Sunday, February 17, 2008


I suppose because I squeaked my way out of chemotherapy, I didn’t put up much of a fuss when Dr. Bertrand prescribed the Femara.

Femara is an estrogen blocking drug. The invasive cancer that was removed from my breast was 10% estrogen-responsive, which means that in the presence of estrogen, it grew faster. The theory now is that if there are any more of those cancer cells in my body, if there is no estrogen around, they will not grow or spread.

Since I am post-menopausal, most of the estrogen in my body comes from adrenal androgens rather than my ovaries. These androgens are converted into estrogen by an enzyme – the aromatose enzyme – and Femara works by blocking this enzyme.

My problem with all of this is that there must be a reason that my body continues to produce and need estrogen after menopause. Long term effects of blocking estrogen are not known. Of course, the Femara website touts the wonder of the drug with happy-looking women graphics. Just like they did when they prescribed Hormone replacements en masse for women 10 years ago - before they admitted that women who took the drug had increased chance for breast cancer.

But the doctors seem to think that my chance for a recurring cancer outweighs the risks of taking the drug. And they want me to take it for 5 years!

I’m on my 5th day.

The list of side effects is daunting. Hot flashes, sleeplessness, muscle aches, fluid retention, weight gain, fatigue, headache, dizziness, bone fractures, nausea, etc.

I try not to focus on the list because I’m susceptible to psychological suggestion side effects – if you tell me I could get it, I will. But I do feel tired, ach-y, and bloated. My throat is dry and sore. I think that I have bad breath. This is after a few weeks of feeling really good after the mastectomy.

I guess I am feeling a bit depressed of late.

John and I are trying to get away some before my reconstruction surgery on March 12th. We visited Eric in Fort Myers, and are going to Kiawah Island the last week of February. I am hoping that things work out so that we can get to the Southwest in April.

But I’m learning not to make too many plans, rather to be attentive and follow the cues of life as they are given. Something is unfolding. Trying too hard to impose my own agenda screws up the unfolding.