(19-03-04) A Crappy Day – Pun Intended

3:32 am.

I awake with a start at the all-too familiar feeling of something moving around in my left knee. The cancer cells are on the run. Within three minutes, I’m already buzzing for the nurse. Gotta try to stay ahead of the pain this time.

The Spanish-speaking Sunday nurse takes her sweet time getting to my room. I’m guessing i probably woke her up, so almost ten minutes pass before she opens my door.

“Tarah?”

“The pain has started. It’s in my knees.”

“Pain?”

“Yes, pain.”

“Estomago? ”

“No, joint pain.” I point to my knees.

“Oh, okay,” and she leaves.

I expect her to come right back. With every passing minute, the pain intensifies and travels, moving along my left elbow, hand, and foot. The tears flow, and my moans are probably waking up the patients across the hall. Five minutes pass, and i press the buzzer again. I know i am being impatient, and I simply don’t care.

At 3:54, she brings me a shot of pain medicine, then leaves. I settle into a breathing activity to push through the pain and return to sleep … which works for about an hour.

5:05. Again, I wake with a sudden start from the jolt of joint pain. I knew that shot wasn’t going to cut it, but the weekend staff doesn’t understand the magnitude of this pain. By the time the nurse returns to my room, i am sitting in a pile of my own shit, rocking back and forth crying. I had literally shit myself, needing to go to the bathroom but unable to stand up due to the amount of pain in my feet, at this point. I don’t tell the nurse about the mess in my bed – partly because all i can focus on is the pain and partly because i am beyond mortified. Instead, i just lay there in fetal position, silently crying and slowly rocking while she hooks me up to a drip bag that contains more pain medication. When she leaves, i continue rocking, crying, and deep breathing for about a half an hour before the pain subsides enough for me to get out of bed and clean myself up. By this time, it’s after 6. I rinse myself off and then strip my bed. Laundry facilities are only open to the patients from 4pm-7am because the cleaning crew needs them during the workday (and i have already pushed my limits with this timeframe twice since i have been here). I attempt to run the bedding and my robe downstairs to at least get them in the washer before the staff get there, but i am too weak, and i buckle under the weight of all the linens. So instead, i throw the smelly pile down into a corner of the room, move over to the spare bed, and curl up in defeat as i wait for the pain meds to take effect.

* * *

That was how my day started. It really didn’t get much better from there. The day itself was filled with low appetite, non-functioning taste buds, cotton mouth, fatigue, head fog, weakness, a sore throat, nasal drainage, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, heavy sweating, and – according to Blanca – yellow skin. Luckily, the joint pain never returned for another round, and the cleaning lady took the soiled bedding from a very embarrassed me to launder. And now, it’s 11:35pm. The idea of (1) waking with a start to more joint pain or (2) defecating on myself again has me afraid to go to sleep… but my eyelids are heavy, and falling asleep brings me one day closer to going home.

And I*really* want to be one day closer to going home.

(19-03-02) Mini Rants

I am convinced my physical and mental states have deteriorated so much this week as a result of the cumulative effect of all the treatments i am getting. When i first got here, they dosed me exclusively with immune-boosting drip bags, building up my body to prepare for the fight ahead. (Sigh – i was feeling so invigorated then!!) From there, they introduced two of their standard cancer vaccines – nothing too serious yet – then one round of chemo. Now, though, as Week 6 comes to a close, my body is juggling four different vaccines and four different chemo drugs every week … and it’s running out of steam. Add sleeplessness, unsatisfying food, very uncomfortable body swelling, and official homesickness, and yeah: Grumpy Tarah is out on the prowl. Big time.

Dear Blanca,

You are, by far, my favorite nurse here. With that said, if you come in my room one more time and deliberately wake me up from a nap for no good reason, i might bitch slap you. No, i don’t want dinner. Yes, i know i have been sleeping all day. I’m fucking tired. I’ve been up since 2:30 and on the toilet since 4. Go away. Stop telling me to go downstairs and get dinner. Look at my stomach. Does it look like it needs food right now? It can eat the gas and the feces in there, for all i care, and wash that meal down with all the fluid retained from the drip bags. … Are you seriously not going to turn the light off when you leave? Blanca, do not TEST me today.

