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    Side Effects (Bleeding): In May of 2011, one and a half years after starting Tamoxifen, I started experienced heavy bleeding. I had also stopped menstruating at the same time I had my lumpectomy, in September of 2009. So the bleeding was extremely unusual. My gynecologist attributed it to a side effect of the Tamoxifen, which I stopped taking. I had to have a D&C and switch to Arimidex. Now, in October of 2012, I am experiencing joint stiffness and swelling as well as extreme hot flashes, which my oncologist is suggesting might be a side effect of the Arimidex. I have stopped taking the Arimidex for about two weeks, with no relief so far.

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    Celebration (Finished treatment): I work at a small private school, with the whole school sharing in my treatment journey. I posted a sign on my window that I was celebrating a new beginning and claiming myself "cancer free." I began to search for ways to share with as many as possible the possibility of life after breast cancer. I did a local Bras for the Cause fundraiser walk in May, less than five months after my last radiation treatment. Two months later I participated in a Relay for Life walk, which I have done every year since. Every October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wear pink every day in hopes that I can share my story and exhort women to be vigilant about mammograms and self exams.

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    Radiation (External radiation ): I had radiation 5 days a week for 6 and 1/2 weeks at a facility about 20 minutes from my home. The staff there were fantastic and a joy to see every day! I almost looked forward to my 10 minutes in the radiology room. A friend that had gone through recent cancer treatment had recommended a cream, which I began using even before radiation, so the effects on my skin were minimal. I did not experience any tiredness or fatigue, even though the last few weeks of treatment were during the Christmas season. I am a positive person, eat a healthy diet, lead a physically active lifestyle, never skimp on sleep and had a lot of supportive friends.

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    Decision Point (I had to decide whether or not to have chemotherapy.): I had an oncotype test done which tests the likelihood of the same cancer returning. The hardest part was waiting for the results, which took almost three weeks. Fortunately, my score was a definitive 7 out of 100, rather than closer to the middle, which would leave me guessing about my chances of recurrent cancer. I chose not to have chemo based on the test.

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    Procedure or Surgery (Lumpectomy): My surgery and recovery went very smoothly without any problems. I returned to work within one week. However three years later I still have aches and pain in my breast and a lot of scar tissue, which I don't remember being advised about.

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    User: GregP_WN