Tamoxifen and Chemopause

My medical oncologist told me that I could literally start Tamoxifen the day after completing radiation.  He said I could also wait, but it didn’t really matter.  For all those readers that really know me, I bet it’s not hard to figure out what I did.  Of course I took my first pill the very next day!  So, I am now officially into the 5 year (I think?) leg of my journey/treatment – just have to remember to actually take the stupid pill every day.  Taking Tamoxifen for 5 years is thought to have the greatest benefit, but some women stop taking the pill early to start a family (getting pregnant while on tamoxifen is not an option).  The reason why I put a ? after 5 years is that Bri and I have not thoroughly discussed our plan yet.  We were mostly trying to get through chemo and radiation.  And who knows what kind of research findings might come out in the next few years (hopefully lots)!

I’m hoping I can come up with a system to remember to take my pill everyday.  I should probably mention that I HATE swallowing pills.  My mom said she would remind me during our daily phone calls.  Well, 2 days have gone by and already she failed (in her defense, she does have a lot on her plate right now).  If anyone knows of any effective systems that work, please share. 

While picking up a prescription a few years ago, the pharmacy gave me one of those daily pill holders – you know, the ones that all the old people have!  I’ve used it intermittently to help myself remember to take vitamins daily.  Inevitably, it ends up at the bottom of my purse after a few days (and sometimes, a day or 2 of pills have fallen out).  Hopefully, I’ll figure something out.

I spoke with a nurse navigator the other day and she reviewed the side effects of Tamoxifen again with me.  The biggest one seems to be hot flashes.  Since I’m already experiencing hot flashes from chemo, its likely that they’ll continue and only increase in frequency and intensity. Great!

I found a term out there that’s frequently used by other breast cancer patients – “chemopause.”  It refers to early on-set menopause and menopause like symptoms due to chemo.  And there’s no way to know for sure if I’m officially in chemopause yet, or if I’m just lucky and get to experience all the fun side effects.  Let’s just say that things have not returned to normal, but I might know more in a year or so.

So, as I enter into the last phase of my journey, I’m not sure what kind of updates and posts you’ll see here.  Surely, you don’t want to read about whether or not I remembered to take a tiny pill each day.  We’ll see what I can come up with.

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One Response to Tamoxifen and Chemopause

  1. Thanks for your message! And congrats on being done with radiation!!!

    I know what you mean about the hot flashes, and especially in this miserable weather… yuck! =(

    I have to take Coumadin every night (for blood clots) and when I set the pill bottle right next to my bed, I find that I can usually remember to take it just before I turn out the lights. Or maybe you could try setting a daily alarm on your phone to remind yourself to take it?

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