I'm not comparing it to Chemotherapy or Radiation and, honestly, I am grateful to have this drug available to keep me cancer free but Tamoxifen has been a bitch.
For the first month I felt very little, so when I started raging I thought I was really mad. But I wasn't, not really anyway. It was turbo boosted PMS resulting from my chemically induced change of life. The effect has been staggering and I believe anyone who knows me has seen me act very differently. Normally easy going, I am now perpetually anxious. My flash point is ridiculously low and I try to stay silent so I don't say anything angry that I don't mean...or worse what I DO mean. Silent is not my normal way of being, normally I am loud and outspoken with a fairly good sense of humor and I don't recognize this new person who is wearing my skin and vibrating with umbrage.
A good thing I'm being silent too, because I often stumble over words and forget what it was I was saying. The funny things I would say before die just above my epiglottis. My intelligence along with my libido has tanked. I am dulled.
Fatigue is also one of Tamoxifen's gift, but I can't sleep (see above.) Ambien, despite my attempts to sleep without it remains my evening's hero. The oxytocin released by my old breasts is no longer being released and my mood has darkened as I have become more and more a neuter.
This weekend I met a man who has recently been separated from his wife of many years. She is a 4 year breast cancer survivor on Tamoxifen; he says it changed everything about her. He looked sad when he said it. I am sure whatever fissure there was between them became a chasm and that frightens me.
Cancer treatments are never easy. I am clear that not everyone has the same side effects, and my DOnc says I might habituate to this fall out. In the meanwhile he has doubled my antidepressant. While many women have had success with all sorts of creams, since my tumors are completely estrogen/progesterone receptor positive I cannot use them. What I can use is gratitude, which has been my buoy for decades and I cling to it now like a shipwreck victim.
I am grateful for Tamoxifen, and the years it has given me. I will make the very best of them in spite of their unique and unforeseen difficulties. Many cultures maintain that women's power becomes manifest after her change of life and I am sure that is what is happening to me right now; those blank spaces in my mind are places to be filled by new knowledge and ways of thinking; I am grateful for this change because it enlivens and challenges me. I am grateful for all of the women who have moved forward from here and left a trail for me to follow. I know I will make it and that I am not alone.