I went into surgical menopause at the age of 46½ after my hysterectomy that I had due to womb cancer. That was in January 2010. Call me naïve but I never for one moment realised that I would be plunged into menopause; maybe it was because I so focussed on the cancer and just didn’t think of anything else.
I was initially told they were 99.9% sure they had got all the cancer & I wouldn’t need further treatment but when the oncologist reviewed my notes he decided I needed chemotherapy and then external radiotherapy. That lasted until mid July, the week before my 47th Birthday!
It was a week later that I experienced my first hot flush and boy was it a big one. I think the treatment may well have been masking the menopause effects as I had a tough time with the chemotherapy especially.
I spoke to my gynaecologist about it; more about the long term effects rather than the hot flushes as both my Mom and my Aunt, her elder sister had osteoporosis and I was concerned about being diagnosed with it too. He told me not to worry about it; his reasoning was that because I had been big all my adult life and not yo-yo dieted I had technically been doing weight bearing exercises. When I first mentioned it to him I only knew about my Aunt having osteoporosis, I only learnt about my Mom having been diagnosed a few weeks later so mentioned it to him a gain at the next appointment as I was even more concerned knowing they had both been diagnosed but again he was adamant that there was nothing to worry about.
I had also been told that I was unable to have HRT because my cancer had been oestrogen receptive but I was not given any further advice by either him or my GP. When I went to see my GP and spoke about menopause issues I was told that all women go through it and I should just “learn to live with it”. She was a female GP too!!!
Well, I’m now 11 years on from going into surgical menopause and although I no longer have hot flushes I am convinced that the medical issues I now have are as a result of not getting proper menopause care. The list of health issues just keeps getting longer. I was hospitalised in Oct 2020 with heart problems; had a mini stroke & was diagnosed with diabetes. I suffer with insomnia, terrible fatigue, memory & concentration issues; cognitive issues as well as lymhoedema; underactive thyroid; pelvic radiation disease; an epi-gastric hernia that they won’t repair because of the bowel issues the list goes on. Add onto all that the effects of self isolating for the past 12 months due to covid and I am now housebound and virtually reliant on my husband (who has his own health problems) to care for me.
Running Womb Cancer Support UK has made me more than aware that there are many women who are not getting proper menopause support. Like me, they are being denied HRT and not being given any other alternative help other than anti-depressants which are not the answer.
Over the past few years I have searched for information, not only for myself but that I can pass on to the many other women who are struggling.
Diane Danzebrink, who runs Menopause Support also went into surgical menopause after a hysterectomy. She has been a wonderful source of information & support with her website and FB page & closed support group. She is passionate about the need to change the way menopause is seen and make sure that women get the proper help & support they need.
Just because menopause is something that is inevitable and will happen to most women at some point in their life does not mean we should just accept our lot and put up with it. It can have major health implications if not treated properly and in many cases can lead to mental health issues and even suicide.
We deserve better which is why I keep sharing the petition that Diane set up calling for better menopause support from GP’s, in the workplace and in education. Please if you haven’t already signed then do so. If not for yourself, then your daughter, sister, mother, best friend etc. It’s not just a petition for women either because this issue affects men too – they have mothers, sisters, daughter, partners.
This affects everyone in one way or another so please sign and share across all your social media platforms – this is important.