The Fourteenth Chemo – Deciding to Lose the Ovaries
Monday, Aug 22, was my 14th chemo.
Aug 22 was supposed to be my last chemo, but in the beginning of July, my body took a poop on me and I missed two chemos, so it was my 14th chemo instead. I told my doc before my chemo “You know it could be my LAST chemo.” He said, “Good try”.
I remember at the beginning of the appt, Doc asked, “How are you doing?”…“I kinda feel like I am dying.”…“Well, that’s normal after 14 chemos.” We had a good lil chuckle about that.
We talked about how we were moving forward from here….
My cancer was estrogen and progesterone positive. AKA my ovaries are the bad guy playing a big part in my breast cancer development. So, if we leave the Os (ovaries) around to play and do their own thing, the chances of my cancer returning is higher than me or the docs would like to see. 😦
It’s weird to know your whole life that you have certain parts of your body for a reason – but extra weird to realize they could be parts that are killing you. Weird, right?
So, Doc says, here are my options – ALL of which BTW are to keep me in menopause (yes, chemo has already put me in a perimenopause – SO MUCH FUN, but I will have to tell write about that in a different entry) 1.) take Tamoxifen or 2.) have ovarian suppression. With Tamoxifen I would have to take a pill once a day.
With Ovarian Suppression, I could
a.) do a monthly injection of Gasorelin for 5-10 years + Anasrozole, a pill once every day
Or b.) have the Ovaries (the Os) removed + Anasrozole
Here’s my thought process as I looked around the room in response to this:
Obviously, Tamoxifen sounds like the winner. Skip surgery, skip monthly injection, and either way I gotta take a pill every day, right? Well, in my case, all the drs (oncs, OBGYNs, etc) I talked to before had already told me that with my kind of cancer ovarian suppression is the best thing to do, which kicks the #1 Tamoxifen option out the door.
Leaving me with only option 2. But option 2a or option 2b? Side effects? “You’ll basically have the same hormones as a man and all the side effects of menopause.”…“Awesome, so basically I am going to be a man with a 50 year old vagina when I am 30?”…“Well, you’ll just be like a 30 year old man.”
*Disclaimer – I am not hating on 50 year old vaginas – I am just saying I am 30 and menopausal, which is supposed to happen at 50! (thus the term 50-year-old-vagina).
Menopause is a true bitch. The hot flashes are constant. I can’t sleep well because it’s like buckets of water being dumped on you all night and you’re super hot but then you’re sheets are so wet that once the AC kicks on, you’re super cold cause you’re laying in wet sheets. And the heat from flashes hurts your face like pins and needles sticking in you. My skin literally melts off. Like I can wipe away the sweat and skin comes with it. It is absolutely disgusting.
SO I am not going to lie- when he told me I would be in menopause forever, I cried. I told doc, “I didn’t even cry when I found out I had breast cancer, but tell me I get to be in menopause for the rest of my life and look at me.” It is truly a sad thing. I am sure chemo menopause is different than the regular kind – I don’t want to scare anyone from regular menopause, but I also promised you all to say it like it is and, to me, this is truly how it is. And it really, really sucks. Because my cancer responds to female hormones (estrogen and progesterone), I can’t even take the drugs people get to help them get through regular menopause. So I am stuck forever with menopause side effects. Lord, please let there some break through for those like me who can’t get relief. And for all the families who have menopausal women in their life – you better cook, clean, do laundry, get ready for some serious mood swings, and hug her tight even though it seems like that is the last thing she wants. At least for me, hugs cure almost all things menopausal…temporarily.
ANYWAY, At the beginning of my breast cancer journey, they did a PET scan to determine where I had cancer throughout my body (I guess – I am not a dr and I have chemobrain, so please don’t quote me on stuff). It came back with some stuff pretty much everywhere, but of concerning note, was obviously the breast, the lymphnodes, and my left ovary (among other things that I hopefully don’t need to worry about). The ovary in a PET scan should be considered a normal range when it is a 5 and mine was a 19. “It lit up like a Christmas Tree!” my doctor said. AKA something is seriously wrong with the left ovary.
