4 Years and Counting….

4 years and countingI recently had my 6 month follow up with my Oncologist, Dr. Elizabeth Tan-Chiu (whom I, along with many others, believe is a genius and real-life Wonder Woman). We were reviewing my chart and were very excited to see that I’m approaching my 5 year anniversary this October.  For those of you who know – and those of you who don’t – 5 years is kind of a big deal when it comes to survivorship.  I’ll be finished with my Zometa infusions, only need to see Dr.T once a year, and, hopefully, be able to stop taking my estrogen blocker, Arimidex. Some ladies have to take it for 10 years – I’m hoping I’m not in that category.  My wonder-woman doctor then told me something interesting – there is a new test called the Breast Cancer Index (BCI) which can help determine how long it will be beneficial for me to take Arimidex. It’s a test performed on the tissue saved from my tumors that were removed and archived – which is another interesting thing I learned – it is mandatory that tissue is saved for 10 years (which was a relief to hear – I thought they had to poke me some more to get breast tissue to test). So, my doc ordered the BCI and it should take a couple weeks to get the results. I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, to find out more about the Breast Cancer Index, visit www.answersbeyond5.com.


My meds have meds


Let me start by saying this – I take more prescription medicine than my 84-year-old mom.  While I’m thrilled that I have such a healthy and vibrant mama – especially since she’s living with me now – it can be a little discouraging taking my multitude of pills day after day.  And, what’s even more special, is that some of the pills I take are to counteract the side effects of my other pills.  My meds need their own meds.  For example, I recently started taking Methotrexate for my Lupus. When my Rheumatologist prescribed it to me, he also prescribed me folic acid. Why? According to the website arthritis.about.com, “Methotrexate (MTX) is a chemotherapy drug that prevents cell reproduction by interfering with folic acid activation. Although very effective, its use potentially may produce serious side effects including nausea, mouth ulcers, blood problems, liver cirrhosis, and hair loss. Prolonged treatment with MTX may also lead to folic acid deficiency. To reduce the risk of these side effects, without fear of interfering with its efficacy, a maximum daily dose of 5mg of folic acid is recommended for those patients taking MTX on a regular weekly basis.” Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Another one of my meds, Arimidex, also has some fun side effects, such as bone pain and weakening, fatigue, and hot flashes.  My Oncologist prescribed me Arimidex after I completed chemotherapy for breast cancer. This medication blocks estrogen, which, among other side effects, can lead to bone loss, which can lead to Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.  I currently have Osteopenia, the precursor to full-blown Osteoporosis.  So, to make sure I don’t fall and break a hip at the ripe old age of 48, I’m taking twice a year infusions of a drug called Zometa (which, you guessed it, has side effects).  I also have terrible night sweats and hot flashes, so I take Celexa to counteract the lovely side effects of Arimidex.  I’m not complaining, just explaining (ok, there might be a little complaining going on, too).  Needless to say, my medicine cabinet is a happening place.

dancing meds

So, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will have to be on one form of medication or another for the rest of my life.  Am I happy about it?  No.  Do I sometimes skip a dose when I’m feeling fed up or rebellious?  Yes (please don’t tell my docs).  But, that’s life – my life.  And, since I want to have as healthy and awesome a life as I possibly can, I’ll keep my medicine cabinet stocked – and make sure my meds take all their meds.

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