Back in November, I celebrated my 5 year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. Now, this month, I celebrate another milestone. I am going off my cancer fighting medication.
My breast cancer was estrogen-receptor positive. In layman's terms that means the estrogen fed my cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, estrogen can promote the growth of breast cancer cells. Some breast cancers are classified as estrogen receptor-positive (also known as hormone sensitive), which means that they have a protein to which estrogen will bind. These breast cancer cells need estrogen to grow. The drug, Tamoxifen works against the effects of estrogen on these cells and helps prevent the cancer. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, my doctor put me on Tamoxifen.
Two studies have confirmed the benefit of taking adjuvant Tamoxifen daily for 5 years. When taken for that length of time, the medication reduces the chance of the original breast cancer coming back in the same breast of elsewhere. It also reduces the risk of developing a secondary primary cancer in the other breast.
Well, it's been 5 years and my doctor says I can go off the drug. To be honest, I feel a little nervous. It's like being on the high wire without a net. At least when I took the Tamoxifen, I knew I was helping to prevent a recurrence. Now I feel vulnerable. But I still have my annual mammogram, yearly breast MRI and monthly breast self-exam. I'm doing everything humanly possible to prevent it coming back. So I guess I'll continue to trust God for my health and know that this 5 year milestone should be scary! Instead, it's a blessing!
Six in the Morning Anchor
Breast Cancer Survivor