I woke up this morning after another night of hot flashes and night sweats. Despite being told that these would be gone a few short weeks after chemotherapy completed, I am now ten weeks from my last treatment and they are as present as they were before. (worse in fact). You may ask what this may mean and let me explain….
The hot flashes and night sweats mean that I am still in what some say is “chemopause”. A sort of medically induced menopause that is caused by chemotherapy. As a pre-menopausal woman at only 27 years old, I was told that my ovaries should recover. Meaning they should wake back up and I should resume a normal menstrual cycle. However it appears that has yet to happen.
“It’s a difficult question to know whether someone’s menopause is temporary or permanent. For most women who get chemotherapy when they are less than 40 years old, they tend to get their periods back. There is data, however, that suggests women who get chemotherapy tend to go into an earlier menopause than they normally would. One of the ways that we can tell if someone is getting return of ovarian function is to do a blood test where we check someone’s estradiol level.” (Information found here)
I am starting to take a look at options on how to manage rather than remove the side affects since they do not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. I am monitoring what I eat, the amount of caffeine I have, spicy foods etc. to see what may make them occur more frequently. I must admit that at times they do not bother but when I am in a public setting undressing in what is obviously a air conditioned place I am embarrassed and would rather bow my head and cry.
I was aware of the risk to my fertility prior to chemotherapy but I would be lying if all of the warnings seemed so far away. I was given two types of chemotherapy and “cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) has the strongest chance of causing infertility.” (Information found here).
You may ask the question, so if I go into permanent menopause than can I not conceive children in the future?
Let me explain. It is true that if I am in permanent menopause all of my eggs are gone. I no longer have ovarian function. But you may remember that prior to starting chemotherapy I chose to go through the egg fertilization process. I have four eggs frozen. So I “can have frozen eggs or embryos implanted and carry a pregnancy.” You can read about that on my blog here.
I hope that this information does not come across as insensitive it is just this is very much the reality I live in. The things I have to deal with every day. But at some point I have simply stepped away and cannot worry over something I have no control over. Now I just simply embrace what is true and let the unknowns of the future be out in the future. I will meet back with the fertility doctor in six months to have a blood test drawn to see if I am in fact in permanent menopause or not.
As for me, my day to day these days is starting to fill with more work, still a lot of sleeping, resting and lots of undressing… 🙂 . I laugh every time someone gives me the tip for how to manage hot flashes by saying, “dress in layers”. I just want to say well yes of course, but how can I make THEM STOP.
Today has been a good day…. and it has barely started. I am starting to wonder over what this place will become in my journey to recover and heal. Also I will share an exciting event I am going to be apart of this Fall to raise money for Breast Cancer.
Thank you everyone for continuing to pray for me, think of me and be an incredible encouragement.
**Also I am in love with my nephew and I already miss him very much in Kentucky.