I’ve been on the aromatase inhibitor Letrozole (generic for Femara) for a month now. My breast cancer is estrogen receptor positive which means it requires estrogen to grow. Aromatase is the enzyme that synthesizes estrogen. Before Letrozole I took Tamoxifen which attaches to the hormone receptor in the cancer cell, blocking estrogen from attaching to the receptor. According to my oncologist, Tamoxifen is not as effective as aromatase inhibitors once a patient is post-menopausal and it’s really not as effective with my type of breast cancer, Invasive Lobular Carcinoma.
Both are powerful medications that come with a multitude of side effects. So far I feel like I am experiencing the side effects of Letrozole way more than I did with Tamoxifen. I’m more fatigued, I have increased joint pain and every time I move any part of my body it creaks and cracks. Loudly. I experienced mild joint pain with Tamoxifen but this is so much worse. I’m trying to be more active. I practiced softball again with Lili for the past three days and I am still sore. I’d like to know why it takes forever to get in shape but conversely just a blink of an eye to get out. One thing that makes me twitchy is I am STILL a good player albeit much slower but when I tell people I’ve been coaching Lili for her upcoming tryouts they kind of give me the side eyes. They assume she gets her athletic ability from her dad (understandable as he is actually super crazy athletic but has never played any American sport ever). Yes I am a bit fluffy and may look as though the only sport I’m good at is couch potatoing, and yes I had cancer and cancer treatment but you know what? I played soccer, tennis, softball, baseball and ran track. I’ve still got it dammit!
So speaking of Letrozole and its side effects, there is one new side effect I’ve been having and that is crazy-ass dreams. I think the oddest one I’ve had was a couple of weeks ago. I was with a group of people at some kind of sports bar and baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson was there and I was taking a selfie with him. I’m sure the dream was prompted by my recent softball outing with Lili but why him? Maybe he was in a commercial or something, I have no idea. I used to follow baseball as a kid but that was like more than 35 years ago. I’ve had other weird dreams too where I’m working in retail which I also haven’t done since my twenties. In those dreams I’m all stressed out because I’m either being called in to work on my day off or I’m at work and can’t ever figure out how to operate the cash register. Meanwhile the line is getting longer and longer with pissed off customers. Sometimes I have dreams that are just a jumble of different people who I may or may not know, in various realistic and unrealistic situations. I wake up kind of foggy like “what? Huh? What just happened? Is it a work day?” If you’ve ever watched Mr. Robot or Legion it’s totally like that. So stay tuned, hopefully I will find a remedy for my new creaky cracky joints and Lili will have made the school’s softball team.
ADDENDUM: In the interest of full disclosure, another side effect of Letrozole is dryness EVERYWHERE. For two weeks I’ve been pooping little rabbit pellets. True story.