Swallowing Fear. And Not the Good Way.

It’s none of my business, she said. But, I think every time you take one of those pills, you are swallowing fear.

Hmmm. You think so? I’m not sure I see it that way. 

As many of you know, I had a little party with breast cancer a few years back. As a result of that, my oncologist (who ever thought I would have one of those?) recommends five years of hormone therapy. Due to my age and situation we tried Arimidex first. It. Was. Horrible. Twenty to thirty hot flashes a day. Sleepless nights. And in general, I just felt awful. Since being diagnosed I have totally changed my diet. You might say I am vegan, but I am more whole foods plant based now. This means very little processed foods, no oil, no meat, no dairy. I was just starting to feel fantastic after all of the treatment party crap when the doc said – take this shit. So, I did. I struggled and struggled and finally decided, I was not going to take this shit. It made asofuckinglutely no sense to me that I should take something to prevent me from getting sick that made me feel sick. You know?

After the prescription ran out – the doc called me. Why did you stop taking it? (WHAT? What is happening? Um, you are monitoring my prescriptions now? Really? Maybe I am a paranoid crazy person, but that sounds like an action driven by drug companies.)  But, whatever, we made an appointment and I told him I couldn’t do the side effects. Well, we have other options, he says. We opted for tamoxifen – the pill I was most hoping to avoid (wow, do you hear that?). Fine, sure, prescribe it. Maybe I won’t take it, I think, but I was getting a little scared (hear that?) and after the doc left the room – the nurse leans over to me and whispers, most of the women who get it back, it comes back at stage 4. Wow. That was the last nail in the coffin of my fearful panic attack. This doesnt feel like supportive treatment. Okay, so I guess writing really is therapy – I cant believe the things dancing across this page that are coming out of my head. But, I went home and did it. We started slowly, taking one pill every three days working up to two pills per day. 

And, I felt like shit. So bad in fact, that I did a few things in January.  I put the wine bottle down – c’mon, this was still covid – that was hard. I became super strict on the diet. I was following about 85%, now – 98%. I vowed to get out and walk a mile or so a day. The first few days, I felt worse. Like I’d been hit by a mack truck. Then I felt a little better. But, you know what? I was still sleeping all of the time – I was exhausted. Which might be normal for a few days – but, January 28 came around – and, no change. I needed to not be so tired. Not always wanting a nap. 

If you haven’t noticed, I can agonize over decision making. I can see all the sides, weigh all of the options. And, I am obsessed with never making the wrong decision. Why? Because mistakes take time. And, there is never enough of it. So, here I was – take the pill and feel like I’m not living or don’t take the pill and die a horrible death. I know those are not the only two options, but those are the worst possible case scenarios. I’ve still got a lot of things I want to do. I had been living primarily for my X and my kids for the last twenty five years. Now, I want to live for myself and do new things and have new adventures for a bit. I’m not ready to go. 

The question remains, should I stop taking or keep taking this pill? I shared my dilemma with my friend above and told her I was seriously considering not taking it any longer. Swallowing fear, she said. Well, I quit taking that pill and I was scared. For a minute. Then, I recommitted 90% to the diet. I mean, I live in Sacramento, Mikuni’s is a sushi institution here. And the occasional oil. Because fries are plant based. But, overall, back to feeding my body with nutrition, not crap. And, every single day since then, I have improved. I haven’t taken a nap after work in a week. The hot flashes – which admittedly were way fewer and way less violent than on the first horrible pill  – diminish each day. But, mostly, I feel like I am living again. I have a ways to go – but, I feel like this is a good direction. And, you know what? My friend was right. I’m sure taking that pill had physical effects, but now I see they had emotional and mental ones as well. 

One day I may share my agonizing over the covid vaccine.