I’m 41 years old and have already gone through a double mastectomy, 8 rounds of chemo, 1 reconstructive surgery, 7 weeks of radiation and an oophorectomy (the removal of my ovaries). All because of my breast cancer diagnosis and having the BRCA 2 mutation.
That’s enough for a lifetime, if you ask me.
I went to see my oncologist in May for my 6-month check up. She wanted me to do a bone density test, mainly to get a baseline, she said. Having my ovaries removed and taking tamoxifen, my body is not producing or getting any estrogen, which helps keep bones strong. So I figured I would be at risk for osteoporosis, but not for a while.
Last week I finally did my bone density test, which, by the way, was the easiest test I’ve ever done. No IV, no drugs, no fasting. You lay down, they scan your spine, then they scan one hip. Then you’re done. In and out in 15 minutes. Best. Test. Ever.
Two days later, I got the call from my oncologist. My spine already shows signs of osteoporosis. DAMN IT!
So now she wants me to be given a drug called Zometa. Zometa is a bone strengthening drug, which also has shown to prevent recurrences of breast cancer. Both good things.
Here’s the good news – I will only have to be given Zometa once every 6 months (twice a year). It only takes 15 minutes to administer the drug.
Now the unsettling part – Zometa is given through an IV. That kind of sucks. But the worst part – I have to go to the chemo area of the hospital to get the infusion.
I never wanted (or want) to see that stupid chemo area again. When I said goodbye to those lovely nurses who helped me through chemo two years ago, I said goodbye. Not see you later. Goodbye. Have a good life. I’ll never see you again.
But here I am, being told to get an osteoporosis drug administered in the chemo area of the hospital.
Now, I know I should be grateful that I’m only going there for osteoporosis, and not because I have a recurrence of breast cancer or some other cancer (fingers crossed that’s always the case). And I should be grateful that my oncologist is aggressive and assertive on my behalf with any health issue. But that somehow isn’t making the tears stop flowing when I think about walking into that chemo area. Having to see all those people, who I used to be one of, get chemo – that’s going to be hard. Talk about PTSD.
I guess the other upsetting part is that this is just one more thing I have to do now because of stupid f*$%ing breast cancer.
I see at least 1 doctor every 3 months, I get blood work done every 6 months, I go for scans every year, and now I have to go get this drug pumped into me every 6 moths. It’s just one more thing that I have to do in a hospital with doctors. And that just sucks.
It reinforces the fact that you’re never really done with cancer. There’s always something.
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Oh boy, could I really relate to this excellent post! After chemo and taking an AI that all but crippled me, much of my bone was leached and I was heading toward osteoporosis. It was devastating to me. There is hope, however, I worked hard through exercise and took a horrible drug called Fosamax, and my bone density eventually hit normal. And I agree that the bone density scan is the best test ever. Hang in there and do what you need to do.
Thanks, Beth, for your comments and support. Glad to hear your bone density got back to normal. That’s great! Hopefully I will follow in your footsteps and have good news to share soon.
I, too, was diagnosed with osteoporosis two years after my diagnosis. I, too, hated Fosamax. And just like you, I thought it was kind of the last straw. Now I, too, just like Beth, no longer have osteoporosis. But I shared your dismay when I found out. May I share a poem from my book, Fine Black Lines?
The tests show
I have osteoporosis.
The doctor seems surprised.
I am dismayed.
I feel betrayed again–
alienated from my body–
I was counting on
my bones to hold me up
the rest of my life.
(Excerpted from Fine Black Lines, copyright 2003, Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)
Thanks, Lois, for reading my post and sharing your inspiring comments. Your poem explains the feeling perfectly. Hopefully Zometa will help, and I’ll have a result like you – a reversal of the osteoporosis.
Boy do I relate. It does feel like another betrayal doesn’t it? My bone health has taken a real hit, too, and when I learned about it, I was so mad – just as you said, we are never done with the cancer fallout.
Thanks for reading and the comment, Nancy. We’re all in this together – helping each other through it.
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