* * *

Dear Nahaliel,

I’m pretty sure that it’s your fault i feel extra shitty today. Saturday is supposed to be one of the two days in the week that i don’t experience any symptoms … yet here i am, clammy, exhausted, body-heavy, with a sore throat and extra mocos in my nose. Yesterday, you were supposed to come take those magnets off of me after two hours. You forgot, and i fell asleep waiting, and those magnets were left on my body for almost three hours. I don’t think that’s going to end well, especially since Dr. Rubio, Sr. told me that he caps those magnets at two hours for anyone. I’m a little nervous about the pain that’s going to hit tomorrow now, but you won’t even be at work tomorrow for me to take my frustration out on you, dammit.

* * *

Dear Dr. Smith,

While I do want to thank you for FINALLY getting me those itemized statements after i hounded you for over a month, what the hell am i supposed to do with a 22-page hardcopy edition? Do you see a scanner in my bedroom? There was a reason i asked you to email me this documentation. I swear you did this on purpose. I thought paying for your stupid tacos the other night would have worked as a subtle peace offering – apparently not. You’re welcome, by the way. Guess I’ll be back in your office on Monday night… You can’t get rid of me that easily. I’m just saying – if you dislike me as much as i feel you do, you should just give me what i want the first time around so that i leave you alone.

* * *

Dear Botas,

Stop fucking scratching that one wall. You are literally peeling the wallpaper off. If i have to pay to get that wallpaper strip replaced, I’m gonna toss your ass back out on the street. You have toys. You have a hamper and a chair you can claw. I know you need a damn scratching post; I’m trying to find you one. In the meantime, show some restraint. Are you seriously attacking my foot right now, as I’m ranting about you? Are you serious? How’s this water bottle blast feel right about now? Yeah, run away. You be working my nerves too, today.

* * *

Dear Weather,

Can you PLEASE not rain again tomorrow morning? I’m going stir-crazy in this room, and my window of opportunity for walking tomorrow is going to be minimal – especially since Nahaliel left those magnets on, and i don’t know what time that joint pain will hit me. Please take pity on this miserable White girl from AZ and just hold off on raining until later in the morning. I know the forecast says there is a 40% chance it will be raining by 7. Please. Work with me here.

Sincerely to all of you motherfuckers,

Tarah

(19-03-01) Insolent Moments

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. One of my favorite psych theories to reference. According to Abraham Maslow, seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth is what sustains our motivation in life as human beings. The first month i was here, i was in full-on self-actualization mode: visualization activities during my vaccine treatments and nebulizer sessions, mindfulness practices when receiving the four rounds of chemo each week, deep-breathing moments in time of doubt, daily reflections via blog and personal journal entries, etc. I was working hard to understand the kind of person i want to make sure i am once i survive all of this (again), along with what steps i need to be taking this year to get to that version of myself. In this past month, often between the hours of 2-5am, i realized some things that have been holding me back, and how to move forward from those past experiences and personal barriers that i have put in place. I also had a couple revelations about myself in regards to what i want my future to look like. Being here has opened my eyes in more ways than one.

But alas, staying focused on self-actualization only lasts as long as all of the other needs on the triangle are being fulfilled … so threats to my basic needs take me away from the space I’m trying to stay in and instead thrust me into the spaces that are necessary to be in in order to get my physiological and safety needs back on point. Sleep: not getting it. Healthy food: still somewhat of an issue. Physical wellness: spotty after a week of intense side effects from cumulative vaccine and chemo doses. Sense of security: wavering in the face of looming financial concerns. I bring all of this up to say that as I’ve regressed back into addressing some of my deficient needs, I’ve also regressed in my approach to getting some of those needs.

In short? I’ve been a little bratty.

