Mother kissing daughter's forehead Tamoxifen

The Joy of Tamoxifen. No, really!

Let me start out by saying I love Tamoxifen.  Tamoxifen is on my top 10 list right now of things outside of my family that I love.  It’s pretty close to nudging out shoes, but that one needs to be qualified by the fact that watching Adrienne go through chemotherapy knocked chocolate off my list so things got shuffled pretty quickly.  I mean, Tamoxifen is helping my child avoid a recurrence of breast cancer, and it’s the only thing going in from the outside that’s doing that, so what’s not to love right?  

Well…there is this.

“I was just starting to feel normal again, feeling like myself, brain working, body working, and then the hot flashes start happening again and I get snapped right back to, “Hey, remember you had cancer?”

What first popped into my head when Adrienne said that was sadness for her. Of course, it was.  I don’t want either of us to have to go back to how we felt a year ago.  And then there was a “wait a minute” thought.  If something has the power to make her remember, does that mean that there are times when cancer isn’t her 24/7 emotional companion?  That there are twinklings when she feels that much…freedom?

I can’t imagine what it must be life for Adrienne to actually have moments that allow her to forget, even for a nanosecond.  To feel like she fits in her own skin again, to look in the mirror and see her own face, to not be trying to figure out what the heck to do with the mass of curly brown hair sitting on top of her head.  I think it must be a part of moving forward, of living in what it’s “affectionately” called the new normal…whatever the heck that is.  To reach out and touch the glorious, magnificent, ever nebulous thing out there that I don’t even have a name for at this point in time.  The thing that let’s you just breathe for a minute in complete peace.

And then to feel the flush of heat sweep up her body as she desperately pulls off any layer of clothing it’s publicly decent to remove if she happens to be in public, well that just sucks.  

I remember the hot flashes of menopause.  I would be in the middle of a conversation with my family and get up and continue talking as I walked to the patio door and stood outside.  What I didn’t know about hot flashes before I experienced them is the anxiety they produce.  Makes sense, though, that if your body is heating up uncontrollably some primal function of your brain says WE HAVE TO COOL YOU DOWN RIGHT NOW!!!!   I still wake up some mornings and I have thrown the covers on and off so many times you’d swear a whirling dervish had slept there. 

Just made you Google something, didn’t I?

As if a young woman who is still recovering from the trauma Adrienne has been through needs anything else to provoke anxiety.  Seriously. This is another one of those things that goes under the category of “Why Breast Cancer is a Neverending Story”.  Just because chemotherapy and radiation and surgeries are done, doesn’t mean you’re done.  I think the rest of the world needs there to be an end, because it’s more comfortable for them to think there is one, so for lucky young women like Adrienne who are in remission and potentially have a LONG time to live with what comes after the active treatment phase it can be tough to get someone to offer as much compassion as is often required.  As much caring.  As much understanding.

That’s why peer support is so important in The After.  Because the adage misery loves company can have a very positive bent if you let it.  I certainly complained to my like-afflicted friends during menopause, and I found exactly what I needed there.  Usually over a glass or two of not so very fine wine and excellent craft beer.  And a pile of clothes ending up on the floor that had nothing to do with fun times.

I can commiserate with Adrienne about hot flashes, but I was not 28 years old when they started.  It’s not quite apples and oranges.  It’s more navels and mandarins.  The same, but still very different. But here’s my dirty little secret. I am actually doing a little cheer that she has them.  Hot flashes and night sweats are not fun, but studies suggest that woman like Adrienne who have hormone receptor-positive breast cancer who experienced them while taking hormonal therapy, which Tamoxifen is, were less likely to have the breast cancer come back.  So I’m grabbing my pom poms and standing on the field shouting at the top of my lungs.  

Gimme a T…Gimme an A…Gimme an M.  

You get the picture.

The Joy of Tamoxifen…

To read more from Debbie, click here.

Mother…Grandmother…Librarian…Military Spouse…Caregiver…Family Life Educator…take your pick! Debbie Legault was born in British Columbia, Canada to a former RCAF airman father and a Scottish War Bride mother and has lived in other Canadian provinces, Germany and California.  She has been married for 36 years to a Canadian Air Force Veteran and credits him with filling her life with adventure.  When Debbie Legault’s children look at family photos they often comment on how many different hairstyles she has had and that pretty much is her story, that her life has taken as many turns and led her down as many paths as her hair has changed!  Her latest role is as the author of Mom…It’s Cancer, the story of supporting her 27-year-old daughter as they experienced breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

You may also be interested in

Dear Body — A Wildfire Poem
CANSWER HIVE: Talking Breast Reconstruction Pt. 1
Life-Changing Books from the Canswer Hive
50 Carroll Street Toronto, Ontario Canada M4M 3G3
Phone: 416 220 0700
Registered Charity #: 892176116RR0001

Join Our Movement

Follow Us

Donate Now

You can make a positive impact in the lives of people impacted by breast cancer