The ramifications of tamoxifen and your decision to exercise

In the summer issue of this magazine, I wrote on the topic of your choices before and after breast cancer. Writing in the same vein of thought, I would like to draw your attention to the choice of “taking the prescrition of tamoxifen or not”.

This choice is ultimately yours, but is most often the choice of your oncologist. There is a reason why your medical consultants would choose to prescribe tamoxifen or any other hormone blocker or inhibitors such as femara, raloxifene or anastrozole. Tamoxifen, being the most frequently prescribed hormone therapy drug to reduce the effects of estrogen towards the cancer, does have positive outcomes to your breast cancer control. Number one, of course, is treating cancers that are sensitive to hormones. Examples are er=estrogen receptor positive and pr=progesterone receptor positive.

Lower estrogen levels help to diminish the energy for cancer growth. For women who have already gone through menopause, aromatase inhibitors such as femara and anastrozole are more frequently used, but with fewer side effects.

Yes, I did write side effects, because it is true. Some of you may depict signs of hot flushes, vaginal dryness, blood clots, early menopause, even uterine cancer. Not everyone has these side effects, but you know you will have at least one of these unwanted byproducts. So here again, you will ask yourself, is it worth it? Well, probably yes, if it is going to help in the control and possible recurrence of your cancer.

I think one of the least dangerous but one of the most upsetting side effects is weight gain.

Here, however, you can make some sort of choice in your efforts to maintain or curb the weight gain. Sure, you are now dealing with a chemical induced imbalance in your body, but let us make the most of it. Frankly, why not strive to regain something positive in your life. After all, at this point you have been through quite an ordeal. Exercise will help to alleviate possible depression, and will encourage your sense of self-esteem and wellbeing.

Trying to keep your weight under control will give you a positive and reachable goal. Stimulate your endorphins to find a greater emotional balance. One thing we should all strive to is to keep positive, strong and inspirational to others. It is too easy to fall between the floorboards instead.

Be a mentor for others as there surely will be more to follow.

Once you have clear permission from your physician or oncologist, which is usually six weeks after all treatments are completed, you can begin a regime of exercises. Try cross training to see what suits you best.

You do not necessarily have to go to a gym. There is plenty to choose from.  You can do anything from pilates to yoga, walking to swimming or nia to dancing. Remember to stretch before and after your program and incorporate your entire body.  Depending on your individual case, surgeries or adjuvant therapies, take care to choose your exercise program carefully and enjoy your choice of direction for a positive outlook and approach to your life with breast cancer.

Why not?


Heidi Wright is certified in Pilates Mat, Allegro, Studio and Post Rehabilitation with Polestar Pilates and Pilates elder Lolita San Miguel. She is also a member and certified instructor with Pilates Method Alliance and a Post Rehabilitation practitioner with Pink Ribbon.