The best news I got Monday is that I don’t have a brain tumor.
There was significantly more news, but that’s been a cloud looming over my head for longer than I’d care to admit.
So I’ll back up a second- Monday I took the full day off work. I started with an Echocardiogram and a visit to my cardiologist, who I hadn’t seen in 3 years. I was due last year, but as I told him, I think the Echo would have hurt like hell with the tissue expanders in. I have a bicuspid aortic valve, it’s a congenital heart condition, and as long as there’s no change in how it’s leaking or the way my body has compensated by creating a minor aortic aneurism just past the valve, it’s really not that big of a deal. Not to mention, I was a little distracted by the whole chemo thing.
I chose to schedule it for Monday, because it was tattoo day. No, not some cool tattoo to commemorate my journey… but circles on my chest that make the gummy bear filled flesh lumps that fill my bra actually look like boobs. (See a cool article about both kinds here.) It’s amazing what a difference it makes. It’s funny, I told the PA who did the work that the color she mixed (a combo of Flesh 4, Mauve and Mocha) was similar to a lipstick I have… and now that I confirmed that it’s a lipstick I still own, I remembered it’s one I only wear when I’m particularly ashen. Otherwise it doesn’t look like I’m wearing anything, it matches my lips so closely.
If you’ll remember, the last time I saw my doc in September, he asked me to tell him if the headaches didn’t get better. And since I’d already scheduled both an Echo and the Tattoos, I also booked my quarterly visit with Dr. Gadi. And called his nurse to see if he still wanted to do a scan before the visit. So Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving, I had a brain MRI with contrast. And for 7 days, I had to wait.
On one hand, since I’ve been having darn close to daily headaches which have been more intense than ever for the last 6-8 months, just knowing what might be causing the problem would be a relief. But REALLY? A heart murmur, breast cancer, my mom’s colon cancer. I’m just not ready for one more thing.
So yes, it was more than a small relief to learn that I still don’t have a tumor.
However, I do still have the headaches.
Our going theory right now is that the increased headaches are either because I’m entering menopause, a side effect of the Tamoxifen, or a combo of both. Or, again, as I pointed out to my doc, since I’ve been having stress headaches for more than 15 years, it could just be that.
That’s actually why it’s taken so long to write about Monday. I’ve had enough of a headache every day this week that by the time I get done with work hours, I just can’t stand to stare at my PC and type something out that involves any thought.
So the next course of action is to switch me off of Tamoxifen and on to an aromatase inhibitor. My doc says the survival rate is actually better on them, but they are only OK to be on post-menopause. Evidently, some women still get periods on Tamoxifen, so I needed to do the full year to confirm that I’m there. I’m there.
Starting in the morning, I’ll be taking Arimidex. I don’t know much about it… I’m still in that weird limbo-y place where I’m doing a lot less research than I’d ever expect of myself, but I’m really hoping this will help with the headaches.
The last new thing my doc & I talked about was my continued problems with sleep. I don’t know that I’ve had more than a handful of full nights of sleep since I found the lump. That can’t help things like headaches.
So he gave me info from a study on how yoga can help cancer survivors with sleep issues. Once I find the right class and give it a try, I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, I’ll hope that switching up my meds will help me get out of my head.