Breast Cancer

Menopause and the Inferno of Hot Flashes

Hot FlashSweet mother of pearl… The hot flashes. At some point, I may completely burst into flames. Poof! There goes Shannon. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Chemotherapy sent my body flying into early menopause within three weeks of starting treatment. It’s called treatment related menopause. It happens because chemo destroys rapidly dividing cells. And your ovaries just so happen to contain rapidly dividing cells which produce eggs. So chemo can be harmful to your ovaries. Depending on your age and the type of chemotherapy that you receive, your ovaries may or may not recover. And there is no test or way to predict if your ovaries will recover and your period return.

At this point, I’m hoping it stays away and I’m officially going through menopause. If my period comes back, well rock on. But then it would be like winning the menopause lottery and I’ll get to go through it twice. Fun, right?

I had a conversation with my ovaries and was like, look, let’s do this once, m’kay? I’ve been having hot flashes since the middle of last December. And they haven’t let up, not yet at least.

And I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of mood swings.

Okay, maybe I can. The hubs for sure can. I was telling him the other day how just a few weeks ago, I was thinking to myself, “Hmm, I just don’t think I’ve had any menopausal mood swings. It’s all just been hot flashes.” I wish you could have seen his reaction to that statement. Something along the lines of giant eyes full of complete disbelief, accompanied by a rather loud laugh and he quickly exited the room.

Alright, so maybe last Tuesday I could have chewed through the walls. And I am now realizing that ALL of the anti-anxiety medicine I was taking during treatment may have curbed the mood swings a bit. Now that I’m all medicine free, the mood swings apparently opened the front door and made themselves at home. Right beside the hot flashes. Isn’t that sweet. It’s like having one bad day of PMS while catching on fire about 10 times during said day.

This quote below from www.breastcancer.org pretty well sums it up…

“Menopause on top of a breast cancer diagnosis can be more than a major disruption. It can wreck your sex life, dash hopes of having a baby, trigger mood swings, produce debilitating hot flashes, cause weight gain, drain your energy, worsen aches and pains, bring on jealousy or anger or resentment, and leave you feeling bad about yourself. You may find it’s these menopausal changes, not the breast cancer or immediate effects of treatment, that interfere most with your quality of life.”
— Marisa Weiss, M.D., Breastcancer.org president and founder, breast radiation oncologist

Yep. Minus the “dash hopes of having a baby”. For many it does, but not for us. We decided eight years ago that we were done having kids. And honestly, after going through this, the thought of having another baby makes me feel panicky and start to sweat. Or maybe that’s another hot flash starting…

So, menopause, I welcome thee. But let’s just hurry up and get it over with. My poor family is going to freeze if I keep bumping down the temperature on the thermostat. Even the dog is cold.

Having my own personal summer,
Shannon

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1 Comment

  • Reply Gail July 25, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Shannon, I feel your hot flash pain, but just want to warn you the flashes may linger awhile. I’m probably in my 7th year now—while on hormone replacement therapy. Bummer.

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