January 15, 2016

Access to Medicine so All with Cancer Can Thrive

Good new: Thanks to a great clinical trial, I am still thriving. In fact, I ride my bike to and from my chemo appointments, weather permitting. I am working for access to cancer meds so all can thrive.

Upcoming event for Cancer Thrivers and Loved ones: Feb 4 in DC: Details

My statement on access and the TPP:

TPP Threatens Access to Medicines

Statement by Zahara Heckscher, Breast Cancer Patient and Founder of Cancer Thriver

Statement at Press Conference Monday, January 11, 2016 at 4:00 PM
2168 Rayburn House Office Building
Members of Congress to Join a Broad Coalition Against TPP Ahead of the State of the Union

January 11,2016

In 2008, I received a devastating diagnosis: invasive breast cancer. My son had just turned 3. But today, even though my cancer is considered advanced, and my current treatment includes chemotherapy, I am thriving. My son is now 10 and I am happy to be a soccer mom as well as a writer and educator.

I am alive and thriving today because I have had access to the latest medicines for breast cancer, including monoclonal antibodies, known as biological medicines.

Sadly, I know all too well what cancer can mean without access to new treatments. My mother died of breast cancer in 1976, less than one year after her diagnosis, just days before my 12th birthday.

That is why I was arrested at the TPP negotiations in Atlanta, and why I am here today to urge Congress to reject the TPP. The TPP will effectively take some patients backwards in time to the dark ages of cancer treatment. It will prevent too many people with cancer – and other life threatening illnesses – from accessing the new treatments they need to stay alive. When science has the potential for them to be thrivers like me, living productive lives while in treatment, or to be cured, the TPP will be a death sentence.

According to Doctors Without Borders, the TPP will “go down in history as the worst-ever trade agreement for access to medicines…It’s bad for people needing access to medicines worldwide, including in the U.S.”

How does the TPP prevent access to medicines? Organizations including like Doctors without Borders, Public Citizen, and Oxfam have done the detailed technical analysis, but the bottom line is this:

First of all, in the US, if passed, the TPP will lock in policies that will keep prices obscenely high:

·         The TPP could tie policymakers’ hands by locking in the inability of our government to negotiate reasonable prescription prices in any future Medicare Part D reform.

·         The TPP would prevent the reduction of extra-long monopolies for biologic medicines -- some of which cost over $100,000 per year -- and delay the timely development of affordable, life-saving biosimilars.

·         The TPP would lock in perverse incentives that encourage pharmaceutical companies to “evergreen” profits, extending monopolies for making minor modifications to existing medicines rather than developing new medicines.

In addition, efforts to reform our system and reduce medical costs in the future could be challenged outside our court system in unaccountable trade tribunals.

The high prices locked in by the TPP will mean that in the US, insurance formularies may not cover certain new and effective medicines, people with high deductibles may be unable to afford treatments they need, and low-income and even middle class people may be unable to afford co-pays that can total thousands of dollars per year for expensive medicines.

As an example, I were not in a clinical trial, this medicine I take, palbociclib, a drug that is helping me stay alive and thriving, could cost me over $100,000 a year because it is not approved for the kind of breast cancer I have, even though my doctor wanted me on it. Locking in our current system will mean more of these outrageous prices and a resulting lack of access to life saving medicines.

And for those of you who think you are not affected because you are healthy – think again. Propping up higher costs for medicines will ultimately increase insurance premiums for everyone, as well as taxes to cover Medicare and other government programs that pay for drugs. As economist Dean Baker has illustrated, outrageous health care costs are the number one cause of U.S. budget problems.

Outside the US, by establishing extended monopolies that delay production of generics and biosimilars, the TPP will have devastating effects on individual health and health systems. The TPP will roll back the May 10, 2007 agreement between Congressional Democrats and the Bush Administration that promoted access to medicines for developing countries. The effectiveness of our international aid dollars will be compromised. Try telling a woman with breast cancer in Vietnam, where annual per capital income is under $2000, that she has to pay $100,000 a year for the medicine that would save her life. Ultimately, people will die because they will not have access to lifesaving medicines for HIV, cancer, and other illnesses.

If passed, the TPP would be extremely difficult to modify because all signatories would have to agree to any changes. This means that harmful provisions may be in effect for decades, hampering not only current policy but also future generations’ ability to improve our health care system and control costs.

