I have been on Anastrozole 1mg for six weeks. In the first two weeks I had severe joint pain in my thumbs followed by extreme exhaustion. This was accompanied by foggy brain and an overall sense of feeling down or blue. It had become increasingly difficult to concentrate and the energy required to get through a day was enormous.
I fought the symptoms for the first four weeks and was tempted to quit the medication. But then things settled into a quiet malaise of disconnected weariness and I became somewhat anesthetized to its impact. It had become my new normal.
Today, I sat down with my medical oncologist for a 90-day check in. After asking me about how I was doing I found myself feeling very emotional. He asked me whether I had had any side effects from the medication. As I started talking, tears slide down my face - the bottom line was that I no longer felt like myself.
His immediate response was, "Stop taking the medication. It's clearly not the right one for you."
And so, I'm going to come off of the medication for the next 3-4 weeks so that I can return to the person I know myself to be. Once I have stabilized I will try another medication. He affirmed that the secondary treatment process is hit or miss but that there are several medication options in addition to the dosing variables.
What surprised me was the malaise that I was denying, the exhaustion that I was blocking, the sadness that I was pushing away - I had been forcing myself through it, telling myself to suck it up and keep moving. It took some old fashioned, face to face time with my physician (each of us in masks) for me to realize the depth of the impact of this initial round of treatment.
As I sat in my car after his empathic listening and treatment changes I wept with relief over the fact that I was going to get my life back! Denial is a powerful force.