KICKING MY WAY BACK UP

     When a woman goes through breast cancer, she is often put on hormone therapy for different reasons: to reduce the chance of the cancer returning, to reduce the size of the cancer, or to control breast cancer that has returned. This therapy is given by a pill that the woman must take for five or more years. A major side effect of this type of pill is the weakening of bones and osteoporosis. While on the pill, women are told to take calcium and vitamin D to help prevent osteoporosis, but sometimes that is not enough to stop it. The inevitable happens.

     Because I am on the hormone therapy for having breast cancer, I get bone destiny scans every two years. I recently had a scan towards the beginning of this month. Wednesday I went for my six-month checkup at the cancer center. The physician’s assistant came into the exam room and asked if I had seen the results of my bone scan on the mychart app. I never read those because I don’t understand them. I prefer the doctor explain the results of my tests. So, I hadn’t read it.

     She looked at me with sympathetic eyes. “I’m sorry to tell you, you have osteoporosis.”

     I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. I couldn’t think and tears welled up in my eyes. I fought to control them. I told her I had back surgery in October for a broken bone and asked her if it could be related to the osteoporosis. She told me that it was what caused it, because the bone weakness is worse in my back especially in the lumbar.

I was in shock. I couldn’t process my new diagnosis. I’m only forty-seven years old and I have osteoporosis. This had to be a nightmare. I thought it was a nightmare when they told me I had cancer and it wasn’t. This too was real. The assistant went on to tell me of three options to treat my condition. My husband asked her which one she would suggest. She suggested an infusion I would get every six months. The infusion would take thirty minutes and it would also protect me from bone cancer. We agreed to that.

     It wasn’t until I got home it started to sink in and questions began to surface. For almost a year now I figured I had broken the bone in my back and had surgery because I have scoliosis. Now I find out it is because the bones in my back are weak. When I first felt the horrible pain in my back before my surgery, I was doing my job, reaching to clean the belt and lifting heavy items. Does this mean doing my job is dangerous to me? Could I break another bone in my back doing my job? Would I have osteoporosis for the rest of my life? How long will I have to have infusions for? Are there restrictions for work?

     After the questions, I started going through the what ifs. What if I’m walking to work and I fall beside the road, break a leg, and no one stops to help me? What if I’m walking downstairs in the morning and I fall down the stairs, breaking several bones, and am unable to reach my phone to call for help? What if at work I lift a twenty-four pack of pop and I break another bone in my back? What if a customer bumps into me, I fall, and break my hip? The what ifs started small and kept growing bigger and bigger. I began to imagine myself in those situations.

     This new condition became a life altering tragedy. I’m a very emotional person. I feel emotions strongly and sometimes they lead me back to that hole of depression. Part of my mental illness is feeling things more intensely than others. Finding out I had yet another health problem brought a flood of emotions. I was sad, angry, scared, and frustrated. Once we left the cancer center, all I could do was cry. For several days I went in and out of crying spells.

     Cancer stole my breasts from me, because of it I had a hysterectomy, and now I have osteoporosis. This is just not fair. How could I get osteoporosis at the age of forty-seven from a medication I take? Why me? How could I have another health problem? Damn breast cancer has taken so much from me and it doesn’t stop. It keeps kicking me and pushing me down. I’ve been cancer free for three years and now this. I feel like a porcelain doll that could easy break if not taken care of properly.

     I asked my friend Kelly if I was magnifying my diagnosis. She told me she felt I was and that many women live full lives with osteoporosis. My friend Cheryl said she knows how emotional I get about things and how I magnify things.

When I think about it both friends are right. I have taken this diagnosis like it’s a life ending condition, but it’s not. With treatment, exercise, and calcium and vitamin D supplements, I can live a full life. I may have to do light duty at work, which is express registers, but I like those registers. No heavy lifting. If I take care of myself, I may never break a bone again. I’m only on the hormone therapy for two more years. I can kick myself through this disease and not let it defeat me.

Breast cancer is an awful disease. The medications for it can takes their toll on our bodies. It also takes a toll on us mentally. It’s easy to feel hopeless and get sad. If you already have mental illness, it can push you backwards into the dark hole of depression. This illness is like a kick in the gut. It keeps kicking you until you’re on your knees, but you can kick yourself back up to your feet. Don’t give up. Fight breast cancer and fight mental illness.

I must get an exam and blood work before I start getting infusions, but I’m no longer going to let this new health problem drag me down. I’m standing in the light kicking at whatever tries to pull me down.

6 thoughts on “KICKING MY WAY BACK UP

  1. Hi Aimee,
    Yes, so glad your friends answered you honestly. I know you asked me, too, but I was distracted by my brother’s health issues that evening. I have various friends with osteoporosis and I, myself, have osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis). I know it’s something we need to address but many people live with long, successful lives with it. I love how, when confronted with the truth, you adapt your emotions to the “adjust” setting of your life. Keep on doing that!
    Love, Amy

    Like

    • Amy,
      I knew you were busy with your brother. I understood why you were unable to answer. When I had my first bone scan 2 years ago I had ostropenia. My mom has ostropenia. I was shocked how fast it went to osteoporosis. My therapist taught me to look at the positive side of things. Although I struggle to find the good I eventually do find it with help from my support team.
      Thank you for always being supportive.
      Aimee

      Like

  2. Aimee, I just wanted to let you know that my mother was diagnosed with osteoporosis too. She took supplements and then had to have infusions. She had been 5’8″ and shrunk 4 inches. We were worried but the infusions helped. At her last bone density scan her bone density was nearly normal!! Granted it took almost 5 years to work but it does work!! Do not despair!!

    Like

    • Rosemarie,
      Thank you for the uplifting comment. God has gotten me through a lot and I’m sure he’ll get me through this. I hopefully only have two more years on the hormone therapy. After I’m off that I’m sure I’ll get stronger.
      Aimee

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s