Breast Cancer Hormone Therapy Side Effects

tamoxifen side effects

Breast Cancer Under 40  

Tamoxifen side effects have taken over my life. I can’t help that I feel angry some days, like today. My reconstructed breast is aching, my head is a bit fuzzy and I am absolutely exhausted. I share my experience with you to give you an idea of how Tamoxifen can affect you. Keep in mind that many women don’t suffer from any side effects at all. I was not that lucky.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I was terrified. My husband and family were all afraid because we had no idea what we were about to face.

So when my excellent breast cancer team recommended a mastectomy with no radiation and no chemotherapy, I was relieved. I would just have to take hormone therapy, in my case a little pill called Tamoxifen, every day for five years, they said. I have a very weak stomach and knew that chemotherapy would be very hard on me.

No chemo and a little pill? Sure, I can handle Tamoxifen side effects, I thought to myself. On top of not spending the next several months hovering over a toilet, I would not lose my hair. All of that sounds good, right? Well, what I did not know is that hormone therapy would not be a cakewalk. I had no idea that a year and a half later I’d still be feeling pretty bad.

Breast Cancer Drugs: Tamoxifen Side Effects

Tamoxifen has taken over my life. I have what I call fatigue swings. I can be doing fine one moment and then suddenly I feel like I’m about to melt to the floor from exhaustion.


If you have not entered menopause yet, you may be prescribed a hormone therapy drug. Tamoxifen (brand name Nolvadex) is a 20 milligram pill that you take for 5 years (sometimes 10 years) if your breast cancer tested positive for hormones like estrogen and progesterone. It is supposed to bind (block) estrogen receptors, which causes breast cancer to grow in women with estrogen positive tumors. 

Below is a list of the side effects that I have experienced in 17 months:

  • Extreme fatigue, exhaustion
  • Long lasting hot flashes (with 100 degree temperature!)
  • Heavy sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain (over 20 pounds!)
  • Insomnia (wake up every 2 hours!)
  • Aching joints (especially my  knees!)

I have a love/hate relationship with Tamoxifen (honestly, more hate than love).

HATE because I will never feel like the old me until I finish my five year treatment. LOVE because it gives me hope that my breast cancer may not return.

So after getting through the mastectomy in the fall of 2016 and the reconstruction seven months later, I never thought that I’d still be dealing with this breast cancer stuff. I thought I’d pop a pill everyday and go on with my life. But instead, like at this very  moment while I am typing, I am suddenly completely exhausted.

Here is a good article about Tamoxifen side effects.

Ladies, if you have some secrets on how you fight fatigue and other symptoms on the list, I’d love to hear from you. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook!

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