Yesterday, i petulantly told the nursing staff that i would not get hooked up to another drip bag until they figured out a way to de-swell my body. I’ve been bitching about being swollen and bloated for weeks now … and yes, a lot of it revolves around superficial vanity, but it’s also uncomfortable. When my entire midsection is extended, eating becomes painful. When my legs swell up, walking around town and up/down stairs becomes problematic. And by yesterday, my body had swollen so much that we could no longer identify my ankles or knees in either leg. My thighs looked like tree trunks, and Blanca even cracked a joke about my emerging double chin (not fucking funny, Bianca). So after throwing a slight tantrum, Blanca gave me some liquid version of a water pill, compressed my ankles with gauze, and had me elevate my legs for most of the night as i waited for the medication to take effect. Twelve hours later, i have peed four times, my ankles are back, and i feel a little relief in my legs and abdomen … but until i can button up my jeans again, i am going to insist on daily water pills BEFORE allowing them to hook me up to any more drip bags.

I also got into it with Dr. Smith last night. Dr. Smith is the weekday nighttime doctor. I have very limited interactions with her, but she is the doctor who handles a lot of the clinic’s paperwork needs … So for four weeks i have been trying to get her to give me itemized statements of my treatment here. She blew me off the first week i asked, so i took to stopping by her office every few days around midnight to follow up with her. When that didn’t work, I consulted with Patient Advocate Carolyn about how to better approach the situation; upon Carolyn’s suggestion, i handed Dr. Smith a list of exactly what information i need the invoices to include. Still nothing. As of last night, i had had enough.

“Dr. Smith. Every night i come in here, and you tell me the same thing. You’re working on it. You’ll have something tomorrow. Why does it take a month to give me a rundown of my bill?”

She proceeds to tell me all the same excuses I’ve been hearing for the last four weeks. I bite my lip a lot to keep myself from interrupting her. I can feel my 4-year-old Tarah waking up.

“Yes, Dr. Smith. I have heard all of this before. I know you’re busy. I know you have other patients coming and going. I know we got new inpatients this week. I know you’re trying to cross reference nurse logs to make sure everything is 100% accurate. … But i also know you have promised me these documents half a dozen times already, and you still didn’t answer my question about why it takes a MONTH to get this paperwork. I pay my bill on time every week. I should get the same respect in return. I need that paperwork for insurance and tax purposes.”

“I know, Tarah. I will have something for you tomorrow.”

“How much do you have finished right now?”

She swindles her computer monitor for me to see, and i notice the date at the top: 28 de enero.

“You’re still working on the second week?!”

When she nods her head and offers no apology, my mature self folds into itself and moves aside to let bratty Tarah come out to play.

“This is ridiculous. I have been patient long enough. If I don’t have my statements by Monday, i am not paying my weekly bill. My dad will not pay for it [lie]. He’s been on my case to get this paperwork for weeks now, and he thinks i am not following through with what he asked me to do [more lies]. So if i don’t have these documents from you by Sunday, i will be refusing to make any more payments until i get them.”

She tells me she’ll have something for me tomorrow before she leaves around midnight. I give her a long look to let her know i don’t believe her, sigh melodramatically, reply, “Yeah okay, Dr. Smith,” and leave her office.

So yeah, i’ve been kind of bratty these last 24 hours. Distracted from my goals and bratty about getting my needs met. As my sixth week here crawls to a close, i can definitely say i am over being a patient who has to rely on hospital staff to help me get my needs met. I’m ready to come home.

(19-02-26) Conversation w/the Doctor

Dr. Rubio, Sr’s devious glint in his eyes let me know he was starting off our daily check-in with a bit of teasing.

“So, i heard you had a good Sunday.”

“I did NOT have a good Sunday. ”

He laughs at my pouting face, and we discuss symptoms, Sunday staff, and changes in drip bags for the next two days. At one point, he mentions the magnet vaccine.

“It hit faster and harder because you went for two hours. Next time, we go back to one.”

I protested. “No, i want to keep it at two. I’m here to beat this cancer. I know it’s going to be painful… but i want to do the maximum.”

He agreed to keep it at two, so I’ll probably get another round of that on Friday? (I forgot to ask him that.)

