Escaping October

Thankfully, I’ll be spending most of Pinktober in Armenia, far far away from ribbons and Facebook campaigns and ‘Save the Tatas’ and similar slogans.

http://scatx.com/2012/04/24/this-is-ultimate-result-of-stuff-like-save-the-tatas/

Think for a minute how incredibly insulting and dehumanizing those slogans are to those who are facing a mastectomy, or those who have lived through one. Think how dehumanizing they are to all women.

Think, dammit.

If you want to do something to help breast cancer research, this long term study is open to ALL women. Regardless of where you live, or what your breast cancer status is.

https://www.healthofwomenstudy.org/

Free, user friendly, online, easy, and potentially incredibly useful. This I would appreciate. Take the survey, share it on social media – the more women participate, the more accurate the results are likely to be.

Me, I already did it, and I’m out of here for the next three weeks. Don’t burn the house down while I’m gone.

Posted in breast cancer, cancer treatment, recovery | 1 Comment

Interesting Times

Apparently, I’m doomed to live in interesting times.

First, I’m fine. No Evidence of Disease.

Second, until 12:30 today, that was looking doubtful. I had discovered a mass in my left breast,  above and to the left of the site of the original tumor. The risk of recurrence is highest during the first two years following diagnosis. Recurrence within the first two years also has a pretty poor overall prognosis. My breast hurt, a feeling of aching heaviness, along with occasional sharper pains – pretty much identical to the feeling I had with the original tumor. Much as I tried to convince myself that this was likely to be a cyst, or perhaps part and parcel of the lymphedema, or maybe a strange reaction to the course of progesterone (I’m still feeling the effects from that, though thankfully they have lessened) – well, I wasn’t really convinced. Even with an 80% survival rate, someone’s got to be part of the other 20% and I know it could be me.

I found the mass Saturday, when it reached a point where it was clearly palpable – and I kept checking it. It kept being there. To say I was Not Best Pleased is putting it mildly. I really really don’t want my life to be about breast cancer, and I wanted to go to Armenia, and, goddammit, I had already gone through everything and I’d be damned if I was going to do it again, and I’d be damned if I was going to stop estrogen and return to the sniveling wretch sitting on the floor weeping. So, ok, surgery, but no chemo, no radiation, and I continue my estrogen replacement until the bitter end, and how am I going to tell everyone? And the house appraisal Wednesday morning, and the trip to Armenia, and all and all….

I kept busy all weekend, trying not to think, waiting for Monday when I could call. Reset the brick border in the back garden; rented a carpet cleaner and cleaned every rug in my house, moving all the furniture; straightened the box room; cleaned the downstairs mudroom (with the help of Debbie, who has returned from the hinterlands – hooray for Debbie!); moved another 80 pounds of sand; working not thinking – and broke down in tears now and again.

Monday morning, called the hospital first thing, got an appointment for 12:30 Tuesday. Stayed busy as much as possible, not thinking. Everybody dies; at least I don’t have children.

Can I just say that I love Dr. Harlow? Apparently the mass is an area of fat necrosis from radiation – yah, it sounds horrible, but it also sounds a hell of a lot better than ‘recurrence’ or ‘suspicious mass’. The ultrasound showed no areas of concern, no recurrence.

I left with a clean bill of health.

And there was much rejoicing.

And I’m still going to Armenia, so there!

Posted in breast cancer, cancer treatment, recovery | 11 Comments

Female Troubles

Foreword: I wrote this post shortly after the first ultrasound, but delayed publishing, not wanting to worry anyone, nor dwell on it too much myself. 

I had my second scan this morning, and was released into the wild without having any nasty little invasive procedures – everything seems to be ticking along normally again; no polyps, no thickened lining. My mad genius plan worked! I’m still looking into the possibility of having a progesterone bearing IUD placed at some point – it would, IMHO, reduce systemic exposure (as compared to oral progesterone). I’ll meet with my doctor on the 2nd to check in and will discuss that possibility with her then, though I wouldn’t have it placed until after Armenia (ie, November sometime). O, and my new oncologist seems fine…. *phew*

Let’s start with the positive – I had an amazing excellent time away. Ate great food, hung out with wonderful people, went to the *bestest* music festival ever, scampered over Scotland’s rugged coast, and generally ignored unpleasant realities. It was lovely. I wish I could have stayed longer – though due to a misreading of my ticket*, I did get an extra week I wasn’t expecting – and the weather was brilliant throughout.

