Monday, February 8, 2010

Is Estrogen my Nemesis?

I would like to think that estrogen is my nemesis, but in truth I don’t know that for sure. All I have to go on are my unscientific observations of my personal health when my estrogen levels are askew. Recently my body seemed to have a reaction to estrogen; I missed my dose of Tamoxifen one day and then proceeded to get the timing of my daily pill a little bit off for the entire week. What followed seemed to be an imbalance in my hormones. By the end of the week, I felt a migraine coming and then I became exceedingly anxious. The next day, I felt another migraine coming.

Suddenly I had a flashback to the two years before I got breast cancer when I suffered from migraines first before my period, then before and during my period, then before, during and after my period (which of course, is all the time). I pretty much felt anxious all of the time too. My neurologist explained that my body was reacting to the fall in estrogen that occurs right before the menstrual cycle and the fluctuation in my hormones was causing menstrual migraines. According to her, it just happens to some women.

I am not sure what happened next to cause the migraines to become more frequent but suddenly everyday seemed to become one big migraine. I was getting rebound headaches and taking quite a bit of migraine medication. Then I got breast cancer and the headaches completely stopped.

I asked my oncologist if there was any correlation between my migraines and menopause. “You see, Dr. F I have hardly had a migraine since I started taking Tamoxifen. Is that because I no longer have that drop in estrogen production once a month?” I said. He assured me that my observations were sound. The estrogen was more than likely causing the headaches and probably the anxiety too. I wish I had known then what I know now. I would have taken better precautions. I probably would have eaten less red meat and exercised more. I definitely would have done more yoga. That might have helped with the balance of the hormones.

Then again, maybe there was nothing I could have done to prevent the cancer. Maybe I was just destined to get it sooner or later. I fit the risk factor profile; early menstruation, having children late in life, and dense breast tissue to name a few.

Regardless, I am just thankful that I am able to take Tamoxifen to help stabilize my hormones and keep that estrogen at bay. Nemesis or not, I just need to continue to work at keeping everything balanced, which of course is where we all would like to be.

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