Letrozole and Life

Letrozole

I admit that it has been difficult to be thankful for Letrozole lately, even if it is keeping me free of cancer at the moment.

It seems like it places me between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Do I take the medication and live longer but with extreme pain? Or do I quit the medicine and feel better in the short term but have at least a 50% chance of recurrence?

At the age of 44, I am too young to become housebound. Even during chemotherapy, I was able to exercise at least one hour per day during my weeks off from treatment. Now I struggle some days to just make it to the bathroom or simply get off the couch.

Also, my thinking became somewhat suicidal last week. I thought everyone would be better off without me. Whether it was the stress of the divorce or the medication, I don’t know. I took a couple of days off from the medicine and feel better. I have resumed taking the Letrozole, so I suppose I’ll wait and see if the thoughts return.

At this point, I’m not sure what I will choose in the long run. I’m going to stay on the medication for now and hope that things improve.

Things have to get better, right? I’m praying that they do.

One Little Pill

One Little Pill

I suspected.

Some would say this might be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I know more than one woman who would agree with me. Letrozole has had the biggest impact on my life in the short term, and not in a good way. The pain on Letrozole vs. Anastrozole is so much worse than before.

And I have not been on the drug for very long.

Indeed, only two weeks. According to my friend who tried this medicine first, the pain did not really hit her until about now. She was taken off of the drug after her thumbs became frozen.

Doing any sort of work has been nearly impossible for me as it causes extreme pain, so much so that I can’t sleep. The house and yard are going to pot, but I’m still alive, for which I’m grateful.

Some times in your life, you realize just how fragile your body can be. I miss the strong, healthy body that I used to enjoy. One that didn’t cause me pain each and every day.

Still, I’m alive. And that’s a blessing.

Choices in Treatment

Choices in Treatment

Some may believe that making a choice as far as cancer treatment is easy. Suffer for a little bit and live, right?

The difficult part is walking down the path that you have chosen and accepting the consequences, whether good or bad. No matter the decision–strictly allopathic medicine, natural remedies, or something in between–the results may be positive or negative, and often not even the most experienced doctor can predict survival.

And when it comes to long term treatment like anti-estrogen therapy, the choice may be a bit more complicated. For a friend, ten years of medication only added 3% to her survival rate, which was more than enough for her to begin the medicine. On the other hand, considering I had inflammatory breast cancer, a cancer that is much more aggressive and difficult to treat, anti-estrogen therapy added 30% to my survival rate.

So if I follow all of the advice from my doctors–all based on world-wide research–my possibility of living a full life is currently at 80%.

What is often not discussed is the pain associated with these medications. I have been on Anastrozole for a few months now, and the body-wide bone pain has begun to increase dramatically. This may be possibly due to the current stress in my life, or simply just the medication itself building up in my body. Needless to say,  the pain some days can be unbearable.

So in the latest visit with my oncologist, he encouraged me to try Letrozole. This might be a better medication for me in the long run, but it will put me back to square one as far as pain. My body will have to become used to the new medicine, which means more pain in the short term. And this could all turn out to be a fool’s errand, becoming an even worse experience and leading me back to Anastrozole.

Honestly, it would be easier to quit the medication totally.

Reading The Last Arrow by Erwin McManus, I found a passage that made me reconsider that possibility:

“Sometimes the only way to set people free from the past is to create a different future that gives those all around you the inspiration and hope to set their own past on fire.”

Or as a friend told me after my most recent diagnosis, “Perhaps you were not meant to learn something from your suffering. Maybe you were meant to teach others how to live through it.”

So pain will be my companion for awhile. Some days I will break from the exhaustion, but I will not quit. And perhaps my continually rising up after defeat, even in the midst of pain, will give others hope.