And my little patches of happiness did their thing, and all was well and all was well, and all manner of thing was well.

photo credit: Lesley Robertson

And the not-so-fun stuff?

Female troubles – I had a little spotting before going, which I blamed on the bobble in my ERT and didn’t worry about – it had resolved, or so I thought.

It hadn’t resolved – I started having heavier spotting and then frank bleeding while I was away (and completely unprepared for the eventuality, I might add), and that went on for two weeks or so. Not a Good Thing.

I came home – to a rather amazingly dirty house, a cat with fleas, the gardens overgrown, and the lawn all unmown, which I was Not Best Pleased about – and called my doctor, as one should. That was a Monday, and I was scheduled for an ultrasound Wednesday. I’ve had these before, pretty much nothing to get too excited about if not exactly *fun* and I went in expecting nothing but a normal report back – estrogen causes the uterine lining to grow, I’m scheduled to take a 12 day course of progesterone every three to four months (any woman with an intact uterus *must* take progesterone if they’re taking estrogen in order to prevent endometrial overgrowth and Serious Bad Things), and the withdrawal from the progesterone causes the uterine lining to shed – no big deal.

Alas.

The ultrasound showed that not only was the endometrial lining abnormally thick, but I have several endometrial polyps. The standard of care is an immediate D&C – being that I was all unprepared for bad news, I was really unprepared for a D&C, and I didn’t even get the basic information (how many polyps? how big? what type – sessile or pedunculated? etc?) I normally would have. Instead, I persuaded the doctor to go with a ‘wait and see’ approach – I started the progesterone early, last little pill today, everything should flush out over the next week or so, and then we’ll rescan on the 12th and see whether or not there’s still a problem.

The irony of having spent my fertile years being very very very careful to avoid this outcome, and being faced with it now that I’m decidedly infertile is not lost on me.

Right now, I’m bracing myself for a possible D&C on the 12th – I’m not sure if the doctor was humoring me or not in my hopes of resolving everything without invasive procedures; since it’s *very* unlikely that a four month course of estrogen would lead to uterine cancer, and waiting a few weeks longer wouldn’t make much of a difference, he may well have been – and lining up the usual roster of questions and possible alternate solutions *if* this is likely to be an ongoing problem. Cutting down on the estrogen dose is not an option for me – I’ve already seen where that leads, and it’s not pretty.

Bollocks.

In the midst of all that, I’m working on refinancing my house, and dealing with a neighbor who doesn’t quite get property lines (which may yet resolve, though it seems unlikely, and may turn into a total nightmare – neighbors being like partners who you can’t easily divorce. I’d like it to resolve, and I’m not willing to give up my rights, either – I’ve bent about as far as I can there).

And I’ve started bleeding again, in the most unpleasant way possible, about a week ahead of schedule. I’m hoping it means everything is working towards resolution, but it’s a long way from pleasant in the meantime.

O, and I get to meet my new oncologist on the 5th – I fired the old one. All else being equal – there’s not much involved at this point, unless I have a recurrence – I’m going to harbor a grudge against her (the old oncologist) forever for not properly informing me (and for not leaving the room when she wanted me to strip for an exam – *such* bad form! and a dismissal of me as a human), and I don’t need to be putting either of us through that a couple of times a year.

For now, I’m mostly just keeping my head down and plowing forward with what needs to be done. There’s a lot of it. I’m also planning on going to Armenia in October, seeing my family again – it’s been ten years, and it’s time and past.

Onward!

*I’m blaming chemo-brain, rather than innate stupidity. I’d prefer you do the same.

Posted in breast cancer, cancer treatment, chemopause, recovery | 2 Comments

Run Away, Run AWAY!

There’s been a heat wave hanging over Vermont; I’ve got my AC down from the attic where it lived all last year and my bedroom at a temperate 76 degrees farenheit (24.444 c, for the rest of the world), but the rest of the house is well in the 80s and 90s. Another joy of chemopause seems to be heat intolerance – I did fine last year, even in the midst of chemo; this year, I’m melting.

So, bugger this for a game of soldiers – I’m going to Scotland! Where the weather’s *bound* to be much cooler.  I’ve mowed the lawn, I’ve foiled the bittersweet and the climbing roses’s plans for world domination; I’ve engaged a housesitter to care for Zoe (who has been doing a fine impersonation of a furry meatloaf). Bags are packed: wellies, raincoat, and chocolate upmost.

