My Cancer Story: The Estrogen Patch

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Confused Lady

(Continued from the last post)

A week later, I stepped into my gynecologist’s office. “Just having a bit of snack,” Dr. Fried said. “Have some.” He passed crackers and a jar of peanut butter across his desk.

I dipped the knife into the peanut butter and spread it on a cracker. I’d forgotten to eat breakfast. What luck to have a doctor with snacks!  Next, I thanked Dr. Fried for saving my life. Then we got to the purpose of the visit. “I think I’m experiencing gloom and crying jags from lack of estrogen.”

He shook his head and said that it’s unusual for a post-menopausal woman to have mood swings after a hysterectomy. Then he began to speak about cancer. My endometrial cancer. His colon cancer as a younger man. “Cancer changes you,” he said. “You worry about recurrence. Even though your prognosis is good, your thinking patterns are different now.”

I took in a mental breath and told myself not to tune him out. But as he spoke, it didn’t click that cancer was the cause of my low moods. Sure, I’m worried about recurrence. But my dark spells seemed too erratic, and they never focused on the cancer.

“Before the surgery, I felt like my body was still affected by estrogen,” I told him. “I’ve continued to have some breast pain and other PMS-like symptoms. I appreciate what you’re saying, but I think I’m suffering a second menopause emotionally.”

Dr. Fried believes estrogen is a good choice for many menopausal women, especially for the prevention of osteoporosis and dementia, so he was willing to have me try it. “We’ll start you on the estrogen patch then,” he said. “You’ll know in two weeks if it’s working.”

Yes! This might not be the solution, but it was the approach I wanted to try first.

“I’ll  speak with your oncologist,” he added, “to make sure she thinks estrogen is safe for you.”

He called a few days later with the okay from Dr. Gehrig.

Estrogen

The estrogen patch is easy to use. You peel it from the backing and stick it onto your abdomen. The patch gets changed every three to four days.

Patch

Amazingly, the patch survives showers and clothes rubbing against it. Even more amazing, within twenty-four hours, I was better, a lot better. I’ve got concerns about taking estrogen when I had an estrogen-fed cancer. For now, I’m bowing to the expertise of my oncologist, who says the studies bear out that it’s safe.

After Christmas, Cliff and I headed back to Bald Head Island and I visited that lovely ladies room. Best ladies room visit ever!

closed-door

Top Photo: I found this lady at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Dallas when I went to the annual conference of the North American Menopause Society. I’ve been saving her for just the right post. Since she’s covered with patches, this is the one!

33 responses »

  1. I always enjoy the artwork that you share with your posts. I also appreciate your vulnerability. It truly helps to have someone in my life that has gone before me. Menopause is no picnic, and estrogen. . . Don’t even get me started on estrogen. I miss MY body, and what it used to be able to do.

  2. My doc put me on the Minivelle patch when Menopause hit me like a ton of bricks. I would not trade it for anything! Glad to hear what your oncologist says about it too. Thank you Barbara!! Beth

  3. Hi Barbara, After my hysterectomy, I needed estrogen, too. I now use a prescription bioidentical hormone cream that I rub into my forearms twice per day. Seems to really help. I hope you’re feeling better, Barbara!!

  4. wow, not my experience at all. Family history of late menopause 56-58, I had a hysterectomy at 51, slammed into menopause – put on Minivelle, disagreed with me so I had a choice of hot flashes or queasy. After a trip to the ER (umbilical hernia) it was clear queasy could be gallstones (from the estrogen) which is rarely mentioned as a side effect. Ceased all Minivelle. I do not feel confident that anyone knows the long term effects of estrogen supplements.
    Oddly enough, someone here commented about Maca – so I got some, the burly guy at GNC was appalled and said men use it for libido!
    Two doses later I feel much better?

    • Yes. That’s my concern. It’s usually safer for women who have had hysterectomies but not so sure in my case with the cancer, despite what the doc said. I worry about side effects from progesterone though.

  5. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your journey; all the ups and downs and sideways, etc. etc. I’m so glad you are on top of your symptoms, and that you have such a good medical team. Keep us posted… and keep smiling! (Love the patches lady sculpture.)

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