Before my breast cancer year, and before I found out I carry the BRCA-1 mutation, I was terribly worried about menopause. Admittedly it did not take up my every waking thought, or really any space in my daily thoughts...but when the idea crossed my mind I thought I should be terribly worried about it. My hormones have taken me on quite an emotional roller coaster over the course of my life...and I was thinking that menopause was going to be the mother of all emotional roller coasters. I was hoping to survive it without harming myself!
Of course, then I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the BRCA-1 mutation, and my constant hormonal battles seemed to be the least of my worries. And crazily enough, hormones had nothing to do with my breast cancer (triple negative tumor - estrogen and progesterone receptor negative...and I almost wished they HAD caused my tumor because triple negative tumors are a little scarier. You can't use any biological therapies like Tamoxifen or Herceptin, etc.). Though hormones had caused me much misery, they had not caused me THIS misery. Now I was dealing with breast cancer and any other cancer my mutation might bring my way...and doing everything I could to extend my chances of living longer became my biggest concern. I chose surgical menopause in a heartbeat (oophorectomy), choosing something that for me, might be even harder than breast cancer. I think I have mentioned before that breast cancer is scary, but my mood battles can be worse!
Well, I know that most of my friends and acquaintances will not be encountering menopause for about 15 years or so (!)...but I thought I should tell anyone reading this that it has not been the demon I expected it to be. My marriage is not on the rocks. I'm not going through a mid-life crisis. I'm not suicidal with the mood swings. I'm not gaining weight at an alarming rate. The hot flashes are not bothersome. Even the insomnia is not killing me (major sleeper that I am). And this is with surgical menopause, which apparently can cause more severe menopausal symptoms than natural menopause.
I'm not saying that I have NO symptoms of menopause - because I do have them. Bill doesn't think I am any more crazy than I normally am, though (I sometimes remind him that I am menopausal, just to get credit for the fact that I am so emotionally stable and not losing my shit all over the place!). My hot flashes are easier than they were when I first got them, nursing my babies. They wake me up, but a quick stop outside in chilly weather and I am ready to hop back into bed. And I have found something that helps EVERYTHING - Yoga.
I tried Yoga to loosen me up (gardening season - I normally am sore for the first month!), and came out of the first class feeling like I was on drugs, I was so relaxed. The next few classes left me feeling the same way. Yesterday I checked a book out of the library, hoping that I could bring some of this good stuff home with me...and found there's been a long history of treating menopause with Yoga. It only affirmed what I already felt - that downward-facing dog (and yoga in general) is like magic, especially for menopausal Pam.
So pals, if you see my children running around wild and me just smiling contentedly, you won't need to wonder, "How can this woman in the throes of crazy menopause be so relaxed?". I must have been spending some time upside down with the other wise souls in a yoga class. Or, like today, just spending some time in downward-facing-dog while the kids played on the playground at the school. Yes, the teenager walking his dog was laughing at me for talking to him while in such a strange position, but I was under the influence of Yoga so I didn't mind.