Hormones

I just got done enjoying a bowl of the 5 minute banana “ice cream” that I referenced the other day.  This is my new favorite treat… and guilt-free!  Ethan and David even love it!  I just can’t believe there’s no dairy in it.  Ethan was clamoring for more, but I didn’t have any more bananas frozen.  I think I need to stock up on those!

The other day, a call to my financial adviser got me into a conversation about hormones.  Apparently, a few of them in the office were seeing a local doctor who specializes in treatments that focus on restoring / stabilizing hormones in the body.  They thought it might be something I would be interested in, and that it might help me.  I did check out his website and learned that he has a lengthy waiting list.  New patients need not even call until January 2014.

So I tried email, just to see if he would even be able to help me.  I sent an inquiry, providing a Readers’ Digest version of my history, and asked if he thought there was anything he could do for me.  He didn’t answer that question directly, so I’m assuming I’m a lost cause!  🙂  But following is his response:

The treating physicians have only one concern: to provide whatever treatment will delay the return of the cancer by the 5 year point. Aromatase inhibitors do that, to some degree. They completely deprive the breast cancer cells and the rest of your body of estrogen. The estrogen deprivation does appear to slow cancer cell growth–if there are any live cells left, but at the expense of your quality of life and your health. Not only do you feel terrible, but you are losing bone mass and you have an increasing tendency towards estrogen-deficiency-related diseases: diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive dysfunction. 

I do not know the exact overall 5 year recurrence-survival benefit of using an AI, nor how that compares exactly to the costs to quality of life and long-term health. I did see one mention that after 5 yrs. of AI therapy the drug causes enough problems that it overweighs the cancer-survival benefit, that is why they limit therapy to 5 yrs. Basically, you need to look into all the risks and benefits and make your own decision. Pub Med online allows you to search for medical articles.

I guess none of his response is a surprise, and it was refreshing to have an MD who spoke honestly about the damages these drugs do to one’s body.  But his response really hit me hard.  “At the expense of your quality life and your health…”  “Estrogen-deficiency-related diseases…”  It’s amazing to me how no one really talks to you about the trade offs.  Since I went back to the Femara (but not every day), I continue to struggle with this raging debate.  And I struggle with symptoms…what’s a real issue and what’s a Femara side effect?  It’s so hard to tell, and it’s scary.  (More on that tomorrow.)

His response really made me think, too, about all that our hormones do.  As women, I think we tend to associate hormones with reproduction, but they do so much more than that.  Here are some excerpts from the website hormonerestoration.com:

Hormones are the most powerful molecules in our bodies, controlling the function, growth reproduction, metabolism, and repair of every cell. Our bodies require optimal hormone levels, just as they require optimal levels of essential vitanutrients: vitamins, 
fats, amino acids, and minerals.

Insufficient hormone levels have been shown to contribute to many of the disorders and diseases that we suffer as we age–
diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, fatigue, loss of muscle strength, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, cognitive 
decline, increased cholesterol levels, blood clots, increased belly fat, loss of libido, depression, and some cancers.

It really makes you appreciate the wide spread damage that hormone depletion can do.  Just more to think about, I guess, in my ongoing personal debate.

By the way, no call from the oncologist yet regarding my colonoscopy, and as for the urologist, he wants to see me.  Appointment is in three weeks…

 

Hormones (2008) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1208717/

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