I think this whole cancer treatment thing is kind of like doing a home renovation (stay with me here). First, you work like crazy to get the demolition done, you make a big mess and you have to step over a pile of drywall to get to the fridge. Then you do the big stuff like putting in the new floor or cabinets and eventually everything becomes functional again. This part takes a little longer than you’d hoped, usually weeks longer than the contractor promised. Finally everything is back to normal but you spend the next 5 years with paint swatches taped to the wall, light switches without covers and crown moulding sitting in your garage.
In the world of my breast cancer, surgery is the demolition, chemo and radiation is the big stuff and now I am about to enter the next 5 years where the last pieces take forever to finish.
A couple of weeks ago I was told by the Dr. that he wanted me to try Exemestane for the next 5 years instead of Tamoxifen. Exemestane is similar to Tamoxifen but is given to women who are menopausal. Ummm, I’m 34. Apparently there was a study that showed greater benefits for women under 35 years of age with some risk factors that I have (type and stage of cancer) so he wants me to give it a shot. The biggest catch is, every 4 weeks I need to go in and get an injection that will stop my ovary function and put me into menopause. Cue the relentless hot flashes. But I agreed as per his recommendation and with the understanding that if the side effects are too much to deal with, I can switch to Tamoxifen at any time.
I got the call to come in because they wanted me to have my first injection of Goserelin (It sounded suspiciously like they said “Gosling” but the world isn’t that generous). The Dr. had said that I could learn to give myself the injections so I brought Tasha along because I knew she would probably get some enjoyment out of learning how to give me a monthly stabbing. We met with the nurse, told her what the Dr. said about doing it at home and her response was, “ohhh, no. Don’t. Come here every 4 weeks. Definitely don’t”. Suddenly I was a bit concerned about what was to come. When the dr. said “injection” I immediately thought syringe+liquid+my arm/thigh/butt.
NOPE. More like giant spring loaded needle+pellet the size of a grain of rice+my stomach.
The nurse got everything ready and then told us that it was better not to watch so I turned my head and she did the thing. When I looked back I saw Tasha’s face and it was clear that she didn’t turn away, based on the look of horror I could tell she watched the whole thing. Yeah, we won’t be doing that at home.
The job of Ryan Gosling…Sorry, Goserelin, is to dissolve and work to decrease the estrogen produced in the ovaries, putting me into menopause. Once my estrogen is low enough I will start taking Exemestane every day to stop the estrogen that is produced in other parts of the body (i.e. fat cells…dammit…I have a lot of those) and I will continue to get the injection every 4 weeks. For 5 Years. 1825 days of paint swatches on the wall.