search
date/time
Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
frontpagebusinessartscarslifestylefamilytravelsportsscitechnaturefictionCartoons
Ian Garner
Business Writer
12:03 AM 4th May 2024
lifestyle

“I Didn’t Realise The Menopause Would Be Harder Than My Cancer Treatment.”

 
The quote in the headline comes from Alice, 41, who received a breast cancer diagnosis at age 35.

Alice went on to say, “The menopause for me was harder than the cancer; it was too much. I wanted to be out of my body. Even though I was over cancer, the menopause made me feel like I was broken again.”

Some cancer treatments can cause early menopause or side effects that are similar to menopausal symptoms.

Menopause Myth Busting

Myth: I’ve already had a natural menopause so cancer treatment can’t send me into another one.
Fact: Medically induced menopause can happen again at any age, even if you’ve had a natural menopause
Myth: Menopause can only happen if I've had a gynaecological or breast cancer
Fact: Any cancer treatment can cause a medically induced menopause
Myth: Once I go into early menopause my chances of having children are gone
Fact: Some people on select cancer treatments find their periods return once treatment has finished
Myth: My sex life has finished once I go into the menopause
Fact: There are a lot of tools and support on offer to help you get back to having a healthy sex life
Myth: I’m not allowed to take HRT for my medically induced menopause
Fact: Some cancer treatments do allow people to take HRT to alleviate symptoms of menopause.
Menopause can happen naturally, but different cancer treatments, for example, chemotherapy, surgery to remove both ovaries, radiotherapy to the pelvis, or hormone therapy, can cause early menopause. Some women have already gone through menopause, but their treatment can cause similar symptoms.

Many women, especially young women diagnosed with cancer, aren't prepared for the life-altering effects of menopause that their treatment brings up.

Nearly a third of people who experience early-onset menopause due to cancer treatment find menopause shocking.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of those who received a cancer diagnosis received little to no information about early-onset menopause, according to a survey of attendees of the Maggie's Cancer Centre Menopause Workshops. Over half (54%) said that the information they received was just a conversation with a healthcare professional, but 78% said they would have preferred more than one form of information.

Menopause symptoms can affect different areas of women’s daily lives, including their relationships, social life, work, and physical and mental wellbeing.

It can be a harrowing experience for women on top of their cancer diagnosis. Women who experience fertility loss and a variety of debilitating side effects find it highly traumatic. It is crucial to shine a spotlight on these issues and make sure that information is more clearly available.

Maggie’s Yorkshire is a warm, welcoming place in the grounds of St James’s Hospital in Leeds where people with cancer and their families and friends can meet others who are experiencing the same thing as them, find support groups specific to their needs, and get advice and information from the expert staff.

A ‘Menopause after Cancer' event 
(L-R)Lisa Punt, Dr Angela Wright, Helen Nicholson, Dani Binnington and Amanda Procter.
A ‘Menopause after Cancer' event (L-R)Lisa Punt, Dr Angela Wright, Helen Nicholson, Dani Binnington and Amanda Procter.
All 24 Maggie’s centres in the UK run menopause workshops or offer similar support individually. These sessions, “How to manage menopause after cancer,” are an in-person immersion in all things menopause after cancer. There’s expert advice, movement motivation, and nutrition advice.

A ‘Menopause after Cancer’ event took place at Maggie's Yorkshire in March this year. The event was hosted in collaboration with Menopause and Cancer, an organisation that supports those affected by cancer treatment-induced menopause.

Maggie’s have centres across the UK, including Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Oldham, and the Wirral. Details about Maggie’s and their services can be found on https://www.maggies.org/

Ian Garner
Ian Garner
Ian Garner is a retired Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (FCMI) and the Institute of Directors (FIoD).

Ian is a board member of Maggie’s Yorkshire. Maggie’s provides emotional and practical cancer support and information in centres across the UK and online, with their centre in Leeds based at St James’s Hospital.

He is the founder and director of Practical Solutions Management, a strategic consulting practice, and is skilled in developing strategy and providing strategic direction, specialising in business growth and leadership.