When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer I was told that same day that an offer of preserving my fertility (egg freezing) would be presented to me due to my age, because my periods would stop, and they couldn’t be certain that they would return, if they did there was a high chance I would find it hard to conceive naturally.
Although I knew for certain I wanted children in the future, after careful thought when the opportunity presented itself to me, I decided not to go ahead with the treatment. The two main reasons for this was 1- I wasn’t in the right frame of mind at the time to even think clearly about what I was getting myself into and 2- I would be at the mercy of the waiting lists and times of the fertility clinic before any chemo could start- so serious delays to curing my cancer were on the cards and as my tumour was already growing at a rapid rate, I declined the offer. My oncologist agreed it was the right thing to do.
As expected after chemo number 1, my periods stopped, and I went into what they call a chemical induced menopause, which was as horrendous as it sounds, at the top of the list of the awful side effects was hot flushes!! Prior to this experience, I had heard from many ladies who were going or had gone through the menopause- that hot flushes topped their list too. As my treatment developed and I met other ladies on the chemo ward I soon found out hot flushes were literally the bane of all lives- sometimes they were mild, sometimes they left me drenched in sweat- but the worst always came for
me at night and these seemed to be the most intense- covers on, covers off, clothes on, clothes off. I started my treatment in winter and I wore clothes as if it was summer just so I could be cool enough if one started, in all cases almost directly after a hot flush- came a cold flush so I also had to carry around extra cardigans/ jumpers in preparation for this- (a tip to anyone going through the same thing is to keep a hand-held fan in your bag)- I often cried in frustration at them. The most frustrating thing for me out of all this was that they couldn’t tell me if these effects were going to stop or if my periods were going to return- they didn’t have a clue and it was frustrating and scary. When I looked into what caused the hot flushes I found out it was the damage chemo caused to the ovaries- so they needed to repair themselves before my period would return and the hot flushes stopped this could take anything from 6months onwards after chemo stopped. If that wasn’t a hard pill to swallow I was also told if they did return and I wanted to start a family I would have to waste no time because breast cancer patients who have gone through chemo do tend to start their menopause early. Once again I felt inhumane, like an alien- I often asked- why me? And admittedly had thoughts of whether this was my karma for me not settling down years before when I was given the chance and by the time chemo 3 came- my confidence had hit an all-time low.
Featured Pic: Top left: Another Chemo down Top right: Me having a cheeky glass of wine Bottom left: Me with my lil cheeky companion on a sick day Bottom right: My new order of hats to complement the baldy!