From there, we proceeded to discuss my timeline here, and here is the basic gist of our conversation.

  • He wants me to stay for two more weeks. His goal is for me to get my TNF number down to 45-50 before i leave. I don’t see that happening in just two weeks, but we’ll see….
  • Then, he wants me to come back in a month for a week of treatment. I have already booked my flight to return here the week of April 29.
  • He wants me to return for another week of treatment in June. Well, he said another month, but i would hold off until my students are on their school break.
  • At that point, we’ll decide whether i can just start coming for maintenance treatments once every six months or if i need to keep it at three for a while longer.

We also discussed the home program in more detail – specifically, the shots. I learned that the shots are doses of the vaccine and my stem cells. I didn’t realize I’d have access to my customized vaccines and stem cells at home, so i got a little excited about that. I’m a little less excited about giving myself shots every day, but he once again reassured me that he would show me how to do it properly before I left. He also confirmed what Erin told me a few days ago – that following the home program will allow my TNF number to continue going down even when i am not here in Tijuana. Hearing him say this flooded me with light inside, as it was yet another reminder that cancer is right now, in this moment and all future moments, losing its war inside my body. I’M GONNA WIN.

(19-02-25) Sunday Not Funday

Reactions to the magnet vaccine hit a day earlier than expected, and I learned this weekend that Sunday is the worst day here to need some extra personalized attention.

  • There are only two staff present on Sundays: Dr. Melissa (bilingual) and Nurse Mari (almost exclusively Spanish-speaking). This means that two people are responsible for nine different patients, which is a lot, considering some of us can be a little needy when they’re not feeling well (ahem, ahem).
  • Because these two are only here on Sundays, they really don’t know our needs and routines like the other staff do. Hence, we waste a lot of time reviewing information that I feel they should already know.
  • They both pull long shifts on these days: Dr. Melissa, 36 hours, from Saturday night to Monday morning; and Mari, 24 hours, from Sunday 7am – Monday 7am. They get tired. They sneak naps in the middle of the night. They don’t always respond quickly to 3am panic buzzes from my room.

So yeah, if I can figure out a way these last few weeks to get my symptoms to act up any other day of the week besides Sunday, I’m gonna work that out.

On a positive note, Dr. Melissa gave me a bottle of specialized arnica and eucalyptus cream as a pain-relieving topical treatment. Holy cow, this stuff works way better than the Arnica cream I commonly buy back home at Sprouts. She said her friend specially makes it, which makes this gesture even sweeter. Hopefully, I can find a way to order it back in the states…or sweet talk Dr. Melissa into adding some into my home treatment program.

(19-02-21) Battle Time

Yesterday was rough. Dr. Rubio, Sr. warned me that by raising the dosage of the vaccines by 1,000cc’s, I was going to experience an increase in side effects, and he wasn’t exaggerating. Meals and drip bags were brought directly to me as I spent the entire day inside my room, alternating between crying real tears of pain in the bathroom and rolling around in my bed making obnoxious moaning noises that probably made my Amish neighbors blush and say extra prayers for my fallen soul. I got to experience another round of that intense joint pain, where the dying cancer cells are fleeing the battlefield and all rushing towards the same places – in this case, my right knee, both elbows, my hands, and my feet. My mindfulness activities failed me once they hit my hands, and I begged for (natural) pain medication at that point, which they administered from 12:30pm all throughout the night.

Right now, I have a temporary reprieve. I’m still feeling sick, but showers help with the fever flushes, and the pain meds are masking the body aches and stomach cramping. My stomach is even growling for solid foods right now … and today I am going down to the kitchen PROMPTLY at 7:59 because we currently have some bigger, farm-sized Amish patients who leave me NO eggs in the morning when I get there at 8:30. Not today, boys. Not today.

I have been warned another round is coming, especially since I am getting the electromagnetic vaccine tomorrow. I am preparing my mind for battle once again. Luckily, I have a little soldier in my corner who brings me both comfort and joy in my time of need ….

