It's been a while since I gave everyone an update on my wife Emma's cancer. It's been two weeks since her last chemo treatment and today was her first visit to the oncologist since then. She received very good news.
According to her doctor, her blood tests show that she is now cancer free. He started her on a drug called TAMOXIFEN, which she will have to take twice a day for the next five years. It's a drug that adjusts a woman's hormones when their breast cancer was of a type that can be affected by their hormones.
What specifically is TAMOXIFEN?
This description comes from the National Cancer Institute:
Tamoxifen (Nolvadex®) is a drug, taken orally as a tablet, which interferes with the activity of estrogen, a female hormone. Estrogen can promote the development of cancer in the breast. Tamoxifen is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of breast cancer and for the treatment of breast cancer, as well as other types of cancer.
Tamoxifen has been used for more than 30 years to treat breast cancer in women and men. Tamoxifen is used to treat patients with early-stage breast cancer, as well as those with metastatic breast cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body). As adjuvant therapy (treatment given after the primary treatment to increase the chances of a cure), tamoxifen helps prevent the original breast cancer from returning and also helps prevent the development of new cancers in the other breast. As treatment for metastatic breast cancer, the drug slows or stops the growth of cancer cells that are present in the body.
Tamoxifen has been used for almost 10 years to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women who are at increased risk of developing breast cancer. Tamoxifen is also used to treat women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a noninvasive condition that sometimes leads to invasive breast cancer.
The doctor explained that some of the side effects of TAMOXIFEN are blood clots, strokes, uterine cancer, hot flashes, weight gain, and cataracts. Emma was less than enthusiastic to hear the part about weight gain and hot flashes. She is especially concerned about the hot flashes as she has already been experiencing those for quite some time.
So now, it's just a matter of following up every three months (her next appointment is in December), having regular pap smears to check for uterine cancer, and basically letting life return to normal for now.
Eventually, she will see a surgeon about reconstructive surgery, but for now our main concern will be to get our financial quagmire back in order and stand back on solid ground. But for whatever problems we may have, we are just thankful that Emma is now CANCER FREE!
One final note. Thank you to everyone who helped us through this difficult time with their love, support, and prayers. It really makes things better.