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Thanks, Tamoxifen? - and an anticlimactic milestone


3 years ago I had my first bone density test. The results came back showing mild osteopenia. Yesterday I had my second scan, and the results came back this morning with about 5% improvement, putting me in normal range. I had no idea bone density could improve! Naturally, my hypervigilant anxious brain immediately told me I must have bone mets, even though I've been repeatedly assured bone density tests don't show this information. Then my rational side took over, and I remembered hearing that tamoxifen can have a protective effect on bones. A quick google search confirmed that I was remembering this correctly, including the Royal Osteoporosis Society stating "Tamoxifen is not associated with significant bone loss in postmenopausal women; there is actually some bone protection provided by the drug and small increases in bone density may occur."

Tamoxifen gave me gynecological complications leading to a complete hysterectomy, but then, it seems, it apologized by going to work on my bones, protecting them in a way it wouldn't have if I were still menstruating. So, I'll give it that, and hopefully also I can take this as a sign that it's also doing its primary job of protecting the rest of my body from cancer.

I didn't plan it this way, but the timing of the scan lined up with what I had thought would feel like huge milestone: I took my final tamoxifen pill last night, after the scan but before seeing the results. So, no pill for me tonight, yay! It would all feel a lot more celebratory if I was truly done with hormone treatment, but alas, it's just a short break: I have a bottle of anastrozole ready to crack open right after Thanksgiving, and am going to do my best to stick it out for at least 2 years. At last I can start this new phase with the assurance that my bones aren't already in poor condition.