4am snuggle sessions
taste-testing my dinner
watching TV with me after I just finished crying

(19-02-11) Delayed Reaction

{Warning: boob shot below}

… And here I thought I might not have anything to blog about today.

A BREAKDOWN OF EVENTS

11:00 – I get my third drip bag of the day: a bag of iron. I take a book outside to read by the pool.

12:30 – Adrian comes out to ask me for my credit card so that I can pay my weekly fee. As I hoist myself up off the lounge chair, I feel a weird twinge in both my knees. I shrug it off, although I do notice I struggle a little walking up the stairs to my room.

1:15 – As I am changing out of my clothes and into my ozone therapy suit, I notice a rash has spread across my right breast. I also notice that I am having trouble lifting my legs to get into the suit. Something doesn’t feel quite right in my knees.

1:35 – Lying in bed receiving my ozone treatment, the pain in my knees is starting to intensify. Initially just some tightness, it has now escalated to pulsating and throbbing.

2:10 – Nurse Nahaliel comes in to stop the ozone treatment and prepare me for the cabbage wrapping. As I step down off the bed, jolts of pain rip from my knees, up and down both legs. It brings tears to my eyes.

2:45 – I’m back to lying in bed, submerged under cabbage. At this point, it feels like someone is taking a hammer to both of my knees and going to town. The initial silent tears that were coursing down my cheeks minutes ago have evolved into low groans and sobs. When Mario comes in to deliver a package, I ask him to get Dr. Godinez for me.

2:48 – Dr. Godinez shows up, takes a verbal report of my symptoms, and checks my knees, which are swelling. I show him the rash on my breast as well, which has now started to blister. I am crying through this whole conversation, and I’m starting to shake internally from the pain.

2:50 – Nurses come in with drip bags containing pain medication and an anti-inflammatory. I can barely move my legs at this point. Dr. Godinez lets me know Dr. Rubio, Sr. is on his way.

3:10 – Dr. Rubio, Sr. arrives. He asks me what my pain level is, and I tell him, “8…maybe 9.” He takes one look at my panicked expression and immediately unleashes his exquisite bedside manner, letting me know that all of this is perfectly normal, and he’s about to explain why.

Here is what happened.

Remember that nanomagnetic particle vaccine I got on Friday – the one I was worried didn’t work because I felt no side effects whatsoever from the treatment?

Yeah. It worked all right. And today was the day my cells went to battle.

The iron drip bag I received this morning obviously contains metal in it. The metal from that bag triggered some cell activity from the vaccine, and my healthy cells were spending the day attacking the protein casings surrounding my cancer cells. My cancer cells, realizing they were getting beat the fuck up, were scurrying to retreat to someplace safe: my joints. According to Dr. Rubio, Sr., cancer cells commonly retreat to four places to hide and/or die: the liver, the kidneys, the joints, and the bones. That’s why my knees suddenly felt like they were being smashed to pieces; I had a bunch of injured cancer cells rushing in and overcrowding the area, and the metals attached to them were spinning wildly and out of control. Now, they were stuck, and my body needed to figure out a way to flush them out of my system. Nurses returned to the room with more drip bags (containing electrolytes, among other things) to help with this process. Additional pain medication was also administered in 20-minute increments, ice was placed on both knees, an oxygen breathing tube was put inside my nostrils, and Dr. Rubio, Sr. told me to relax and breathe for the next hour in darkness. In an hour, he said, my pain will be gone.

It took about an hour and a half, but eventually the pain subsided to a 2. I felt the pain head to other joints in my body – particularly my elbows, where I can still feel it now at 5:50pm. But I can now stand up and walk around again without wanting to buckle and fall to the ground.

And now I know that the nanomagnetic particle vaccine worked…

…and what to expect later this week when I get the vaccine again: mind-crushing pain to remind me this war is still very much in full effect.

(19-02-04) Breathing Through It

For the past three days, I have refused some of my treatments here. Between being hooked up to multiple drip bags constantly for the past 60 hours and being so bound by side effects, I was in no state to be dealing with cabbage body wraps, ozone therapy, or nebulizer sessions. My only priorities were rocking myself in fetal position as much as possible and making sure I could get to the bathroom in time before shitting or puking on myself.

