After repeated Internet research, consultations with an oncology exercise specialist and an oncology nutritionist this week, five days of obsessive-compulsively logging my food and exercise, and a heart-to-heart with my oncologist, my fear has been validated:
The Tamoxifen is causing my weight gain.
9 pounds in six weeks. 12 pounds since October. This is not an acceptable option for me.
I requested to meet with Dr. Curley to discuss alternatives. “You need to be on Tamoxifen,” he tells me, before explaining to me once again that without taking a medication to block the estrogen in my body, my chances of recurrence are high. My particular cancer NEEDS estrogen to survive.
I stare at him, unblinking. “Yeah, yeah, i understand this … but i need YOU to understand that what i am currently doing to try to keep myself from gaining more weight is not sustainable, and it’s borderline unhealthy. Going to the gym 1.5-3 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, and eating 1500 calories or less is not going to work long term … and if i gain any more weight, you and i both know i will just abruptly stop taking these meds.”
We go back and forth about this for a while, stuck in our own perspectives of what is “best” for me. He sees “keeping the cancer away” as best for me. I see “being proud of what i look and feel like” as best for me. We are not on the same page; i get that. Still, in the end, i am the one who gets to make the decision, and i am not willing to take this drug for the next 9.5 YEARS if it’s adding 4-5 pounds a MONTH.
In the end, we reached a compromise. I agreed to take a smaller dosage of the drug every OTHER day. Meanwhile, he’s testing my blood to see if i am eligible for a different type of estrogen-blocking medication. I agreed to spend the next three weeks strictly abiding by the food and strength training plans that the oncology nutrition and exercise specialists laid out for me, and he agreed that we would figure out a different plan if i gain any more weight in those next three weeks.
I went home and hosted a book club social at my house that evening. I overindulged in food throughout the night, snacking continuously on cheese and crackers, vegetables and hummus, dark chocolate, 1/3 of a vegetarian burrito, and 4 ounces of tequila. 2,531 calories for the day – way over my daily limit, but hey, at least i burned 591 calories from being on the elliptical for an hour. That has to count for something, right??
This morning, the scale showed i had gained 2 pounds.
I didn’t take my Tamoxifen.