I’ll be back when it’s cooler. Or in August, whichever comes first.

Posted in breast cancer, cancer treatment, chemopause, recovery | 2 Comments

A Bit o’ Good News

In the midst of all the rest – I’ve had my check-ups with the surgeon (the excellent Dr. Harlow, can’t recommend him highly enough) and the radiation oncologist (another recommendation, Dr. Heimann) and I remain NED*.

As with the mammogram, I’m not putting too much stock in this – it’s early days yet, and for something to show up so soon after aggressive treatment it would have to be extra nasty – but it beats the alternatives, eh?

I’ll continue to get checked by one or another doctor every three months for a few years, then I’ll graduate to every six months, then to once a year if I make it that long. Frankly, much as I appreciate their care and attention, I’ll be fine having less of it for a time.

 

*No Evidence of Disease

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Patchwork Girl, Falling Apart

I’ve been figuring out the patches over the last couple of months, learning all the little tricks that go along with any new regime. Things like the .1 patches don’t adhere that well -they’re just too large – but if I cut them in half and apply each half separately they’ll adhere fine; and that they work best at least a few hours after a shower, sooner than that and they tend to peel. Since the matrix is the medium, it’s really important that they do stick – the glue *is* the delivery system, and if it’s not sticking, it’s not working.

I  have to rotate patch locations each time I change over, since it’s a simple osmosis system – the estrogen is moving from a high density area (the patch) to a low density area (me). Leave the placement the same and that particular area gets saturated, which means less systemic uptake – plus the risk of developing skin irritation or a lovely little local bloom of blood vessels. Different areas have different uptake rates, depending on skin thickness, blood supply and underlying tissues and the differences can be substantial – even using the manufacturer’s recommended sites, uptake can vary by as much as 25%. Luckily enough, it doesn’t seem to make much difference for me if the patch is on my butt  or belly or thigh – they all seem to work reasonably well. The recommendations are for the butt or belly placement only, but I was told I could place them just about anywhere on my body (other than my breasts, obviously – and as if I’d want to! Estrogen pasties, I *don’t* think so.) and get more or less the same results.

Emboldened by that advice, and by my success so far, I decided to try an off label placement at the beginning of the month- it’s a bit disconcerting to me to have the patches on the ‘private’ part of my body,  and I figured I’d be more comfortable psychologically if I could wear them on my upper arm, like a nicotine patch. Yes, it’d be more visible in the ‘real’ world, but it’d be less visible to me, and that’s what counts. Being cautious, I put a half patch on my arm, and left the other half in its more usual placement.

And it all went swimmingly. I was utterly comfortable with the patch on my arm, much less psychologically troubling, it held on fine, no problems whatsoever with that, and for the first week or so of my off label placement things seemed to be going relatively well – right up to the point where I found myself sitting on the floor weeping for hours.

Apparently, arm placement does NOT work for me – I effectively halved my dose for about a week and a half, my body ran through whatever meager reserves it had managed to accumulate, and then decided it needed to let me know just how unhappy it was. Which was very very very goddamned unhappy, and I shan’t be doing that again soon.

I figured it out on the 15th – the slide was just gradual enough so that I didn’t realize what was going on *until* I hit bottom – and it’s taken me this long to get back somewhere close to the starting point again, with a number of bobbles along the way. Part of that may be due to the unseasonably hot weather – apparently heat makes you burn estrogen a bit faster – but it’s been a slow and disheartening process, two steps forward, one back. I’ll feel as though I’ve turned the corner, well on my way back, and then find myself tearing up again, or exhausted by midday, falling asleep standing up.

It’s immensely disconcerting to lose my self so easily – and having to rely on medication for my self is a bitter pill to swallow. This bobble drove home just how reliant I am on medication now – without it, I’ve no doubt I’d be taking the stage left exit. The way I look at it is that this is all ‘bonus’ time – by rights I’d be dead by now, or well on my way there, were it not for medical intervention – and there’s just no point in bonus time if it’s spent in hell. That’s not living, but existing – there’s no joy, nor anticipation of joy. My brain’s reward circuits fail; nothing brings pleasure, nothing satisfies. Not food, no matter how tempting; not music, no matter how thrilling; no accomplishment has meaning or reward in and of itself- it’s just another thing done in the endless list of things to be done, with no energy to do any of them, and no internal reward for accomplishing any task. The best I can hope at that point is the passage of time without pain – I can distract myself with reading for a time, but the least bit of emotion tips me into tears again.