Carolyn came to visit me today. I haven’t seen her since the day she and the driver first brought me to the clinic. She spent almost two hours with me, finding ways our cancer experiences mirror each other’s and searching to see how she could make my journey here more meaningful.

“How do you breathe?” she asked me at one point.

As a singer, I thought I knew the answer to her question. “Through my diaphragm. In through the nose, out through the mouth.”

“Will you breathe with me?”

I knew three things in that moment.

(1) She was about to take me through a mindfulness exercise.

(2) I didn’t want to do it.

(3) I was gonna do it anyway.

It’s not like I don’t recognize the importance of activities like these. I do. But I am also one of those people who tend to find these kinds of activities a little too hokey for me. This is my ego speaking; I know that. I think I am strong and insightful and enlightened enough to just automatically center myself without having to take extra time out of my day to engage in things like breathing exercises. But that’s ridiculous. Sometimes we have to actively put things in the forefront of our consciousness in order to pay closer attention to them. Sometimes we miss things because we spend too much of our time running on autopilot. So no, Carolyn, I don’t want to spend five minutes breathing with you… But I’m gonna do it anyway.

Through the deep breaths, she helped me take my oxygen to different parts of my body, particularly the parts that are working overtime to handle these vaccine and chemo meds: the stomach, the liver, the gall bladder. She kept reminding me to oxygenate my parasympathetic nervous system, my hips, my bones. At one point, she told me to start thinking of colors coming into my body with the oxygen, and I told her I could already see the colors with the breaths; they were light blue and pastel purple. I pushed the swirling colors all around the organs, the bones, the battlefield, the two armies fighting one another on that battlefield.

Did it make my pain go away? Of course not. But it did leave me feeling a little more open in my core, a little less restricted. And it was definitely calming. I agreed to do it again tonight when I get injected with another round of the dendritic vaccine.

Aaaaand… Right on cue. Blanca is here with my vaccine now.

(19-02-03) – Explaining the Pain

Yesterday was awful, and when I woke up at 12:15 this morning with shooting pains in my stomach, I thought today would be a repeat. It hasn’t been nearly as intense today as it was yesterday, but I am still mostly lying around in bed, rocking myself while in fetal position and reminding myself that my skin will break out if I don’t stop crying. Dr. Godinez said I should have about four more days of this pain. Anything past that will require me getting taken to a hospital in San Diego for an ultrasound.

According to Dr. Godinez, a combination of factors is causing the intense pain in my stomach. The smaller issue is that having enemas twice in one week likely caused inflammation in my intestines, which is why I was getting such intense pain in my lower stomach, below my belly button. For now, we’re going to hold off on doing any more of those, and I will walk to the grocery store in a couple days to try to find foods with more fiber. They also said they could give me pills to keep everything regular, but I prefer to use food, not technology, to handle this process.

The sharp pain underneath my right rib cage is a direct result of both the vaccine and chemotherapy. While smaller meds typically get broken down in the kidneys before the body disperses and eliminates them, larger meds (like chemo drugs) get broken down in the liver. The liver produces this orange-yellow substance called bilirubin, to help digest things like greasy foods (or, in my case right now, chemo drugs), and the gall bladder is the container that kind of houses all this stuff during the process. As both the vaccine and chemotherapy do their thing in my body, my liver and gall bladder are getting a pretty active workout, and that’s why they’re both screaming in pain right about now. It’s all part of the detoxification process.

Side note: Dr. G assured me that this pain I feel is NOT the result of all the tequila I consume on a regular basis. That helped me feel a little better about myself. 😉

Other side note: One of the Mennonite moms stopped me this morning just outside the laundry room to ask me if I was feeling better today.

“Better,” I said, “but not good.”

“Well, you didn’t look good AT ALL yesterday.”

Bitch, don’t you think I know that already?

