Breast Cancer: Should I take tamoxifen after my lumpectomy?

The year 2018 started with a common but peculiar phenomenon which we long know. What is that? For the past two months, most of the patients who came to seek our help either had breast cancer or liver cancer! Later we will see this trend changes to some other cancers.

Breast cancer patients who came fall either one of these two groups.

  1. Those who found lump (s) in their breast. Did a biopsy followed by surgery. Then doctors asked them to go for chemo, radiation and/or take tamoxifen. That’s the classical standard recipe. What to do now after the surgery?
  1. Those who have undergone all the medical treatments — surgery, chemo, radiation and hormonal therapy. These treatments failed. So, what to do now?

Let me share some stories. By doing this, I hope you can learn from the experiences of others. In life we don’t need or don’t have time to repeat the mistakes that others before us go through. So, be wise.

This is the story of Ms A.

About 20 years ago Ms A had a 5 mm lump in her breast. A biopsy was done and the result turned out to be negative. Unfortunately the so-called non-cancerous lump was not removed.

Fast forward to January 2018, Ms A felt the lump which she was keeping in her breast was not “normal” in size. She went to consult a surgeon who did a lumpectomy (removal of the lump only). Some of the lymph nodes were removed and were found to be “clean”.

Unfortunately, the tumour was malignant and was positive for hormone receptors. Because of that the doctor wanted Ms A to take tamoxifen for 5 to 10 years.

Ms A was referred to an oncologist. She told the oncologist that she preferred to take herbs instead of tamoxifen. The oncologist replied, It is up to you to decide. 

Ms A was unsure which path to take. She wrote me an email. Since she was coming home to Penang for the Chinese New Year, she wanted to drop by our centre to ask for advice. Okay, that was fine with me.

Ms A and her husband came. They wanted to know my view on tamoxifen. Listen to our conversation that morning.

 

Comments 

What do I do now? Follow what my breast surgeon asked me to do or follow my heart? 

My response:

I am afraid I cannot give an outright answer. You have to make your own decision and you bear the consequences of that decision. If the cancer comes back again or your suffer the side effects of the treatment, it is you who have to suffer, not others.

But to help you get out of this dilemma I suggest you do the following.

  1. Discuss the problem with your family members. Ms A has three children and one of them is a pharmacist. According to the pharmacist daughter, that is what breast cancer patients do — they take tamoxifen!

But more important is your husband. If you cannot get your husband on your side — to give you a hundred percent support — then, your “battle” is lost even before going to the battle field!

Accordingly to Ms A’s husband, tamoxifen is scientifically proven and herbs are just supplement. If this is what it is, my advice is don’t ever think of taking herbs! Go for the “scientific” stuff.

  1. To get a balanced view, my advice is to read as much as you can! Educate yourself. It is your health and it your life.

But the problem with most people is they don’t like to read — they don’t want to learn the truth for themselves. They prefer to just listen to way others say and do what others tell them to do. That is, to led by the nose.

Of course, there are others who believe they are already smart and they don’t need to know more, especially if it is not seen to be “scientific” (whatever that means!).

  1. When in this desperate situations when you don’t know what to do, I suggest that you turn to your god for help. Pray and ask for guidance. Of course, some people will laugh at me! There also some people who are already angry with god for “giving them this cancer” — why pray some more?

Well, I understand. Each of us has our own ideas about the Divine. For me, I know that there is a God who is loving enough to help you — to help and guide if you sincerely ask for His help — the way that this same God helps me in my work with cancer patients for the past twenty over years.

With these three suggestions I told Ms A to go home, without prescribing her any herbs. If you need my help in the future, you can come back and see me again. 

Let me remind everyone who wants to come and see us. Our therapy is not easy to follow. If you are not fully committed or are half-hearted in your belief, my advice is to go and see someone else for help.

For those who believe that tamoxifen is “scientifically proven” and herbs are hocus pocus, you may wish take a pause and read a bit more.

  1. Go to the net and read what others, you are in the same boat like you, wrote about tamoxifen: https://community.macmillan.org.uk/cancer_types/breast-cancer/f/38/t/140439

Posted by Lizzy4u, 19 October 2017

I’ve been on Tamoxifen for 10 months and have awful side effects. The worst being joint pains, so bad that I can hardly move at times. My oncologist said to stop the Tamoxifen for 6 weeks and see if there is a difference… I am stiff when I wake up, then once I get moving it eases off but then if I’ve been on my feet longer than an hour it get worse and worse. My daughter said to me the other day she has not seen a day go past that she’s not seen me limping. I’m also experiencing the most awful hot flushes that I get no sleep and I’m exhausted all the time, have itching when I have these flushes. Etc

Posted by LondonLass, 19 October 2017

Hi Lizzy4u, I had exactly the same issues as you. I lasted 20 months but that was only because my oncologist kept pushing me to keep going, his view was the first 2 years were the most important. I won’t go into what happened with me as it doesn’t help you. I will however say there are other options!

However, I think you have to bear in mind that all of these treatments will cause menopausal symptoms and of course it’s worse for us as we are being forced into menopause! …. Worth discussing everything with your oncologist, the more information you can get the better. You need to be able to make an informed decision. At the end of the day it’s your body, your life and your decision! I know how it feels to feel so old and unhappy!

  1. If you want to know what happened to those patients who came to CA Care after being on tamoxifen … read these two stories …..

No more tamoxifen for me

Breast Cancer: Part 4: Radiation Helped but Did Not Cure, Tamoxifen Disastrous

 3. If you think alternative healers are just quacks, read what some researchers and doctors have got to say about tamoxifen.

Pierre Blais, a well known drug researcher, said: Tamoxifen is a garbage drug that made it to the top of the scrap heap.

And here are more for you to digest ….

 

 

 

 

 

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