I talked to a few drs about the left ovary and they said that my breast cancer was not the kind to have spread to my ovaries, so it looked like, at the time, that I was also dealing with ovarian cancer as well as BC.
Docs had an ultrasound on both ovaries and they came back fine, so my drs were still puzzled. “If the ovary is fine, why is it lighting up so much in the PET scan?” They tried to do a laparoscopy on the ovary at the same time as the double mastectomy, but scheduling didn’t work out. We decided since the ultrasound came back fine, we would focus on what we knew for sure I had now – breast cancer.
And actually, I forgot all about the ovaries…they also found a small cyst/tumor thing in my brain and they had said we would address/monitor after we were done with breast cancer…I forgot about both of those until a couple weeks ago. Instead, I was basking in the glory of almost being done with chemo…and then I was like “oh yeah, I have the other things to worry about too”.
Anyway, removing the Os at this point sounded like the most logical idea. We already thought I had O Cancer anyway and it was option 2b in keeping me in menopause for BC, so we talked about it a little more. Doc had said for hopeful mothers, they don’t usually bring it up losing the Os, but since I had turned down fertility treatment before I started chemo, that it was another logical option. I wouldn’t have to have monthly injections (the Gasoreline stuff) for 5-10 years if the Os were gone and the side effects may be better vs the injections.
I made my decision in all of 5 minutes.
I had been off birth control since 2010 and never got pregnant.
Chemo has the potential to make you extra infertile. So they offer fertility treatments (talk about that another time) but I turned it down since I hadn’t gotten pregnant since 2010. What’s the point of saving something that doesn’t seem to work, right?
If I did the Gasoreline injections instead, I would be like 45 by the time I actually try to have kids and then there would be IVF and high risks for complications. I mean I am supposed to be getting the kids OUT of the house at 45 not having one.
According to my PET scan there is definitely something wrong with the left ovary anyway and it does cause me pain. I Could NOT deal with ovarian cancer back-to-back after breast cancer.
The Os are the reason I got cancer in the first place and could be the reason I get it again, whether breast or ovarian cancer.
Thought process over. I said, “Let’s yank those fuckers.”
So we decided to start the Gasoreline injection starting the day of my last chemo. I will start the complimentary pill Anastrozole a month later. Continue the injections until I find a surgeon for the oophorectomy.
You know, I have dealt with the fact that I can’t have kids for a long time now. I could never get pregnant before, and they make it real clear before you start chemo, they want you to do some type of fertility option, which I turned down. And then I started menopause back in May. But I guess when you decide to take the organs out you really lose ALL hope of having a family, you know. It’s sad. I hate watching baby commercials. I feel like I would have made a good mom. And I am jealous that I don’t get to experience getting pregnant with someone I love. BUT honestly, if I had the option still available, I don’t know if I would actually take it. It’s just harder once the option is gone.
It’s funny, I always told myself if I didn’t get pregnant by 28, I wouldn’t have a baby. That was my deadline for my life plan. And damn if I wasn’t diagnosed with all this as soon as I was 29. LOL. I think I am secretly psychic with my life. I mean I even knew for years I had or was going to have breast cancer.
Anyway, back on track, there is something wrong with the ovaries anyway, and I really don’t want to deal with O cancer after just having dealt with BC, and they caused my BC, and could cause it again, so I will save myself 10 years of monthly injections vs saving some organs that no longer serve a purpose in my body anymore – the Os gotta go!
I am finally posting this after chemo was complete (WOO HOO), but wrote above the day after my 14th chemo. I guess looking at this post now, all I have to say is, I was trying to find strength in my decision to lose my ovaries. I know it is the most logical decision, but the ovaries make you a woman, you know? It’s just like if you asked any patient, “Would you like to keep or lose your hair during your treatment?” I guarantee you, we would all say, “Duh! We want to keep our hair!” Hair is like ovaries – we want to keep it. It’s what makes us a woman. But it’s not my hair and it’s not my ovaries that is going to keep me alive and away from future chemo and future surgeries. I would never want to put my family through this again so as I ended the post originally on Aug 23, I will end it now on Sept 18, with the same phrase – “THE Os GOTTA GO!”