No more trips to the chemist to collect your prescriptions? No more standing in a queue while the beleaguered pharmacist looks for lost medicines and other customers collect paper sacks full of their repeat prescriptions? Yes, no more trying to say your address and post code, your voice muffled by the masks we are still wearing in a ‘health care setting’. I heard the other day that in future we will use our 3D printers, which we will all have by then, to print out our tablets, probably combining more than one drug. Leave your computer on overnight to calculate the exact dose to suit your body mass and genetic make up. These tablets will be far more efficient, your doctor or consultant will no longer have to guess a dose that will work, but not blast you with bad side effects. Of course there is always the possibility we patients might accidentally give our computer the wrong instructions…
One thing many of us probably know about breast cancer is that you have to take tablets for five years after your main treatment, probably tamoxifen which comes from Yew trees. Looking this up I was rather disappointed to discover that it is taken from the bark of the Pacific Yew from North America. I had always fondly imagined scientists at dead of night picking berries from ancient yews in English churchyards. The early Christians built their churches on Druid sites; the Druids planted Yews as they regarded them as sacred; proven right because the Yew held the magic of healing.
It turned out that I am prescribed Anastrozole and I can’t find any romantic or ancient origins for it. Like tamoxifen it is a hormone inhibitor to protect against the types of breast cancer that love oestrogen. This is a tiny tablet to take once a day and because oestrogen is good for your bones I also have to take a very big tablet twice a day called imaginatively Adcal – D3, full of calcium and vitamin D3! Luckily these big tablets are chewed.
On my final appointment with the oncologist he said five to seven years, funny, he said five years earlier on! Perhaps I will be on Anastrozole long enough to be printing out my own tablets. Every breast cancer patient is under the hospital for five years after the main treatment, with breast care nurses at the Ladybird Suite – at my hospital, presumably other hospitals have other cute names – who can be contacted any time.
With one in seven women getting breast cancer ( six in seven Not getting it! ) at some stage, the system seems to run on very efficiently, with charities like Breast Cancer Now providing a great deal of information and help, from leaflets at the hospital to phone and on line help always available.