Some of you may know the feeling….your face starts to feel hot, the feeling spreads to your chest, and then you start to sweat. You are having a hot flash!
Most women go through menopause naturally, and experience hot flashes gradually. Some women will be forced into menopause due to surgery or chemotherapy, which can bring on hot flashes instantly. Women who take medications to prevent recurrence of breast cancer have the worst hot flashes known to womankind! I know this personally, and so do many of my friends.
You may have heard of the drug, Tamoxifen. This was the first drug I took after chemo to prevent a cancer recurrence. I woke up the same time every night sweating, and hot as hell. I was up for a while after having the hot flash, or what some like to call night sweats. I had a hard time falling back to sleep. During the day, I had around 50 hot flashes a day. I kid you not! I asked my oncologist to take me off Tamoxifen.
I tried two different drugs known as aromatase inhibitors, which work differently then Tamoxifen. Tomoxifen blocks estrogen in the body. Some breast cancers are estrogen receptive, meaning the cancer feeds off the estrogen.
Aromatase inhibitors stop an enzyme called aromatase from changing other hormones into estrogen, lowering estrogen levels in the body (source: American Cancer Society).
I tried Femarra first. I still had hot flashes day and night, and terrible joint pain. Next, was Aromasin. Same side effects as the Femarra, but more tolerable.
After three years on these drugs, my body was adjusting nicely, and the hot flashes started to subside, especially during the day. Happy, happy, joy, joy!
Well, that didn’t last long.
Once I started chemotherapy again, those nasty flashes came back with a vengeance. Ugh! I am now taking a drug called Faslodex, for my anti-estrogen therapy. I thought the hot flashes and night sweats were pretty awful when I was on the previous medications. They are no match compared to the Faslodex.
My oncologist tells me the hot flashes are a good thing. It means my body is metabolizing the medication. This makes me feel better about being on Faslodex.
I am pretty fortunate to have warning signs (sometimes) before a hot flash begins. I will get very thirsty, or I will feel very nervous. Then, FOOSH…..that damn hot feeling begins and the sweating starts . Sometimes my face and chest will turn a lovely shade of red.
There are some meds available for patients with estrogen receptive positive breast cancer. Most are anti-depressants. I tried one a few years back. I am a happy, hyper, outgoing person. When I started the drug, it changed my personality. I stayed on it for three days. That was enough.
Whether you get hot flashes naturally, or due to medications or surgery, they are a pain the ass. They interrupt our sleep, make us change our clothing and makes us feel uncomfortable around others.
If you would like to share how you control your hot flashes, I and I am sure others would be very interested.
For me, I always make sure to have a nice iced cold water with lemon with me at all times. At bed time, I sleep with the central AC, a ceiling fan and a table fan on my night stand next to my iced water. Even with all that I still wake up hot and sweaty.
Covers on, covers off……the story of my night life!
Sleep well, my friends, and stay cool.