I really struggled with the decision to take Tamoxifen, which is the most commonly recommended pharmaceutical for hormonal breast cancers. I had read absolute horror stories about the side effects, and had known women personally who suffered so badly on the drug they had to come off. While of course through the process I did what my doctors recommended (mostly; there were some things I refused like chemotherapy as a “preventative”; my Oncotype score showed there was no apparent benefit to it and seriously, the idea of using it as a preventative made about as much sense to me as removing a lung to avoid lung cancer) I also enlisted the services of functional medicine practitioners and did acupuncture, made additional dietary and supplement changes and had some very specific lab work done to give me an idea of where I may have underlying issues that could have contributed to my condition.
Still, with all of the things I was doing, I agonized about whether I should take the Tamoxifen and nobody could make that decision but me. What if I made a mistake? What if I started taking it and it caused a pile of other problems creating situations where I had to take even more drugs? This particular scenario has always been the biggest thing about conventional medicine that bothered me – the giving of drugs that cause more problems and the need for more drugs without ever trying to find the root cause of any illness and keeping people sick and medicated.
As I weighed pros and cons, I thought about the Parable of the Flood. If you’re not familiar with this story, it’s basically about a man who is stranded on the roof of his house during a flood and he prays to God to save him. Various people come by to help the guy; someone in a row boat, then a motorboat, followed by a helicopter but each time he refuses and tells the potential rescuers that he will be fine because he has faith that God will rescue him. Eventually he drowns and when he gets to Heaven he asked God why he didn’t save him. God replied “I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”
Recalling this story I thought “how dumb would it be for me to turn away from potentially the one thing that could save my life?” Are possible side effects worse than dying from cancer? Ummm – nope. That’s a hard “no” from me. I decided to take the Tamoxifen and see what happened. After my first dose I called a friend to get her to check up on me (it sounds like overkill but the side effect stories I had heard of were horrible and required emergency trips to the hospital!) and as luck would have it, I am one of those people who have ZERO side effects. None. Nada. Nothing. To anyone else out there concerned like I was about taking this drug for a few years of your life, there are those of us who do not suffer from side effects. Yes, we are rare, and 100% there are absolutely people who have had terrible problems with it but someone else’s experience does not necessarily become ours. It could be my diet, exercise & self care regime that has seen me without side effects or it could just be that my body doesn’t react to it – whatever it is, it’s working and I’m going to go with it.
There’s more to healing than just rigid “one or the other” mindsets about conventional or holistic medicine. While science and modern technology have helped us make incredible progress with treating illness and disease, there are still practices in “modern” medicine that seem absolutely barbaric. Conversely, eating a bag of tiger dicks for erectile dysfunction – also barbaric. For my situation, I want to continue to ensure that I utilize the benefits of the combined science and wisdom in conventional, holistic and alternative medicine to achieve true healing – without the consumption of any mammalian genitalia.