Despite Naked Body Inspections, I Still Love CellCept

For columnist Lisa Weber, the benefits of CellCept outweigh the risks

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by Lisa Weber |

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Back when we had to patiently sit through TV commercials, I would shake my head in confusion after hearing all the possible side effects of the medications being advertised. I was baffled that someone would be crazy enough to risk their lives for a prescription.

Until I became that person.

I’m now one of the “crazy” people habitually popping pills three times a day. My younger self would be so confused — so healthy and blissfully unaware of the diseases that can be far worse than the side effects rambled off during an enticing commercial.

I hate that I’ve been forced to mature and grow wiser through experience. It still doesn’t seem fair that my only two choices are the risks of medication and the disease progression that will strangle my vital organs in scar tissue.

But now, it’s a no-brainer. I take potentially harmful meds because, for me, the risks of scleroderma outweigh the dangers listed on the pill bottles.

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Lowering risk by following doctors’ orders

CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) is one of the scariest medications I take. The warning pamphlet that comes with this prescription resembles an encyclopedia. I could seriously go through three cups of tea before I finish digesting all the risks listed in tiny print.

However, I can lower the odds of suffering potential side effects by staying proactive and following necessary precautions. Some meds, including CellCept, require regular blood draws to monitor my body’s response. Others require me to visit ophthalmologists to check the pressure in my eyes.

One side effect of CellCept is that it increases my risk of developing skin cancer. It’s an immunosuppressant, which means it calms my immune cells so they stop attacking healthy organs. But decreasing my body’s ability to fight itself also stops my body from repairing sun damage.

As a result, my pulmonologist and rheumatologist both require me to have my skin checked regularly. They’ve made it very clear they will stop prescribing my CellCept if I don’t see a dermatologist every six months.

I loathe going to my skin doctor. There’s just something unappealing about standing naked under fluorescent lights while a doctor inspects every inch of my body with a flashlight and magnifying lens.

Regardless of how unflattering and uncomfortable the situation is, I show up faithfully to these appointments. Skin damage can present as cancer years after exposure. And while I’m extremely careful now, I wasn’t as diligent before my diagnosis.

Lowering risk by limiting sun exposure

In addition to maintaining regular appointments with my dermatologist, I do my best to avoid prolonged sun exposure by bringing UV-blocking umbrellas with me everywhere I go. I also started collecting cute hats to add one more layer of protection. My favorite style is a baseball cap, which allows me to wear a ponytail so I can really maximize lazy hair days.

As for sunscreen, that’s a bit more challenging for me. Because my skin is so sensitive, it typically reacts to the ingredients with rashes and hives. I’ve had to test various brands to find one my body tolerates. The short list includes mineral sunscreens marketed for babies.

I’m forever grateful for CellCept, despite its potential side effects. It has stopped my disease from progressing and added years to my journey on earth. I’ll gladly trade a few days of body inspections for each smile and laugh I get in return.


Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.

Comments

VeggieCarrie avatar

VeggieCarrie

I’m with you girl! Cellcept has given me my life back. I’ve been on it for 6 years. My favorite sunscreen is Australian Gold, Tinted. The tint takes away the white cast of a mineral sunscreen. I buy wide-brimmed, hiking hats with an opening in the back for a pony tail 😀

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

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