It’s been a while since I updated this here blog, but here I am again – don’t worry, there’s no bad news in store, just a general update.
Work has been a bit up-and-down over the past few months, and I ended up returning to temping while I tried to find a part-time job, in the hope it would help with work-life balance and the fatigue issues I’d been experiencing in full-time work. I recently started working as a part-time vet’s receptionist and so far it’s going ok. Being around cute furry animals all morning, then being able to come home at lunchtime and sink into a Nanna Nap if I need to is great. I can completely see why you’re encouraged to ‘phase in’ a return to full time work after treatment and why I should’ve done this last year instead of going straight back into a stressful job. Lesson learned!
This week saw me back at St. Luke’s for my annual follow-up appointment with Dr SmileyBloke, of the surgical team. I went prepared with a list of questions/concerns, which he answered with his customary smile and reassuring tone. He asked how I thought I was doing, and I answered honestly ‘still struggling a bit’. Explained that I’m still finding the tiredness hard to cope with, that the bulgy armpit is still causing me issues and that I have put on two stone since I started on Tamoxifen and can’t seem to shift the weight (admittedly mostly because I can’t stop shoving pies, chips and chocolate into my cakehole). I don’t so much have a spare tyre these days as all four wheels, plus the one in the boot.
I was surprised when he confirmed that the weight gain is most likely related to the Tamoxifen – it does, apparently, increase appetite (something I’ve definitely noticed since being on it). I could stop taking it if I wanted to, but there is a 5% chance of recurrence. Knowing my luck, I’d be one of the 5%, so at the moment coming off the meds is not something I want to do. He also explained that after three years of Tamoxifen, if I’m confirmed as being post-menopausal, I could be switched to an aromatase inhibitor which should reduce/stop the menopausal side-effects (weight gain included). I’m well aware that aromatase inhibitors can have their own nasty side-effects though, so I’ll have to think about that a bit. We will review that on my appointment next year.
Interestingly, he said losing a stone in weight would benefit me as much as taking Tamoxifen does, for sciencey-type reasons (something to do with the body’s production of estrogen when there’s more fat, but I must admit I glazed over slightly at that point – I don’t really do science).
We discussed diet and exercise & he gave me a few hints and tips based on his own recent experience of trying to lose ‘the cuddle factor’ as he called it. Basic common sense stuff, really – eat less, exercise more. I’m going to try to cut out some of the crap that I eat between meals and to drink more water, too. He’s a big advocate of the Couch to 5k – something I only do when I’m ‘training’ for a Race For Life. I told him I’d recently downloaded the app with Michael Johnson as trainer. He asked if I’d started yet. Blimey mate, give me a chance! I only downloaded it three months ago – I need to ease in gently!
I remembered to ask about alcohol and Tamoxifen and he reckoned that having a couple of glasses of wine a week wouldn’t increase the risk of the cancer recurring. I don’t really have a problem with being teetotal, but it will be nice to have a little bit of vino with my Christmas dinner for the first time in two years.
copped a feel examined both boobs, told me everything was fine, reminded me to ensure I go for the annual mammogram in the spring and then said the three little words anyone in any form of recovery wants to hear:
“You’re doing great”.
And, do you know what? I think I just might be.