Tomorrow, Obama may try to wrap the TPP in some nice gift wrap – for example, he may state that the TPP is needed for companies to be able to develop new drugs. Please don't be confused by arguments that conflate obscene profits with the ability to advance medical research. Pharma spends more on marketing and lobbying than on research. And much of the innovative work in developing new medicines is funded by government and nonprofits.

The TPP is not a policy wonk issue. It is a human issue that affects individuals like me who are fighting for our lives. And it affects our families too.

For my mother to die of breast cancer in the 1970s was a tragedy for our family.

For people in the US and around the world to die unnecessary in this new millennium because of the TPP is a cruel, premeditated, and avoidable catastrophe.

I urge all members of Congress to serve the interests of your constituents, of public health, of fiscal responsibility, and of democracy. I urge you to vote against the TPP.

# # #

Zahara Heckscher is a breast cancer patient, writer and educator who lives in Washington, DC. She has a BA in Biology from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, and an MA in International Development from American University. She is currently in a clinical trial that combines chemotherapy and palbociclib, and her treatment also includes the biological medicine Xgeva, a monoclonal antibody. Zahara bikes to and from her chemo appointments and paddles with a dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors. As the founder of Cancer Thriver, she is dedicated to spreading the word about the role of exercise in helping to prevent and treat breast cancer. She is a leader in the movement of cancer patients to defeat the TPP and protect access to affordable medicines.

September 24, 2015

Join me to opose the "Death Sentence Clause" that Threatens Cancer Thrivers around the World

I was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago. Although I am still in treatment, I have maintained a positive attitude and active lifestyle thanks in part to getting treatments from biologic drugs such as trastuzumab (marketed as Herceptin), Perjeta/Pertuzumab, and Xgeva.

Why am I so happy to get this shot?
Xgeva keeps my bones strong and
helps me thrive!
These medicines have extended my life and kept me strong. They allow me to be a cancer thriver.

These medicines also enable me to be there for years for my son — who just turned 10 this summer.

I have become involved in the fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because, if passed, it could threaten access to these kinds of life-saving drugs, known as biologics.  Please go to www.tppkills.org to learn more and take action.

Biologic medicines have extended the lives of women like me with breast cancer by years and have saved thousands of lives. Additional biologic medicines in the research pipeline offer hope to people with breast cancer and others.

The large pharmaceutical companies are trying to influence the TPP deal so they can have long-term monopolies on these medicines and make more money. They seek a delay of at least eight years before allowing generics or biosimilars. That way they can charge up to hundreds of thousands per year by denying less expensive alternatives that could save lives.

We are calling this proposal the "death sentence clause" because it would sentence tens of thousands of people to unnecessary suffering and early death.

It will affect loved ones as well, including the children of breast cancer patients struck down in their prime.

I know that because I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was 11. She was got cancer before biologic drugs were available, and lived less than a year after diagnosis.

I have just heard that the trade ministers of the 12 TPP countries will meet in Atlanta starting September 26 to try to conclude the talks, and the monopoly periods for these biologic drugs will be one of just a handful of issues that will decide the fate of the TPP. It effects US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Vietnam.

I plan to go to Atlanta next week to try to meet these trade ministers face to face — to ensure that women in the U.S. and around the world have access to the kind of biologic treatments that have extended my life.

I want to bring your name with me, so please go to www.tppkills.org to add your name.

I look forward to working together so all Cancer Thrivers can have access to the meds they need to keep thriving!

September 7, 2015

The Second Cancer Thriver Flotilla: September 12, 2015

Last year's Cancer Thriver Flotilla was an amazing success...and we're doing it again!

On September 12, which happens to be my 51st birthday, a group of about 30 people -- cancer thrivers and friends --  will paddle up the Potomac from the Key Bridge to Fletcher's Boathouse, and back.

The goals of the event are:
  1. Spread the word: Exercise helps prevent and treat cancer
  2. Inspire people with cancer and loved ones: You can thrive with cancer, no matter your diagnosis
  3. Raise funds for breast cancer groups that help survivors become Cancer Thrivers
We'll raise money and awareness for three fabulous cancer organizations:

  • GoPink!DC, the DC breast cancer survivor's Dragon Boat team.
  • BreastCancer.org, a web site that has become the go-to resource for women around the world seeking support and information for their breast cancer. 
  • Living Beyond Breast Cancer, an organization that brings together women with breast cancer at conferences that provide support, hope, and the lastest useful medical information.
I'm thrilled that in the first week of our campaign we reached our initial goal of $500 and we're now working towards our stretch goal of $1500.

