Lately, I’ve been reading about tamoxi-rage. That’s me I thought. All these women saying they want to punch someone in the face, that’s how I feel, but at the bottom of one blog post was a comment along the lines of “I feel like that all the time. I’m menopausal but I’m not on tamoxifen.” A quick google of “menopausal rage” showed the world is full of 50-something women who just want to punch someone in the face, tamoxifen or not.At the San Antonio Breast Cancer Conference late last year (1) data was presented that showed that women who experienced nausea or vomiting while taking tamoxifen were likely to stop taking the drug, but women taking a placebo were equally likely to stop, believing the tablets were causing the symptoms.
Menopause is awful and tamoxifen deprives us of even the relief of the small amounts of estrogen being generated by our adrenal glands and fat cells. In my case, menopause was chemo induced and the start of tamoxifen quickly followed, causing embarassing sweats and the migration of my all my fat to my tummy. Tamoxifen was surely to blame, but those are also menopausal symptoms, and my menopause started at almost the same time as the Tamoxifen. Many women give up tamoxifen because they blame their menopausal symptoms on tamoxifen, and many women die as a result; about 400 every year in the UK alone (2).
Dr Samuel Smith, a Cancer Research UK fellow and university academic fellow at the University of Leeds, said “Our findings have implications for how doctors talk to patients about the benefits and side effects of preventive therapies such as tamoxifen.
“It’s important to manage expectations and provide accurate information on the likelihood of experiencing specific side effects and how these differ from symptoms that women may experience anyway.”
Tamoxifen reduces the incidence of breast cancer recurrence by 30%, so even with tamoxi-rage, tamoxi-tummy and tamoxi-anything else, I’m still a Girl on Tamoxifen.
Now… on the subject of tamoxi-tummies… my weight is grudgingly heading downwards again. 55.1kg today.
Photo by Dean Moriaty