Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Tamoxifen Vacation?! This is So Genius!

That's right, you heard it! I heard it! The words rolled off my oncologist's tongue as if I were in a slow motion movie. "Leeeetttt's puuuut yooouuu ooooonnn aaaaa 'Taaaammmooooxiiiifen Vaaaacaaatiooon' fooor siiiix weeeeks."

"WHAT?!" Just like that? I did a double take at Dr. G. and then to Hil and then to my mom. Did he just say a 'Tamoxifen Vacation?' Excuse me everyone, but I've gotta get home immediately and start packing my bags because I'm going on a vacation!

So, here's how it played out. After months of ongoing side effects with the newest, heightened one of peeing and pooping my pants at home AND in public, I couldn't take it any more. I had fallen into a crater of medication issues, a side-effects-depression and was now at an impasse and I wanted it settled immediately.

As my mom, my partner Hil and I sat in Dr. G.'s medical room waiting for him a mere 3 weeks ago, I was silently reviewing how I would bring up the Tamoxifen issues. My thoughts were swimming around in my head: Stay classy Yog. Put on your big girl pants. Simply explain the concerns. Inquire about alternatives. But as soon as Dr. G. walked in the room with his resident Sawyer, this is how the conversation actually went down:

Dr. G: Hey! Do you mind if our resident Sawyer joins in on our appointment?
Me: No. Come on in Sawyer!
Mom: (reaching out her hand to Sawyer) Oh, as in Tom?
Everyone: Bwahahahaha!!
Me: Sorry Sawyer.
Dr. G: (sitting on his rolling doctor stool looking at Hil) Bad-ass hair cut Hilary!
Hil: Thanks Dr. G.
Dr. G: So, how's it going?
Me: Can we talk Tamoxifen Dr. G?
Dr. G: (Smiling) Sure. What's going on?
Me: (looking at Sawyer). I know I don't know you Sawyer, so please excuse me for what I'm about to say.
Sawyer: Ooookaaay...
Me: (spitting out my words in rapid succession) Dr. G. I'm tired of sh*tting my pants in public places. These side effects are doing me in. But may I say, if there is one place to sh*t your pants in public, may I recommend Walmart? They have everything you need in case this crappy situation happens. (looking at Sawyer) Again, sorry Sawyer.
Dr. G: (waving his hand toward Sawyer) He's heard it all.
Sawyer: Yeah, I've heard it all. This is nothing.
Me: Thanks Sawyer. So, what are we gonna do Dr. G. What are my options?

As the conversation continued, I was quickly trying to read Dr. G's response but didn't have to wait very long before he said, Well, this is no way to live, so let's put you on a 'Tamoxifen Vacation' for six weeks and let's see what happens.

Wha, What?! Really? Just like that? Well, ok then.

After 3 1/2 years of getting to know Dr. G., he knows me well enough to give it to me straight. It's just how we both roll and this time was no different. No beating around the bush, carefully choosing your words and talking to me in a nice, calm, soothing yet annoying voice. Just tell it like it is. And this is exactly why I adore this man. Other than his brilliance, innovation, great sense of humor, open-mindedness, humbleness and nice Stanford background, I just admire and revere Dr. G. so very much!

So, in a couple more weeks, I'll go back to Dr. G. with the good news that most of all of the dreadful side effects are mostly gone and I've had only 1 sh*t-my-pants episode behind me (pun intended), we'll see what's next. He said that there are 2 other meds we could consider as well as a once-a-month shot, so, I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I'm feeling pretty darn good these days and excited about now a third round of meds to try to keep that damn estrogen-induced-breast-cancer-feeding-hormone at bay. All in all, I'm just hopeful, and that's good enough for me right now.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Re-Do on the Breast Reconstruction - Yes Again!

I know this sounds redundant, redundant, but yes, this is the 5th surgery for me for this last round of cancer and my third breast reconstruction. And like the professional patient that I have apparently become these past 20 years, I have my pre-surgery juju and rituals down to a science now - juicing, keeping to myself, yoga, a massage, inspirational reading and a mishmash of surgical customs. Makes me feel like I have an ounce more control over something that I truly have zero control over.

As for the video, it will give you an inside peek into the ups, downs and the twisted (as in my case) of what can happen to an implant, post-mastectomy as well as my journey in Cancerland. And as usual, my amazing plastic surgeon, Dr. Julio Soares rocked yet this surgery too! Repositioned implant - check. Encapsulated scar tissue removed - check. Reshaped capsule pocket - check. Breast liposuction - check. A rockstar surgeon - check.

Sometimes, I must admit that these ongoing surgeries, no matter how big, serious or small they may be, still get to me. And because I'm a bit of a pro now, my mind often looks beyond the surgery as I know what lies ahead of me - pain, drains, meds and sponge baths. And of course as most all cancer survivors will tell you, I can't seem to disregard my nervousness about the possibility of my surgeon 'finding something.' (But he didn't - WOOT!).

Lastly, you might inquire as to why I made a video of this most recent journey - it was because it allows me to examine a small but significant segment of my life and what I have conquered. The silver lining in doing this is that it sheds light on my present and all that I have to be grateful for.

Surgery went well, I didn't have drains, my implant only twisted around and the surgery lasted only over an hour instead of the predicted 2-3 hours. My incredible surgeon did his brilliant work once again and this recent journey was by far, the easiest surgery and recovery - see for yourself.