Join or support the event here: http://igg.me/at/CancerThriverFlotilla/x/2806398

August 29, 2014

Cancer Thriver Flotilla Countdown and Indiegogo

One of the great things about being a cancer Thriver is the number of friends (and even strangers) who are eager to be part of your team.

When I had chemo, delicious soups turned up at my door. Friends went with me to infusions. They took my son to school.

Now that I am feeling great, the friends (and strangers) are still there. I have witnessed this in recent days in the outpouring of support for the Cancer Thriver Flotilla -- the amazing journey we will take down the Anacostia and Potomac this weekend.

  • Our Cancer Thriver Flotilla Indiegogo campaign is off and running, already exceeding our humble goal, thanks to 20 generous funders so far, with more every day. Please take a minute to check out the campaign, watch the video and consider making a donation to our fabulous beneficiaries. 
  • We have about 10 people joining us at some stage of the Flotilla on the water, and another 20 or so helping as walkers, bikers, and volunteers (See our full schedule to get involved).
  • My reasons to Thrive!
  • Cabot Cheese, Peeled Snacks, and Boating in DC have made wonderful generous in-kind contributions, so more of the money we raise can go to the causes, not to overhead. Thank you!
Speaking of causes, watch this space for more on the absolutely amazing and wonderful groups that will benefit from our Flotilla: Living Beyond Breast Cancer, BreastCancer.org, and GoPink!DC. Love you all.

August 20, 2014

Cancer Thriver Flotilla -- What is Your Thrive?

According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 13.7 million cancer survivors living in the US.

That probably includes your neighbor, one of your kid's teachers, and a family member. Maybe even you!

Every day, cancer becomes a more treatable disease. Treatments are less drastic, and even incurable cancer has become, in many cases, a chronic illness rather than a short term death sentence.

As more and more of us survive cancer, I think it's time to change our mentality from cancer survivors to Cancer Thrivers. That's why -- even though I am still in treatment for breast cancer -- I am planning to become the first person to Stand Up Paddle from the Anacostia River in DC to Mt Vernon, VA this Labor Day Weekend, August 30-31, 2014.

I'll embark on this journey with about 20 friends and supporters who will join me by canoe, bike, walking and at least one other SUPer (my friend Martin Weil, at left in the photo above).

To join us, see details in the post below, and email me zaharapeace@gmail.com.

What is your Thrive?

July 30, 2014

Cancer Thriver Flotilla for Cancer Thrivers and Friends

Cancer Thriver, Zahara, on the Potomac River
Update: Our Indiegogo Campaign is on fire! Please check it out. 

For my 50th birthday: I plan to be the first person to Stand Up Paddle from the Anacostia River in DC to Mt Vernon, Virginia. I'm doing it in the name of Cancer Thriver.

I want to help spread the word that exercise helps prevent and treat breast cancer. (Yes, really!)

And I want you in on the fun.

The journey will be an overnight, August 30-31 (rain date Sept 1). Inshallah, I will travel on Stand Up Paddle from the Anacostia River (near the Ballpark) to Old Town Virginia, overnight there (probably on couches of friends), then on to Mt Vernon the next day. I hope to do this with a little flotilla of cancer survivors, friends, and supporters.

My hubby Eric and son Max will join in a kayak or canoe, and I hope we’ll have a few other people on human powered watercraft, or on parallel trips by bike and by foot. Eileen wants to lead the walkers, about 8 miles each day. (On the river, will be about 6-7 miles each day.)

I plan to add on an Indiegogo hope to raise money for my favorite breast cancer organizations (Living Beyond Breast Cancer and BreastCancer.org) and their wonderful work to publicize the role of exercise in preventing and treating breast cancer.

Let me know if you might want to:
  •  Join the trip for one or both days by boat, bike, or foot
  •  Join the launch party Sat Aug 30 about noon, probably here near the DC ballpark: http://www.boatingindc.com/ballpark-boathouse#.U9mDyPldVSA, or the Sunday August 31 Closing Ceremony at Mt Vernon at about 6 pm.
  •  Help with another role, such as helping me plan logistics (food, events, or housing), fundraise, spread the word, support the teams.

Let me know here https://www.facebook.com/CancerThriver or email me zaharapeace at gmail dot come.

