Saturday, March 29, 2014

TAMOXIFEN, CANCER, THE BREAST. . . and the power of paying attention

I was serious when I told the medical oncologist that the effects of a month of Tamoxifen were a matter of degree more than any new problems.  And my life was constantly changing; even seeing another new doctor meant one more adjustment.

Now I find myself feeling so much fatigue, and weight, feeling old and walking slower.  I remember having a lot more energy during the weeks of radiation!

I got out my copy of The Immune Power Personality.  Dreyer focuses a lot on paying attention to the body and our life.  He offers a chart we can use to connect a symptom to what's going on in us and to us at the time--emotions, moods, memories, physical sensations, work, relationship, and so on.  I tried the chart long ago, and had trouble staying with it.

But based on the work of Gary E. Schwartz,  former Director of the Yale Psychophysiology Center,  Dreyer has a list of what to look for after we've done that chart for just a week.  I can use these. Here are a few sample questions: 

Do particular symptoms worsen when certain emotions are activated?

Do particular symptoms worsen when certain events take place?

Are particular emotions associated with other physical sensations?

Are certain sensations associated with particular moods?

Do your worst symptoms occur at work?  During interactions with particular individuals?

Could asking these questions be useful even for patients with more immediately dangerous cancers than DCIS?  Even for problems with chemo?  

For me, the list is right on target, and could guide me on what I report at the next oncologist visit.

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