So it’s been just over a year since I had cancer, and as far as I can tell, I’m still cancer free. I had an MRI in December that was all clear. The cancer never showed up on mammogram, even when we knew where it was, but it was very clear on MRI. So I’ll have a yearly MRI for a while for monitoring.
The thing is that I haven’t felt “normal” for the last year, ever since I started taking tamoxifen which is a drug that helps prevents recurrence. I’ve felt worn out generally and have not been able to train hard. At first I thought it was just because I was out of shape after not training most of last winter and would be back in shape after a couple months of training. But I didn’t start feeling any better. But then my husband was traveling a lot for work so I thought maybe the single parenting thing was taking more out of me than I realized. Then he stopped traveling and still I didn’t feel any better. In fact, I was slowing getting worse. I was gradually getting slower compared to the rest of my teammates when we did intervals and feeling less and less able to go hard. Every time I tried to go hard I quickly felt leaden and wobbly and like I just couldn’t go. I wondered if I was getting anemic and had some blood tests done but they looked normal. After a few more months of not feeling good I went in again for some more tests and after a lot of reading I think I’m starting to figure out what is going on. My calcium was on the very low end of normal and my alkaline phosphatase was significantly low. I read that this is seen in some women on tamoxifen. So I did some more reading to see if this could be the cause of how I felt. I found a great article on the role of calcium in muscle fatigue, http://jp.physoc.org/content/536/3/657.full. Calcium is required for muscle to fire properly. As phosphate builds up as a waste product, it can bind to the calcium so it is no longer available to the muscle. Alkaline phosphatase helps remove phosphate from other molecules. So I started to wonder if low calcium, combined with low alkaline phosphatase, would cause calcium depletion and muscle fatigue. The article talked about depletion setting in within 1-2 minutes and that has been true for me. I felt fine when I did 30 second pickups, but anything longer and I like my body went into slow motion. So today I started taking some calcium supplements to see if that helps. Even tonight at practice I felt much better. I felt like I was out of shape from not being able to go hard all year, but I felt like my body was at least working properly even if it was tired. Even Dave commented that I looked much better today, like I was going harder than usual. I’m almost afraid to think that I’ll be able to resolve this and feel good again, like it’s all just wishful thinking. But if other people notice the difference too, it can’t just be in my head. I have an appointment next week and I’ll talk to my doctor about it and have some more tests done to try to confirm my theory. But hopefully I’ll be back to normal and feeling better soon.