In the meantime, save the dates:

Sat August 30 10-11 am Launch Party at DC Boathouse near Ballpark, 11 am launch, Dinner in Old Town

Sunday August 31, 11-12, Launch Prep, noon launch, Aim to Arrive Mt Vernon by 6ish for ending Ceremony

(Rain date is Monday Sept 1)

July 12, 2014

Chemo Silver Linings: Chemo Curl and More

What with the brittle nails, nausea, and low energy, I would not wish chemo on anyone.

But I was surprised to find out how many silver linings there were when I recently went through a round for a few months.

1. Friend bringing dinner. I am a people person and was extremely happy when many friends (and some folks I didn't even know) offered to bring dinner for me and my family. I had a policy to say YES to everyone who offered. Even better than the nutrition was the chance to have time with friends for dinner... and no cooking!

2. The reminder to say No. Sometimes I forget that I can't do everything. With chemo, and 8 pm bedtime, I had to cut out a lot. The chemo let me say "No" without feeling guilty.

3. Chemo curl. My hair is normally straight. Pin straight. I was disproportionately happy to discover that my post-chemo hair is coming in with a nice little wave to it.

You just never know where the silver linings are going to come from. What are your silver linings?

October 13, 2013

It Takes a Village to Be a Cancer Triver: 5 Years and Counting

Five years from my first breast cancer diagnosis. I am feeling healthy and, thanks to the wonders of modern science, have been doing really well without ever needing chemo!

In the past five years, I have

* Quit the most stable, best paid job I ever had (because it hurt my soul)

* Learned to surf (and broke my ankle on my third wave -- actually broke it on the board of the kid who smashed into me when I was gracefully surfing on my third wave)

* Written a good part of two books (agents, please call me)

* Continued to make all the mistakes I have ever made (chocolate addiction, inability to keep up with paperwork, and many others you don't want to know)

The cancer in the background has added to the sweetness and gratitude in my days. That's a good thing. But the best thing about being a Cancer Thriver is the connection with my dear friends. I've learned it takes a village to be a Cancer Thriver. Supporting a Cancer Thriver comes in many different packages. (See my thoughts on When a Friend has Cancer.) Here are a few of the members of my village. On my five year anniversary, I want to call you out with deepest gratitude:

Marcia, who for well over a year has read to me passages from Martha Beck to help me in my journey to find my Calling and Life Path.

Dana, who takes time from her busy day to go with me to the doctor, types up high level notes, and helps me sort through the onco-talk and come up with a common sense plan of action every time.

Naomi, who sat with me for three hours in the IV treatment room, brought me an assortment of sweet and savory muffins, and found a rabbi to help me with the spiritual part of my journey.

Suz, whose many acts of kindness include bringing me sauteed spinach when I was in the hospital and craving real food, and flying to Boston with me for a second opinion from a top doc.

Melinda, who texts me most mornings to get me out of the house for a jog, one of the most essential parts of my current treatment plan.

My village is so large it will take quite a few more posts to call out all the awesome folks who have put the fun, joy, and love into my life as a Cancer Thriver.

Five years and counting! Who in your village helps you thrive, cancer or not?

August 22, 2012

My Ridiculous Bliss: Stand Up Paddle, Anyone?

A cancer diagnosis is devastating. But it's also a great excuse.
Zahara SUPing in Hawaii.

For me, it's an excuse to stop caring what other people think, and follow my bliss.

I know how ridiculous it is for a 47-year-old klutzy mom to try a new water sport, a sport that looks like it was invented for young people who look great in short shorts and can follow all the steps in Zumba class.

But with cancer, ridiculousness ceases to matter very much.

So I went ahead and tried Stand Up Paddling, also known as Supping, paddleboarding.

I loved it.

I loved it very much.

I loved it as much as I love skiing, small kittens, chocolate cake. Which is to say, I totally love it.

I've now paddleboarded in Maui, on the Chesapeake, the Potomac, and the Charles River.

I'm planning a long paddleboarding trip (watch this space for details), and thinking of becoming a certified Stand Up Paddling instructor.

If you'd like to learn how to SUP, and live in the DC area, drop me a line.

Ridiculous? Yes.

Bliss? Yes.

What's your ridiculous bliss?

May 25, 2012

Lotsa Helping Hands, Even When I Feel Good

If you look at me, I don't look sick. I don't feel sick. In fact, the treatment for my breast cancer is going so well that I feel great.

But I still use the Lotsa Helping Hands website to help me thrive. Why?

