I’ve had one of those weeks that contained lovely things, happy events, meeting new people and catching up with a whole bevvy of long term friends; genuinely it’s been wonderful to spend time with people who have been in my life for a long time and those who to date have been here a very short but significant time. Our conversations have been varied, probing, professional, illuminating and downright funny. I love genuine people, the ones whose approach is consistent and unconditional, where the conversation is reciprocal, nurturing and also surprising.
I’ve also finished some key pieces of work and experienced that sense of relief that floods in when you press send and your efforts are heading off into the virtual filing cabinet of life.
However this week has also had some less adrenalin charged moments. Monday’s appointment with my Oncologist, Dr De Silva felt a little like standing on the edge of the sea as the waves keep rolling in and over you. In my head I’d thought about this appointment and assumed that we’d catch up how things had gone during radiotherapy, check that taking Tamoxifen wasn’t making me a public danger and I’d sort of be on my way.
It seems that all of the remaining minor side effects of radiotherapy are quite normal and the perhaps not so minor side effects of Tamoxifen are normal too. Tick ,tick. Then as part of this appointment we naturally talked about strategies to help prevent reoccurrence and any further nasties that might come along. I know that Tamoxifen is part of that long haul programme- probably ten years’ worth or a switch at the five year point to another drug; whatever the research is suggesting then. Then there are the annual mammograms for the next five years (what joy) and if all is still fine at that stage I’ll switch back into the typical 3 year cycle.
Dr De Silva has also suggested that I have an infusion of Zometa once every 6 months for the next three years. You can read a little about Zometa here ( Zometa info ) if you’re interested, but it’s not mandatory! Its primary use is as an intervention is for people with Osteoporosis or bone cancer but in my case it’s been recommended as a preventative of a secondary cancer as it apparently can help bones strengthen and reject cancers from starting to growing there (bone cancers are a common secondary prognosis). So this week we’ve started the investigative process to see if I can have it and it’s looking likely as long as my blood test next week confirms quite how menopausal or post-menopausal I am (just ask Steve).
Another recommendation is for me to take aspirin daily but the jury’s currently out on that one. A large trial has just commenced in the UK to see if it is effective in prevention of early bowel, breast, prostate, stomach and oesophageal cancer. Again more non-mandatory info here (Aspirin Trial) I’m just not sure about taking it and I can’t really put my finger on why since it might seem a no-brainer to you reading this. Need to mull this one over and research a little further re the benefits.
My other conscious side effect is that I’ve gradually been aware that the strength of my feelings about things is definitely reduced and that I’m not keen on I can tell you. Reading through some research I can identify with the term ’emotional blunting’ and it’s described perfectly here:
“The anxiety symptom emotional blunting can feel like you have no emotions whether positive or negative. You just feel “blah” about life. It can be distressing when you KNOW you care about somethings but you don’t FEEL anything about them now. Emotional blunting is also commonly described as knowing how you feel about something in your head, but can’t find it in your heart. It also may feel like you don’t care about anything anymore. In a sense, you have NO emotions about anything or things you used to.”
Gosh it sounds dramatic but I do hope not self-pitying. My guess is that my emotional brain went into some level of shutdown mode as a sort of protective mechanism some months ago in order to help me manage the practical stuff and is yet to fully hand me back control. The brain is a marvellous thing and probably knows what’s best for us so who can tell when I’ll be back in the full on driving seat of feelings and emotions, all I know is that I miss them.
I really grappled with whether to write about this aspect or not but I’ve chosen to because it’s part of the package I realise; even beyond active treatments cancer is still making itself an unwelcome guest.
My view is that honesty is best, so there you have it.