Hello everyone. I'm not sure how many men you have contributing, but I'm sure I'm not the only one. My lovely wife was diagnosed with Breast Cancer just before her 40th birthday in December 2010. She had 9 months of Chemo which included Herceptin and Docetaxel, Radiotherapy, and a mastectomy with lymph node removal. This was followed by a couple of years of Tamoxifen. After suffering abdominal cramps, she had both Ovaries removed due to cysts, (I'm convinved this was the start of Ovarian Cancer caused by Tamoxifen.), but no one ever biopsied them. I still wonder why. At 42 she was then post-menopausal, (she was happy never to buy sanitary towels ever again),and the meds changed to Anastrazole. Unfortunately, the side effects meant a change to Exemestane. These were no better. The only other option was Letrazole. She is now 5 years down the road from diagnosis. We expected the side effects during all the hospital treatment, not 5 yrs down the road. She is tired all the time. Her libido (and mine) has gone. Which is bloody annoying since we have been together for 26 years and always had a great sex life. (well I enjoyed it !) She is in constant pain from her finger, elbow and knee joints. Walking, flipping the bird and elbowing her way to the bar all cause her pain. Her sight had deteriorated rapidly, so much so that she has gone from single lenses to variofocals in a year. She gets blinding headaches at random times. She gets dizzy spells and heart palpitations at really odd times when there has been no physical or sporting activity . Then there are night sweats - but she complaints of being cold most of the time. She has nightmares and mumbles and shouts incoherently. She jerks around quite alot too. Sometimes for hours. Its like trying to sleep whilst Usain Bolt does laps round the bed. She / We havent slept properly for five years and for the past year, I've slept mainly in the spare room to increase the chance of at least one of us getting some sleep. These symptoms are miserable but my greatest fear is for her mental health. This is a woman, who was good with numbers, who could make quick fire, informed decisions in high pressure situations. She was confident, outgoing and well respected in the organisation that we work for. She could juggle numerous work and home tasks, whilst enjoying a glorious social life. Now she struggles to remember the dog's name. She will start a sentence and forget what she was going to say by the end of it. She cant remember words for things, and generally we just point at things now, or go through a game of Charades with me shouting out words like, "tea pot", "skirting board" and "butt plug" just for a laugh. She is definately going to win at Christmas - unless she forgets the name of the film / book/ TV programme. Our friends are all called "Thingy" or, "You know...your mate..." Her short term memory is worse than mine. I normally get asked three times if I want a cup of tea. Sometimes it never arrives. When it does arrive, sometimes its coffee. OK, some of this is an exaggeration, but its gone on for so long now.... And she's got so aggressive and argumentative. (she'll deny it). Most husbands are wrong at some point. I'm wrong most of the time, and probably wrong for the rest of it too. I can never win an argument and minor discussions normally turn south. I am absolutely convinced that many of these symptoms are side effects of these drugs. (Most are listed on the paper info sheet in the box). I want her to stop taking them, but shes convinced the Cancer will come back. The yearly Oncology check up was **bleep**e. It wasnt even her Consultant, just some Egyptian dude on a work visa. He was more interested in looking at the new breast than talking about her meds. He didnt even do a blood test. It would appear that after the third year of survival, you become a bit of an inconvenience to the Oncology Dept. We have become very reliant on the MacMillan nurse and regularly call in with tea and cakes for a chat. After keeping it all together for five years, running around all the hospitals, bringing up our child, keeping house, running a Sea Cadet Unit and holding down a full time job as a Police Officer on shifts, around about Christmas last year, I had my own quiet mental breakdown. I turned the light off, and for a while and my mind went for a little walk. I never saw it coming. I was diagnosed with stress, extreme anxiety, depression and PTSD. I went back to work after five months and now train others to do the job I can no longer face. Was Cancer a contributing factor? Probably. Were the side effects a contributing factor - Hell yes!, just see above. I'm not sure I can stand to watch another five years of these side effects or the continual detriment to her health. Is Osteoporosis, Dizziness, Joint pain, and deteriorating mental health worse than secondary breast cancer? Which is going to extend her life expectancy or degrade our quality of life.? Is there any alternative or are we stuck in a Catch 22? This all sounds like a moan and whinge, but its not. Its become normality for us. We have laughed a lot in the past five years, mainly at ourselves. We have become emotionally closer and sometimes she remembers my real name (Which I think is **bleep**head by the way). I am just grateful that I have my wife and she has her life.
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