Hormones Matter TM

HRT, Breast Cancer, and Me

December 5, 2011  |  Hormone Stories

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me '07

Long ago, at becoming peri-menopausal, I asked my then gynecologist to start me on HRT. He agreed, and I began what was then standard dosage.

I never experienced menopause, and had no idea what any of the symptoms were like, as I experienced none. I also had no idea of hormone balance. Actually, no one ever mentioned it.

I continued along year after year with few problems. I was/am clear of mind, and free of pain except for the first joint of some of my fingers which become knobby. There is a name for this Heberdens Nodes. I choose to not take any form of pain killer, OTC or prescribed, no need to subject my entire body to chemicals for a pain in the fingers.
I am intact, organs and joints. Along the way, I saw a study of endometrial cells, and decided to join as that would tell me if there were any danger cells lurking. During that time, I read about an estrogen containing testosterone and discussed that with the doctor in charge of the study. He agreed that it would be a good thing for me, and at the end of the study, wrote me a prescription for Estratest.

I switched out my regular estrogen for Estratest, and in a rather short time noticed something I was rather unfamiliar with, sexual stirrings, I liked that and realized I had been testosterone deficient probably for most of my life. Next came something I had never experienced, acne, facial hair and a deeper voice, along with assertive tendencies. I took these symptoms to my primary physician and he rewrote the prescription to HS, or half strength. The symptoms went away, my skin was once again clear, facial hair minimized, voice, not sure about, assertiveness, I chose to continue with, sexual stirrings also sadly went away.

I am part of the Women’s Health Initiative in the control group, and when they released their flawed and hysterical study about breast cancer and estrogen, I elected to remain on HRT. I discussed it with my doctor and he told me it was a quality of life decision. Most of his patients stopped HRT. Whenever I asked him, along the years, he said to a person, they were all unhappy, hot flashes, wrinkles and dryness prevailed.

Recently, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in the left breast. My first visit with the breast surgeon, she asked me to stop HRT and I agreed. I have had my lumpectomy, and completed radiation, now I want back on HRT. All oncologists say no. Standard answer, not OK with me. I asked my primary physician to restart me but to substitute an estrogen patch for the Estratest, (EEMT a generic) and he declined until after he had discussed it with my oncologist. OK, I will give him that, understanding his position, but with the caveat that it was my choice and I intend to follow through.

I have been researching this via the internet and am not finding any recent studies, although there are some a few years old. My tumor was estrogen receptive. As I understand it, there must be cancer present in order for estrogen to feed it. My cancer was removed, the area radiated, so why the extra caution? Is it CYA?

There is no one meeting me believes my chronological age. I was interviewing for a Study yesterday and the researcher could not believe my age, she commented on my skin and my hands and nails, they look far younger. I told her it was HRT. I suggested that she Google Hot Flash Havoc, and suggest you all do so as well. I attended the preview of this documentary in La Jolla a few months ago, and truly know that it made a big difference in my life, and will continue to do so.

Here is that part of the story. Early in the year, I had my usual mammogram torture, which was followed by ultrasound. At that tie I was told they wanted a six month recall instead of the normal year, as they were “watching’ something that they felt was not threatening, but wanted to be sure. At that point, I did not have the information I got from Hot Flash Havoc, and agreed to the six months.

At the documentary preview, there were a few women issue related booths, among which was one for SonoCine, a whole breast imaging procedure invented by Dr. Kevin Kelly. I picked up an brochure that appeared very interesting to me. I also became aware of the little attention paid to hormonal balance in women, and even asked questions of the professional panel which was part of the presentation.

I also met a now very important person in my life, and through her, I became aware of dense breast tissue and the chicanery surrounding it intentionally. Sadly for me, I found out the six month delay I agreed to was the worst mistake I could make. At the six month recall appointment, portions of the mammogram were repeated, focusing on a couple of areas. The following ultrasound was repeated three times, first by the technician, next by a radiologist, and then the “head” radiologist who told me that they wanted to do a fine needle aspiration biopsy right then and there. That schedule was unavailable so on that Friday, I was scheduled for the biopsy on the next Wednesday.

In a panic, I called my friend, who immediately arranged a SonoCine imaging with Dr. Kevin Kelly in his Venice Beach office. That Monday, I drove South first to pick up a CD of my recent scans and ultra sound and then North to Dr. Kelly. The SonoCine was performed and was very efficient in my opinion as it was exact rather than back and forth with the usual scanning. It also went to a beginning to end continuous screening rather than a screen by screen as with a usual ultrasound. Dr. Kelly showed me the scans I had brought with me and said both areas under observation were clear of any cancer. He continued with the video and then showed me what was clear to him, cancer. He told me then and there on September 19th, 2011 that I had an invasive ductal cancer deep in my breast, not seen on my original scans. I asked him about the fine needle aspiration biopsy scheduled for Wednesday, and he suggested they may find nothing as the cancer was far deeper and may be missed.

More to follow.