1. The spiritual/social side of healing. For me, healing is not just what's going on with my body. It is my mind, my heart, and my soul. The community of Lotsa Helping Hands keeps me close with friends and thus keeps my spirits high.

2. Exercise is medicine. My docs tell me that exercise may extend my life. Let's face it, I am not going out for a jog at 715 am... unless a friend rings the bell with sneakers on.

3. Cancer is about living. I read recently in the wonderful book, How Can I Help?: Everyday Ways to Help Your Loved Ones Live with Cancerthat dying is the last few days of life. Everything else is living, whether or not we have cancer. Lotsa Helping Hands helps me live.

4. My friends want to know how I am doing. Lotsa lets me keep everyone posted on developments, and when I need help, whether it is a home cooked meal, or just to see the face of a friend.

Thanks to those who created Lotsa for helping us to thrive.

June 29, 2011

Cancer Thriver Books

Josephine Reed graciously invited me to be a guest on her show, On the Margin on WPFW yesterday.

The topic: Summer Reading:

In my search for writing worthy of Jo's show, I found a book that I thought would be an especially wonderful read for my cancer thriver friends.

My Year with Eleanor is about Eleanor Roosevelt. But it's really about facing your fears. It's a light enough read to read on the beach. Serious enough to chat about during a dinner party with your literary friends, since you'll learn all about Eleanor. Enough funny sex scenes (not too graphic) to qualify as a summer read. And the scary moments in the book are truly breath taking -- made my heart race and kept me up at night. I would have been too scared to keep reading except that since the author wrote the book, I figured out that she probably didn't die.

Warning, the tone of the book is light and breezy, even though the topics are serious. A few sections were so gross I had to skip some pages. But if you don't mind (or actually like) the girlfriend tone of Hancock's prose, I think you'll find this book a delight. And it might even help you change your own life.

I found that having cancer was really scary but made me a braver person. After hearing the words "you have breast cancer," how scary can anything else be, after all?

This book shows how fear can make you a better person. I think it's a must read for cancer survivor's, and others. Your thoughts?

Here are some other recommended readings, in no particular order:

Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag
Sempre Susan felt like a guilty pleasure, since it was written by Susan Sontag's son's ex. But since it was about such a serious intellectual, I decided to read it anyway! Well written and fascinating insider portrait of a complicated woman.

Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker: The Complete Correspondence
If you like Elizabeth Bishop's poetry, or if you like the New Yorker, you'll like this book. It's also a great read for poets and other artists, as an example of eloquently and graciously accepting rejection, and soldiering on to success.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story

The Zookeeper's Wife is one of those nonfiction books that reads like a novel. As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I usually avoid WWII books as I find them too painful. But this book, without glossing over the devastation of war, tells an uplifting story about an incredibly brave family.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Recommended by my friend Micah Trapp.

Cities of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest

I think of Cities of Gold as the Great American Novel. But it is not a novel. It is a true double story -- the story of the Spaniard's search for the Cities of Gold in the American Soughwest, and Douglass Preston's effort to trace their steps. It  introduced me to my favorite historical figure, the amazing Estebanico, who otherwise has mostly been written out of our history books. An epic story, well told.

Banvard's Folly: Thirteen Tales of People Who Didn't Change the World
Eccentric Islands: Travels Real and Imaginary

Banvard's Folly and Eccentric Islands are both recommended by my friend Lorin Kleinman.

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

My dear sister, who knows how much I love Laura Ingells Wilder, recommended this book. I can't wait to read it. I am currently reading Little House in the Big Woods to my son and it is as good as I remembered.

The Old Man and the Sea

If you have not read Old Man and the Sea, please run to the library and get it now. I just read it for the first time recently and now I'm mad at my English teacher for not making me read it in high school.

Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone is recommended by Martha Madsen so it's got to be good.

Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel

Susan Misra suggests this book, Super Sad True Love Story, "a well-written dystopian romance."

Red Hook Road: A Novel 
Red Hook Road is Ayelet Waldman's latest. I loved her Nursery Crimes (Mommy-Track Mysteries)and Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace.

A Passage to India 

A Passage to India is a classic; a fascinating tale of racism, colonialism, and friendship, beautifully written.  

I suppose that is enough for this summer. Please add your suggestions below.

April 24, 2011

Two and a Half Years/Staying the the 98%

Five years cancer free is sometimes seen as the gold standard of cancer recovery.

