Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Cancer Journey Week 30

Today Kathy visited her oncologist to discuss a 5 year course of anti-estrogen (tamoxifen) therapy.    I've said before that Cancer is chronic disease and although the first phase of our journey ends on July 31 after 8 final radiation treatments, the vigilance for reoccurrence and the medications to minimize risk begins thereafter.

Tamoxifen, a competitive inhibitor for estrogen, makes great sense for Kathy because her breast cancer is estrogen receptor positive - estrogen makes it grow.   She'll have to watch for endometrial cancer (The American Cancer Society lists tamoxifen as a known carcinogen, stating that it increases the risk of some types of uterine cancer even though it lowers the risk of breast cancer recurrence) and possible memory changes.   She'll start taking Tamoxifen about 10 days after the end of radiation therapy.

We're preparing to celebrate the end of her treatment phase (chemotherapy, surgery, radiation) and the transition to maintenance and prevention on July 31.    One small complication - having just turned 50, my first ever colonoscopy is scheduled for that day so the champagne may have to wait until August 1.

Starting in August, Kathy's life becomes much easier since she no longer has to commute daily for radiation therapy.    Since Boston has two seasons - winter and road construction - the fatigue of the past 6 weeks has been significantly compounded by sitting in traffic every day for up to 3 hours.

August will be much more settled than the rest of the year thus far.   Treatment will be done, my office schedule will be iighter, my daughter will be away, and our previous home will have closed escrow.   What will we do with all that free time?

Our llama and alpacas will move to Unity Farm the week of August 20 (assuming all our fences are finished, our hay arrives, and the folks transporting the herd will be available).

We just learned that our llama is likely pregnant, so we'll have a mama llama.  The llama gestation period is 11.5 months, so she'll likely have the cria (baby llama) next Summer.   I welcome suggestions for names.   The suggestions I've had thus far are Dolly Llama and Ding Dong (as in 'who put the Mom in Mama Llama Ding Dong?')

This weekend we'll visit the alpaca herd in Maine to learn about toenail trimming, vaccinations, and general health assessment.   I may be an emergency physician but doing procedures on a 150 pound furry camelid will be a learning experience.

After July 31, Kathy will not have another medical appointment until January 29, 2013 when she has a screening mammogram and a followup with her breast surgeon.

Next week will be my last post about this part of the cancer journey.   It has been an emotional, anxiety-filled time for both of us.   We're looking forward to maintaining wellness instead of treating illness.


Unknown said...

Barack O. Llama

I can't take credit; my wife's suggestion

Janet Atkinson said...

John and Kathy, congratulations on a job very well done. Your grace"under fire" has been monumental. As I was reading about your journey I though of Bill's and I's journey too. Kathy, you and I are very lucky women to have the men in our lives that we do. A toast to John and Bill.
Janet Atkinson

Anonymous said...

O'llama Healthcare

Anonymous said...

como-te llama

Tom Sullivan said...


Anonymous said...


Mike M said...

Llama Daba Do
Fred Flinstone used a similar expression when he concluded one adventure and was happily moving on to the next. Sounds applicable.

MargaretJ said...

Dalai Llama

Anonymous said...

How about Lucy for a girl and Izzy for a boy!

Anonymous said...

My vote is her name should be Karma :)