Five days after I began taking Letrozole, I stopped.
The Season had its own set of anxieties and stresses without having the Master-Christmas-Event-Conductor jekyll-and-hiding as a Nice Mom and Raving Lunatic.
Within 48 hours, I returned to my new joyful, peace-filled self I had found post-Tamoxifen.
Then it hit me.
Five days on Letrozole and its mental mind messing exposed the truth of my life on Tamoxifen – at least the last few years of it.
I began Tamoxifen in November 2008, in that crazy uncertain time of still having some bits of breast cancer left in me after my first surgery but not having secured a follow-up mastectomy or mastectomy-with-immediate-reconstruction surgery date.
Tamoxifen’s key role was to insert itself as a blocker between breast cancer cells and their food supply, estrogen. It’s most useful for pre-menopausal women who get breast cancer as it helps manage all that estrogen floating around and prevents the cancer from finding new places to return, set up camp, feed and live (until it unwittingly kills its whole host, and therefore, itself. Like, duh.).
I still had my periods, pretty regularly, the first two years after I started taking Tamoxifen. Whenever that was mentioned to a family medicine doc, or Chemo Doc, they kind of froze in terror and usually asked, “How is this possible? That you still have a period?”
Like, frig off.
You are the doctors. You’re supposed to be reading up on this stuff. Surely I was not the first woman – or the last – this happened to.
“I eat really well and exercise.” Unlike those doctors.
In October 2013, five years after I had started the drug, I was allowed to stop taking it for a period of six weeks to assess my hormonal state. Naturally.
Within two weeks, things changed.
My energy level rose and a fatigue I had been dragging around behind me like a wheel-less trunk vanished. I no longer needed naps if Husband and I wanted to have a nice evening out so I could be awake and actively contributing to the conversation.
I could actually drink a single glass of wine and not end up like a drunken soldier listing badly to the left when making my way to the bathroom at 3 a.m.
I exercised more intensely and frequently.
I enquired about becoming a Les Mills BodyFlow instructor. At 51!
I wanted to eat even more clean, healthy foods. I juiced more greens and had greater resistance to sweets. I had lost the urge to eat whatever was left on the children’s plates.
I stopped dropping sentences in mid-word, wondering what the hell I was going to say next. Even the kids noticed I was carrying complete thoughts and was no longer drifting off in mental mist.
More, I was excited about the next stage of living.
I was dreaming of writing. Of finishing this blog! I felt – for the first time in a very long time – that I had the energy to see this through. Actually. Focus. And. Complete. Something.
In just five days, Letrozole wiped that out. Its mad purpose was to remove every last vestige of estrogen my adrenals produced to starve the enemy – and in doing so, age my body twenty-five years in the next five. Ding Ding Ding! Joint ache! Hair loss! Bone thinning!
In just five days, Letrozole showed me why Tamoxifen had been dragging my butt around for the past two years.
Not content to mess around on the edges or slow boil me till I died, Letrozole went straight to the heart.
In just five days, I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I napped for hours at a time and still slept all night.
In just five days, I didn’t give a horse’s ass about my dreams.
Or about any of that other shit, either.