It is a completely miserable place to be. It is also utterly unlike me – I’m the one who plants thousands of bulbs every fall, who has colonized my neighborhood’s greenbelts with gardens; the person with a half dozen projects – at least! – going full tilt boogie at any one time; tearing up floors and tearing down walls, gaily gaily, crowbar and hammer in hand; the one who just gets on with it already, whatever ‘it’ is. I’m the one sitting on the floor sniveling, unable to escape this malaise through my own devices, all my old tricks and gambols turned to dust, worthless in the face of this enemy. In the moment, it’s all I can do to hang on to the promise that it will get better; I can’t really believe it, but I can hold on to the edge of that promise grimly.

That alone, that simple act of faith, takes all my energy.

It has gotten better, albeit much more slowly than I’d like, and not as much as I’d like. I had more energy, more ambition, in the midst of chemotherapy; that’s the sad truth. I was more my *self*. I miss that person, and I’m not best fond of this new one – really, who would be? I’ve proven fairly definitively that it can get a lot worse,  easily and speedily at that; I’m hoping it will get better, but I can’t say for sure yet. I’m pretty sure it did last time, and that’s what emboldened me to try the my little experiment, that I was that much closer to ‘normal’ or what passes for it in my reality.

For now, I’m holding on to the hope that it will get better.

Posted in breast cancer, cancer treatment, chemopause, cytoxan, recovery, Taxotere | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Cost of Chemotherapy

“Privately we may wonder if the despair and depression following a cancer diagnosis will dissipate soon, and so we wait for it to go away instead of telling anyone about it. We may just accept it as part and parcel of the disease and so it becomes a part of who we are. ”

(http://timetoconsiderthelilies.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/an-altered-state/)

For me, it was not the diagnosis nor the treatment nor the fear of recurrence that sent me spiraling into depression but the long term and permanent effects of chemotherapy, effects I was not adequately warned about.

The worst bit about it was that it wasn’t *my* depression, per se – but what I refer to as ‘biochemical fuckery’. Chemotherapy caused premature, sudden, permanent and severe menopause (similar to having an oophorectomy, my body was no longer able to produce any hormones to speak of); this sudden lack of hormones then caused a host of physical and mental problems that I did not know to expect, including crushing fatigue and depression.

Not having been warned about this made it that much harder to cope with, or even to recognize for what it was at first, and being advised to seek counseling or take anti-depressants for what was – to me – clearly a physical problem causing systemic cascade failures… o, that was insult to injury.

I’m not doubting that many people find dealing with cancer diagnosis and treatment depressing – I’ve been on blind dates that were more fun, myself – but I would question how much of the depression commonly seen after treatment is a result of internal processes (as it were) rather than a direct or secondary purely biochemical result of treatment. Even when there are legitimate reasons for depression or anxiety – and I would wager cancer diagnosis and treatment counts – I can’t help but think that they are not infrequently worsened or deepened by the aftereffects of treatment, and that we would all be well served by having these effects acknowledged. It is, at least for me, much easier to deal with biochemical depression when you *know* it’s not about you.

I knew my depression was not a result of my fear of recurrence, nor my scarred breast, nor my no longer being in active treatment – I was quite happy to put the ‘slash, poison, and burn’ year of my life behind me. It wasn’t the persistent lymphedema in my left arm, nor the entrapped nerves, nor the chemo hair re-growth (sparser, salt & pepper, and not my ‘normal’ texture) that had me contemplating suicide on a more than daily basis – I wasn’t happy about any of that, I’m still not, but I can cope.

It took me far longer than it should have to realize the root cause of my depression, and far longer than I would have wished to be treated for it. That could have been easily avoided had the doctors acknowledged and informed me about this possibility from the start of treatment, and if they had been willing to recognize that my depression was a direct result of treatment and treat me accordingly.

My belief is that there is a tendency to discount and/or minimize the impact of treatment (specifically of chemotherapy) both before and after care – and, quite possibly, the belief that if women are informed of this side effect as a possibility, they will then manifest the symptoms (you *know* how suggestible we women are!). Or the belief that likely effects of treatment will discourage women from pursuing the “best” course of treatment, the course of treatment most likely to  lead to disease free survival (no matter the cost to quality of life).

This does us all a great disservice.

