Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stopping

It's 2:15 AM and I am awake and anticipating my oncology appointment today. It's the long day for me...labs, meet with doctor, chemo. Will probably be there 6-7 hours. It's also the appointment that could change my life...for at least six months if not forever.
I'm quitting one of my cancer drugs. Tamoxifen. If you are familiar with breast cancer, you know it's the pill you take everyday for 5 years that blocks all of the estrogen receptors in your body. It's the one for ER+ breast cancers. The one that is supposed to cut the risk of recurrence by 50%. For me though, it's the one that is causing fatigue beyond belief, terrible pain in the bones of my legs, horrific hot flashes that leave me feeling like my body is on fire, and depression. This drug builds up in your system and the side effects gradually get worse over time. All of these things have been happening since I started the med, but they are just now at a point where I feel like my quality of life is suffering. In my last post I talked about the intense pain that I thought was being caused by the IV chemo I am taking, but upon speaking to my doctor, it was brought to light that the more likely cause is the Tamoxifen and that the chemo is making it worse. I was given pain meds, but I don't like to take them because I have 2 pre-schoolers at home and it's just not safe. 
This has not been an easy decision to come by and one that I am sure many people are thinking is dumb. Trust me, I've thought that too. I've tried to talk myself into staying on the med just until January when my brother gets back from Afghanistan. The rationale being that if he can deal with the hell that he is in, then surely I can too. I've tried telling myself it will all be worth it in the end, that I am not a quitter, that I just need to suck it up and count myself lucky for being able to get this medicine etc... However, the physical symptoms now are just outweighing everything else. I feel like if I can just take a 6 month break from it...even 4 months, that I will be able to go back on it after the summer and deal with it for 2 more years. That if I can just get a little quality of life back that it will motivate me to know that it WILL get better in 2 years after the drug is stopped forever.
I've struggled with the "what if it comes back" aspect of it and actually talked this over with one of my friends who has breast cancer. I came to the satisfying conclusion that if it ever did come back that I would probably blame myself, but that even if I took the medicine everyday as originally planned without stopping that I would blame myself then too. I would probably wonder if I could have eaten more broccoli, kale, ginger, etc... Or instead of working out 3 hours/week I should have done 5 hours/week. I just feel as though if my disease were to come back on it would be because it was the plan that God had for my life. That round 2 would be another way that my life could potentially glorify Him.
I think now is the time to do it since I am getting the intravenous chemo for the next 6 months so I will be covered by something. Granted, this one doesn't block any estrogen, but it does kill all Her2 cells which cause my cancer to grow very aggressively, so if they start cropping up again during my "holiday" from Tamoxifen, at least that drug should kill them.
I am stepping out on faith. I am stepping out trusting in Jesus and the scripture he gave me 3 years ago...John 11:4 - "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." I don't know what the end result will be, but do any of us? No. We haven't a clue because if we could see how our lives would turn out there would be no reason for faith. Jeremiah 17:5-8 tells us this:

Cursed is the man
who trust in mere human beings,
who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength, 
and whose hearts  have turned away from the Lord.
They will be like a shrub  in the desert.
They will not experience good things even when they happen.
It will be as though they were growing in the desert,
in a salt land where no one can live.
But blessed is the man who puts his trust and
 confidence in me. 
They will be like a tree planted near a stream
whose roots spread out toward the water.
It has nothing to fear when the heat comes.
Its leaves are always green.
It has no need to be concerned in a year of drought.
It does not stop bearing fruit.

Please feel free as always to comment, but if you disagree with my decision please be respectful. It has taken me a long time to decide this and did not go without tears, prayer, and fear while making it.

6 comments:

  1. I think you have to make the right decision for you, and with careful prayer and consideration, you are doing just that. You are such an inspiration and an admirable woman, Kelly! You bring so much glory to Him in the way you have handled this over the years. I hope someday you publish this blog in a book to encourage other women going through the same struggle.

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  2. Kelly, Oh, how I feel your Pain, Depression and Questioning! I didn't have breast cancer but non-hodgkin lymphoma and I felt all of those, but in a different way. You have made the right decision for now. I agree, with two wee ones at home your responsibility for them and their demands on you, you need to have everything available to make it through this unexpected season! Two thoughts - one, since you have made your decision, don't second guess yourself. Two, you are right, none of us know what any of our end results will be but thankfully Someone does! And you know who that Someone is! Cyndi Heath, Lakeside, MT http://advocateofhope.wordpress.com

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  3. You have to do what YOU feel is right for you, David and the kids. If someone has something to say regarding your treatment plan that is anything but reinforcing your decisions, just simply tell them you'd prefer they keep it to themselves! You need only to be surrounded by positive, supportive people!

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  4. Kelly, ultimately, you have to do what is best for YOU. you've talked awhile about feeling that God has healed you and now you are taking that big step of faith. always follow your gut and do what is best for you. i am proud of you! focus on rebuilding your system with whole foods, getting your energy back, and taking care of your family. (((hugs)))

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  5. Do what works for YOU! No matter what happens, you have an army that will uplift you in prayer. Leave any doubts at the feet of the cross and step out in faith.IF it comes,be sure none of us will ever say it was because of this break.We know it sometimes comes back even while people are on Tamoxifen. There won't be blame or guilt-trips from those who love you.

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  6. You are an amazing woman of faith! God is speaking and you are listening! Walk tall beatiful woman of God and trust Him to close/open any doors He is calling you through! Praying for your COMPLETE healing and God to dissolve any doubt in your heart!

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