A word about menopause

If you’re a guy, you might not want to read this because it’s, well, about menopause. If you’re a gal who’s not yet experienced the joys of menopause, you might not want to read this because it will scare you. A lot. If you’re brave enough to venture forth, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Because my cancer was fed by estrogen, after we got rid of the cancer we also had to remove its fuel source, to discourage it from coming back. Hence the stoppage of estrogen. The most direct way to stop the estrogen is to remove one’s ovaries in a lovely procedure called oovectomy (which would also be a seriously high-scoring Scrabble word). If you’re still fighting a wily infection, like me, being cut open in a hospital of all places is a pretty risky move. Especially since the hospital seems the most likely culprit in the age-old question of “How the Hell Do You Even Get an Infection Like That?” While it’s unlikely that my infection would travel from the chest wall to the nether-regions,  that’s a chance I don’t want to take, and frankly the idea of another hospital stay gives me the vapors.

Since I’m not ready for the oovectomy, I get the next-best option of hormone suppression, which is a shot of Lupron every 3 months, and a daily dose of Tamoxifen, which is a SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulator) drug. The latter half of that acronym makes me think of  something coming out of the Johnson Space Center instead of a prescription bottle from Walgreens, and talk about some great Scrabble words. Build one of those on a triple word spot and you’re damn close to world domination.

So I’m going along in my cancer journey, minding my own business, doing all the things I’m supposed to do, no matter how unpleasant, and yes it’s really good news that the cancer is gone and the infection is on its last legs, too, but do I really have to deal with menopause, too? That just seems mean. You’re seriously going to tell me that battling both cancer and a nasty infection doesn’t exempt one from the hell of menopause? Mean.

I foolishly thought I’d have another decade before having to face the evil triumvirate of menopause: hot flashes, age spots, and weight gain.  Even more foolish was the idea that, compared to cancer, menopause would be easy. Silly me.

Living in Houston, land of eternal summer, during hot-flash season, is a challenge. Come to think of it, neither Houston nor hot flashes have a season, so it’s game on, all the time. Local ladies, if you have any remedies for this please pass them on. I have yet to come across a mobile AC unit. I’d be waiting on the doorstep of Radio Shack to purchase said item and would wear it proudly, if only it existed.

So as I’m mopping my sweaty brow after one particularly potent hot flash, I notice some brown spots on my face. Little specs, bigger than freckles but not as big as liver spots. I tried to pick one off, wipe it away, flick it somewhere, anywhere, to no avail. These babies are staying. There’s a constellation near my left eye, and a nice fat one on the inside corner of my right eye. There’s a trio on my forehead, a few singles lingering on my jawline, and God knows where else that I’ve been too busy fighing cancer to really notice up close. Thank you to all my friends for not pointing them out to me. I know you’ve noticed, but were too charitable to tell me I was growing a connect-the-dot game on my face. And there’s a travel version of this game growing on my hands. I’m aging quite visibly as we speak. Thanks, cancer. You bastard.

While the hot flashes are unpleasant and age spots are depressing, the weight gain is really making me mad. I hope there is a special corner of Hell for whoever came up with the hair-brained idea that women will not only lose their breasts but also face scary treatments, complications and all manner of pain & suffering and then gain weight too? That is one messed up system.


10 Comments on “A word about menopause”

  1. Trevor Hicks says:

    You’re still a smokin’ hot mama

  2. Ed says:

    Well that sucks. Or should I offer some sappy platitudes about silver linings or windows opening when doors are closed? Screw that! I have nothing positive to say about cancer or its treatment except that I will lend a hand in any way I can. Fight on.

  3. Amy says:

    well, I think you are looking good and with your sassy self you will cruise on by… with a fan in your hand:) Eric can work on that portable:)

  4. Amanda says:

    hey. This does suck. But sounds like you have a great support team at home and I know they love you hot flashes and all:)

  5. Christy says:

    Thankfully, the hot flashes pass and I can promise you that Dr. S can take care of those brown spots for you!!!

  6. Amy H. says:

    Blog question: How do you sign up to get an email when you update?

    Regarding your post. How else are you going to grow those new breastacles if Dr. S. said you didn’t have enough material to work with. Let’s just say the weight will get repositioned eventually…right??? right???

    Age spots. mage spots. I didn’t see anything on your face last week! I guess I was too focused on laughing and chitchatting and just don’t give a rip! I like you just the way you are!

    Oh wait, I think my first question is answered. There’s a box to check down here before I post my comment!!

  7. C HOGG says:

    Glad I had your blog! I went through diagnosis, bilateral mastectomy, reconstruction, chemo, etc in 2008 at 37. Now I am 40 and taking medication to keep me in chemical induced menopause. I am with you………… there are alot of things that suck about it and now I am 30 pounds over weight and it wont budge. It doesn’t matter how much I exercise, reduce calories, etc. which is 100% frustrating. Your post made me laugh! Thank you! It was nice to hear from someone that feels the same way!

  8. […] recurrences, it can monkey with one’s hormones. I’ve written about this very topic. More than once. I feel pretty qualified to complain about the side effects of tamoxifen, even though I know […]

  9. […] was the recitation of the everyday meds post-cancer: tamoxifen to prevent recurrence, Effexor for menopause symptoms, levothyroxine for sluggish thyroid, and Ambien to help my worried mind shut down and get […]

  10. […] Brown spots on my face: I’m aging at a quick clip. Not pretty on a banana, not pretty on me.  […]


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