It assumes that patients aren’t to be entrusted with their own informed decisions about their own lives; that reducing the risk of recurrence trumps quality of life issues, and that the doctor is more capable of determining what  factors are important in maintaining quality of life for a patient than the patient themselves.

For me, choosing chemotherapy was an utter mistake, and the impact on my quality of life close to disastrous.  It wasn’t the process itself, though that was wretched enough; it was the aftermath. And while I was warned about the immediate and direct effects of chemotherapy, all of which were transitory, I wasn’t informed about the permanent effects. In fact, when I brought up possible long term effects before treatment, my concerns were minimized or dismissed.

ERT (estrogen replacement therapy) has definitely eased the worst of these effects, but I’m left with relying on medication (and a doctor who will prescribe, harder than you might think to find) for my quality of life, something I’m not particularly happy about. I may have to take Effexor in order to continue receiving ERT – it’s something the doctor wants me to take, and she has made it a condition of prescribing ERT. So far I’ve avoided it, but I’ve an appointment coming up on the 12th and I’m sure it will be brought up again – and if it ends up being a condition of ERT, I don’t really have a choice but to take a medication I don’t want and, in my opinion, don’t need; a medication with its own host of ‘side’ effects.

These ugly trade-offs and compromises (and the neuropathy, and the impaired cognitive function, and the host of other lesser changes) have been-  and continue to be and will always be – part of the true cost of chemotherapy.

For me, the reduced risk wasn’t worth it.

Posted in breast cancer, cancer treatment, chemopause, cytoxan, recovery, Taxotere, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Now She’s Well Again…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VKzqAefBVY

Right now, having been at .1 for just about two weeks, I feel my *self* again: I have energy; my physical symptoms are greatly reduced; I sleep well and wake rested; and the crushing weight of depression and fatigue is lifted. It’s good enough that I can almost consider lowering the dose – it’s as though I needed to fill in the backlog of need before my body could adequately supply the ongoing need.

(the only “side” effect I’ve noticed is an increase in the mild lympedema in my left arm & flank- weird, but true. I’m not noticing swelling, but a certain tenderness – and a mild increase in sensitivity in my left breast surgery site. On reflection, I figured out that this is far more likely a reaction to my increased activity level – I’m actually *doing* things, rather than merely sitting t my computer allowing entropy to take over my life – than a reaction to the ERT itself)

It’s fairly amazing… a complete turn-around from the past seven months’ downward trend, and very welcome.

I’m ‘me’ again – or close enough so that I can cope with the bits that aren’t matching up perfectly as of yet, which are mainly physical symptoms and are relatively mild. I want to stabilize at this state for long enough so that I can clearly recognize any changes that occur with the addition of a SRNI – and also just to give my body and psyche a rest from the turmoil I’ve gone through. It’s been a really rough year, from diagnosis to surgery to chemotherapy to radiation to the major and unexpected effects of chemical menopause.

And I recognize that part of that is justification for avoiding taking a medication that I fear – I’ve had such bad effects from psych drugs used for pain relief in the past that even though I *know* this is in a far different subset of medications, I still am unfairly resistant to it. I just got back to myself, I don’t want to lose that again. Add to that the known side effects of Effexor are some of the same effects that I’ve experienced already with chemopause, and I’m understandably reluctant.

I’m putting it off for now – I’ve filled the scrip, but I’m going to wait a bit before starting on emptying that bottle – and I’ll most likely start on a much lower dose than prescribed (looking at the scrip more closely, I found it’s actually prescribed at 150 mg per day, which is a fairly high starting dose).

My gut level feeling is that the doctors aren’t used to seeing patients with the extreme symptoms that I had developed – many women may seek relief far earlier than I did, and they’re more used to dealing with women who are having difficulties with hot flashes and night sweats and some more mild psych symptoms, rather than the full gamut of symptoms I’d developed, both physical and mental. The sense I got was that they were somewhat dubious that I wasn’t having issues (other than hormone depletion) that were causing my symptoms, both physical and mental*.

On one hand, I certainly appreciate their caution, and checking into other possible sources for my symptoms makes perfect sense and I’m grateful that they have – on the other, it’s pretty clear to me after all of this that the source of my problems has been extreme hormone deprivation.

Onward – into the light! And a clean and functional (relatively speaking) house! Progress is being made, albeit slow – there’s a year of entropy and debris to cope with, after all.