Of course, I kept this last comment to myself and chalked it up to inferior Mennonite social skills…but I’ll be spending these next few days isolating in my room until I’m ready to go back out there in shorts and a tank top, just to antagonize them. 🤭

(19-02-02) Bedside Manner

I’ll spare you the details of the last 13.5 hours of my life because they are disgusting. Suffice it to say that my body is definitely responding to this vaccine. I can only hope that all this pain I feel is conveying the battlefield inside my body as my healthy cells continue to grow super-arms and wage war against the cancer cells.

At one point, Nurse Blanca was in here, trying to hook up a bag of stomach medication into my IV. A sudden cramp hit me so intensely that I grabbed onto the IV pole to stop from doubling over. Then, I just started crying…and to my absolute shock, Blanca moved in and gave me a tight hug. I felt like we stood there for a solid minute, her hugging me and me snotting all over her scrubs while she said soothing words and rubbed my head. When I finally pulled away, I thanked her, and she smiled.

That would have NEVER happened in a hospital in the United States.

(17-02-16) Quantity Vs Quality

“…but you NEED to take it.”

I’ve heard this statement a lot over the past month or two.  Whenever i tell a friend, a relative, or a doctor that i don’t like the side effects from Tamoxifen, their first response is reminding me that i “need to take it.”

So let me remind you about one of the things you probably love AND hate about me the most:

I do what i want.

Now tell me again what i “need” to do?

I get it.  You don’t want my cancer to come back.  We’re in the same boat with that one.  Cancer treatment fucking sucks, and i would definitely like to avoid having to travel down that path ever again.  But you know what else fucking sucks?  Being miserable. Being miserable fucking sucks, and sometimes when you find yourself being miserable day after day after day, at some point it’s probably a good idea to figure out how to STOP being miserable.

Will Tamoxifen help me live longer?  Possibly.  I mean, that’s the point of the drug – to stop cancer cells from binding to my estrogen and thus being able to grow all throughout my body.  However, it’s not 100% guaranteed.  I could take that effin pill every day for ten years straight, but then still end up with cancer again at some point.  And in the meantime, that pill just got to spend an entire decade wreaking havoc on my body and spirit.  I mean, i’ve only been taking it for a few months, and this is what i’ve noticed:

  • I gained 12 pounds in two months.  My body fat was 1% away from being considered “overweight.”  Fat deposits were collecting in my abdomen and thighs, in a way they hadn’t before.
  • Joint pain was suddenly an issue.  Seriously – joint pain?  I am thirty-seven freaking years old.  I am young and athletic.  It shouldn’t hurt to stand up in the morning.
  • My insomnia was becoming medication-resistant again, just like when i was going through chemotherapy.  How many of you are okay with me doubling or tripling up on my sleeping meds on a regular basis?  … ‘cuz that’s what i was doing multiple times per week.
  • Hot flashes and night sweats infuriated me.  I know it seems silly, but YOU try standing in a desert and having 18 hot flashes in one day and see if you’re not ready to kill the next person who looks at you strangely.
  • Depression and anxiety cycles were creeping up on me more and more.  You know what increases depression?  Body image issues and lack of proper exercise.  You know what increases anxiety?  Insufficient amounts of sleep and lack of proper exercise.  It’s all creating its own little cycle, and i’m standing here, watching it all go ’round and ’round, feeling powerless to stop it.

In the end, it’s not worth it to me.  Many of you may not agree with my decision, but i’m choosing quality of life over quantity.

I haven’t taken the Tamoxifen since January 25.  In these past three weeks, i’ve lost 6 pounds, seen a slight improvement in my sleep cycles, dealt with half as many hot flashes, and noticed how much better my emotions/moods have been.  Dr. Curley prescribed me a different option, Femara, which i picked up from the pharmacy on January 30 but never bothered to even open.  For now, i’m going to try to fight cancer recurrence through diet and exercise.  Trying to completely eliminate sugar from my diet has been, HANDS DOWN, the hardest thing i’ve ever tried to do in my life, by the way … but i’d choose this battle over taking Tamoxifen any day.