As if having breast cancer isn’t enough, but I also get to add treatment-induced menopause to that shit-list.
With that said though, I try my best not to complain (*too much*), because at least I have treatment options. There are certain types of cancers that don’t, and I couldn’t imagine what that would be like to find out. So the fact that I’m in menopause because of my treatment, and because that treatment is working, is oddly enough, a beautiful thing!!
Right before Christmas I went into chemo-induced menopause and started experiencing hot flashes. But when comparing stories with other women going through "the change" (due to treatment), I think I got off pretty easy.
For the most part, they’d hit in the evenings. I’d get maybe four or five of them and they’d last for about a minute or two. The back of my neck would get clammy, but I would hardly even break a sweat like a lot of women do. It was more of a “cooking from the inside-out” kinda feeling. Super weird, to say the least!
Once in LaLa land, I would sleep through them, but would wake up after the fact with a chill because I'd kicked all the blankets off. And I'd have to get up and go for a wee every time, which was super annoying because I'd get three or four of them a night. Thankfully I'm a sleeper, so I could pretty much sleep walk myself to and from the loo, and fall back asleep without hardly skipping a beat.
Again though, I got off pretty lucky, as I'd heard from many women that they would wake up soaked, and have to change clothes and sleep on towels. And that was definitely not the case for me.
As far as daytime flushes went, oddly, the only time I’d really get them was if I was was seeing friends. I think the rush of endorphins when getting together and catching up would trigger them.
In March I finished chemo, and by May (ish) I noticed that the hot flashes had stopped. That's not necessarily a bad thing, however, I took it upon myself to get my hormone levels tested, and lo and behold, my estradiol (an estrogen steroid hormone) count was off the chart!! And that's a big concern for me, given that my cancer is hormone driven.
So on July 2nd I started a new drug protocol that would shut my ovaries down, and in turn (we hope) lower my estrogen levels quite drastically. You can read more about all of that in my last blog post (here).
Anyways, within about ten days, the hot flashes started to return - which I'm hoping is a sign that my levels are dropping. I'll find that out for sure on Friday, when I go for my three month blood labs and follow up with Dr W (my oncologist).
The hot flashes this time around are kinda different though. Not hugely, but different nonetheless.
With the first go around, the flushes would start at my feet and work it's way up my body. With these new ones, it comes on pretty quick, but only from my belly up to my head. My neck still gets super clammy, but I also get a sweat moustache now, which is a nice little addition. And while they seem to last a little longer, I think round two is a little less intense on the heat scale, so far - "so far" being the operative word.
And thankfully, I don't seem to have the emotions and mood swings that often go along with all of this (at least I don't think I do) - which EVERYONE can be extremely thankful for!!
Obviously, even with the manageability of it all, it still sucks. HOWEVER, as sucky as it is, I'm also so intrigued by all of it. And the shit that I'm learning just blows my mind. I mean it's crazy what our bodies can do, and can handle, and more importantly, can heal from!
And whoever would have thought, that at 43 years old, I'd be hoping for menopause and hot flashes!!