If you know someone who was just diagnosed, give it as a gift of inspiration, 
that she too, can survive it. 

One doesn't have to be alone in the battle.  I wasn't and that's how I survived.  

P.S.  As I celebrate my one year anniversary, I was given another gift of survival.  My PET Scan, Brain MRI, CT Scans and blood works show no signs of metastasis or spreading of cancer in my brain, bones, liver or lungs.  Although 1 out 3 tumor markers were elevated, my oncologist is running more tests such as thyroid blood tests to determine what is causing this tumor marker (CEA or CarcinoEmbryonic Antigen) to be elevated.  I am also taking a break from my cancer medication Tamoxifen for two weeks to see if it is what's causing my tumor marker elevation and bone pains.

After two weeks, I need to get back on my medication because it is the only shield I have right now against cancer from coming back.

My scan also showed that my right lung was scarred by radiation which has been causing prolonged periods of cough and shortness of breath.  I have yet to see a pulmonologist to help me recover from this.

I will continue to write the progress as tests come in.  Thank you for thinking of me and for the prayers.