*in particular, dry mouth, dry eyes, depression & fatigue, and body discomfort (joint and muscle aches and stiffness) seemed to be seen as uncommon reactions – even though they are all recognized as symptoms of hormone depletion. The hot flashes and night sweats – the more ‘acceptable’ symptoms – were irritating enough, but livable.

 

Posted in breast cancer, cancer treatment, chemopause, recovery | 8 Comments

Went to the Doctor and the Doctor said…

She wasn’t best pleased with the increased dose; understandable, since she had been somewhat reluctant to prescribe to begin with, as any reputable doctor would be, given my recent medical history. However, she ordered some blood tests to make sure my thyroid wasn’t kicking it in as well,  and she wrote me a scrip for Vivelle .1 (the same dosage I had upped myself to). My gut level feeling is that this is going to be the solution for me, once my body come out of the state of severe depletion and stabilizes a bit.

She also wrote me a scrip for Cymbalta (duloxetine), an SNRI (selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) – the theory being that these drugs have many of the same neural effects as estrogen, and can act as compliments with HRT.  Despite understanding (to some extent) the science, theory, and reason behind prescribing the drug, I am extremely reluctant to go the next step and take it; even more so as my insurance will not cover Cymbalta but bumps me over to Effexor (venlafaxine), which is in the same general class of drugs but has a longer history of use and a longer list of undesirable effects, many of which are the very same effects I’m already suffering from.

Besides all that, and despite all evidence to the contrary, I’m completely resistant to messing my body and mind about with drugs – there’s no such thing  as a free lunch and you always end up paying the check one way or the other. Taking an aspirin now and again is one thing; taking major mood altering drugs on a daily basis is another altogether, and I fear the cost of that decision.  Now, taking estrogen (a major mood and body altering chemical) I can justify in two major ways:

1) It’s a naturally occurring substance in my body- if it hadn’t been for medical intervention, I’d be making my own, as I have for the majority of my life. I’m not adding something new to the mix, I’m replacing something that had been artificially removed.

2) Life without it was unbearable. It wasn’t the hot flashes, nor the night sweats, unpleasant as those were – it was the crushing fatigue, the overwhelming depression, the body discomfort and pain, the lack of anything resembling a “quality of life”.  I’m not willing to live that way, which is what it boils down to – and I *know* estrogen works for me, it’s been doing so reliably for years.

Adding something artificial, with a host of possible effects – that honestly scares me far more than any increased risk of recurrence caused by estrogen, especially as I’m just coming out of what has been a period of extreme flux (physically, emotionally, and mentally). It’s been such a long hard year, I’m only just beginning to stabilize, can I not rest?

The problem is that I agreed to try it, as a condition of HRT.

The problem is that I don’t want to.

Posted in breast cancer, cancer treatment, chemopause, recovery | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Double plus good

The .0875 didn’t quite cut it – I managed to last 78 hours without a major breakdown, but I never got full relief, and things were definitely slipping by the end (the patch should last  84 hours, so a bit short). So, I’m double patching it currently, two little bits of sticky tape at .05 each for a total dose of .1. As Ron reminded me, the goal is to feel good.

I have a tendency to want to make the goal staying with the dose the full 84 hours, even when it’s obvious to me that it’s not meeting my needs, so it’s been really good to have that reminder. I want immensely to be a good patient, and most especially I don’t want to alienate my doctor, who is already going a bit out of the normal procedures for me – so it can be hard for me to remember that the goal is really not to make the patch last the full time limit, but to feel good (and keep the dose as consistent as possible).

Keeping that in mind, I found myself slipping down again this morning, only 48 hours after applying the patches – and for the first time I didn’t wait for things to get worse, but put another two on.

I also put a call in to the office, to let them know I’ve been self adjusting my medications, and I’m hoping they won’t view that too harshly. I’ve been keeping careful track – made a little chart up with symptoms down one side, days running across the top, and I track doses and times and all; I’ve been doing this as methodically as I know how, stepping up the dose by increments; and this feels *right*, if still running a bit short.

I feel my *self* again – or pretty close to it. There are still some physical symptoms, though lessened; I’m not quite up to my usual energy levels; but I’m closer to *me* than I’ve been in a while.

It’s nice to be back.

In celebration and appreciation of that renewal – I’ve started the long overdue deep cleaning of the house. Two rooms done so far (the easy ones, kitchen and bedroom); four to go. There will be order once more – as long as I have estrogen.

Posted in breast cancer, cancer treatment, chemopause, recovery | Leave a comment