Recovering from recovering

Sitting in the oncologist’s office on Monday listening to her rattle off a list of possible side effects for Tamoxifen, I grabbed her arm to make her stop and said, “You are making this sound horrible.” She smiled, shrugged, and said, “But I’m obligated to tell you these things.”

I’m not sure what this therapy has in store for me over the long haul, but the first four days have been pretty unremarkable. I feel nothing unusual or strange or even horrible. It’s been fine.

I did a lot of online reading, message boards, WebMD, the Susan G. Komen site, and I decided that the best time to take Tamoxifen was before bed. The theory is that if you do feel any weirdness from the dose, you’ll sleep through it.

I shared this with Dr. S. “Sleep is overrated,” she said. “You should watch Outlander. It’s like eye candy.”

My oncologist is a character. She has a kind heart and a caring manner, but she likes to tell stories and joke around. Maybe it’s necessary in her line of work.

She has me on a three times a week dose of baby aspirin because in terms of the big scary side effects from Tamoxifen, blood clots are at the top of the list. It’s rare though. Chances are I’ll more likely be faced with hot flashes and other unpleasant symptoms of menopause, than with a clot in my lung.

When I first came home from the hospital, a friend was making me green smoothies and dropping them off every morning on her way to work. I’ve done a lot of reading about this too, this trend to blend, and I’ve decided that it makes a lot of sense. There is so much literature on the connection between cancer and diet that it seems almost crazy to ignore the fact that eating healthier, cleaner foods is smart.

I’m about a week into my self-imposed green smoothie diet, and all my cravings for sugar have disappeared. I feel lighter, healthier and yes, smart — like I’m doing a really smart thing for my health. I’m giving cancer one less thing to latch on to. I replace one (sometimes two) meals a day with a green smoothie and I have been surprised by how full I feel. When I see what goes into the blender, I have to smile.

I know so many people follow up a cancer diagnosis with a complete change in their eating habits. I think I knew I’d always get here, but it took some time to fully commit. There was definitely a lot of self-talk post-surgery that sounded like this: “I just had a double mastectomy, I DESERVE another brownie.”

Thankfully, I’m moving past that.

So, a few days into the Tamoxifen and that’s where things stand. Almost entirely uneventful. And I can live with that. It feels good to be thinking about the future, to be planning our time in LA, to be focused on something other than simply recovering.

Tuesday will be 11 weeks post-surgery. My Jet Blue app tells me that in 10 weeks, we’ll be in LA. I like that the balance has shifted. It seems a lot like a turning point. I’m recovering from recovering. And that makes me happy.

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