I've just celebrated two and a half years since my diagnosis.

Woo hoo. Half way there!

My doc told me that my cancer (Stage 1 estrogen positive) has a 98% 5 year survival rate. So I am trying hard to live in the the 98%.

The immediate "I am alive" glow of surviving cancer has warn off but I am still surfing the good feelings of recovery. Crazy to say, but I still think life is better after cancer.

Search Amazon.com for cancer survivor tshirts

August 8, 2010

When a Friend has Cancer

I know it can be really hard to know what to do or say when a loved one is diagnosed. Here are some thoughts:

1. Don't worry about saying the perfect thing. You can even start the conversation with "I don't know what to say, but I want you to know I'd like to be supportive as you go through this."

2. Talk at your own comfort level. Some of my friends wanted to know details of my diagnosis and prognosis. If you are that kind of person, I'd suggest saying "If you feel comfortable talking about it, will you let me know..." But other friends just wanted to talk about regular stuff; the weather, a movie, gossip. That was totally fine too. If that's you "I know you have a lot on your mind, but let's get together and just talk about..."

3. Don't disappear. I know it can be awkward to be with a friend when you are so worried about their health and even survival. But the best thing you can do is get over your own fear and be present for your friend. If you hate hospitals and medical stuff, you can be present by texting a little message to say "I love you and I'm thinking about you."

4. Follow your friend's lead. If she wants to talk about losing her hair or how much she hates chemo, listen. But if she just wants to veg out together and watch American Idol, don't force her to talk about the serious stuff.

5.  Help the caregivers. A coupon for a massage, an offer to babysit, an invitation to a movie -- thoughtful gestures can help a tired and stressed out caregiver.

6. Do something small. Don't feel that you have to make a grand gesture. Drop off a book you like, lend your friend a funny video, send a link to an article your friend might like.

7. Don't judge.  And if you can't help but judge, keep your opinions to yourself.  You may disagree with your friend's choice of treatment, or think their lifestyle choices might contribute to their cancer. Bite your tongue.

8. Don't burden your friend with your own grief or worry. Your friend's cancer may remind you of someone you loved who died of cancer. You may have to wrestle with your own feelings about your friend's illness. Wrestle the feelings on your own time -- don't expect your friend with cancer to caretake you!

9. Ask if you can help by offering specific actions.

Can I bring dinner over next Thursday?
Can I take the kids to a movie on Saturday so you can rest?
Do you need a ride to chemo next week?
Would you like me to take care of your lawn until you're feeling better?
Can I start a Lots Helping Hands page for you? (See www.lotsahelpinghands.com, a great resource to organize support for someone with cancer.)

A general offer of help is nice, but many people with cancer don't want to accept help or can't think straight about what help they need. Offering a specific can be a great strategy.

10. Don't assume the worst. Many forms of cancer are curable. Others are long term chronic illnesses. It's quite likely that your friend will join the millions of people who are cancer survivors -- and even thrivers!

Everyone is different. If you are a survivor or know one, please share your thoughts.

May 31, 2010

Love after cancer

Love after cancer is a bit different from regular love.

Cancer survivor love means loving from a really imperfect body. Not that my body was perfect before cancer, but now I have some crazy scars and bumps.

Cancer survivor love, for me, means a more forgiving love. Yes, my hubby still has a habit of running late for just about everything, but at least he gets there eventually and that is what's important.

Cancer survivor love is more self aware. Now that I have looked death in the eye, I know that nothing is forever, so each moment of love is more precious.

Cancer survivor love is imperfect. And so was love before cancer. But now I am more accepting of the imperfections of love, just as I am more accepting of my body's imperfections.

April 27, 2010

I love my tamoxifen, do you?

Does anyone else out there secretly like tamoxifen? Not just because it reduces the risk (and fear) of a recurrence.

The day I started taking tamoxifen I felt a little bit perkier. Could it be the estrogen replacement effects on some of my forty five year old cells that needed a little pseudo-estrogen buzz?

The hot flashes did come on as promised. But I like them. I remember reading that hot flashes are power surges (was it a Hallmark card?) and I think of them that way.

Hot flashes are like my body saying "hey there, we still have some fire."

And tamoxifen definitely has increased my metabolism. Unfortunately it also makes me hungry all the time, so no weight loss, but at least I can eat more and not gain too much.

OK, that's just looking at the bright side, but after cancer, why look at the dark side any more than you have to?