I am so, so tired.
Tired in my bones tired.
New mom, breastfeeding, up all night tired.
Dissertation-writing graduate student tired.
Struggling writer finishing a manuscript tired.
But without the baby, the dissertation, the manuscript.
Three weeks ago, my oncologist switched my hormone supressing cancer therapy from tamoxifen to aromasin, an aromitase inhibitor. Aromasin, like Arimidex, which you may have heard advertised on the radio or at the 3 day walk, works to prevent recurrence of hormone-positive breast cancer by blocking the production and circulation of estrogen. Aromasin is recommended for post-menopausal women, while tamoxifen is best for pre-menopausal women.
Like most steps of my cancer journey, I fall into the long tail of women who are neither or both, as I was pre-menopausal (and 34) when this all started, but, after 6 months of chemo, 3 years of tamoxifen, and the removal of my ovaries, I am now utterly and thoroughly post-menopausal (and 36). Which hormone suppressant should I take? Nobody knows. There are no studies.
There are no studies.
There are many, many women who have become menopausal through cancer treatment, including many of my IBC sisters, who don’t have any scientific guidance on which hormone suppressant to take. We don’t know whether tamoxifen, which ravages a woman’s hormonal production and causes all kinds of unfortunate side effects (I’m not going to get graphic; my dad reads this blog), or aromasin, which does the same and in addition strips women’s bones of their strength, causing 40 year olds to develop osteoporosis and all of us to be tested annually for early detection, causes untold aches and pains where none were before, and generally wreaks havoc, will work at all for us. It’s not been studied.
So, like the good girl that I’ve always been, I take my medicine, say my prayers, and hope that one or the other (or both) works, and my body can fight off recurrence for a few more years, until I’ve gotten some projects under my belt, published my book, written and published a follow up, raised my children, and checked off some more things on my “bucket list,” all the while knowing that the medication is only “probably” going to work for me, and my sisters in this pre/post menopausal gray zone.
Oh, and did I mention that it causes insomnia?
I have not slept more than two hours at a time, three to four hours a night, in almost three weeks.
But I’m a good girl, and I take my medicine … and pray.