Tag Archives: Menopause

My Cancer Story: White Pants and Worry

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White Pants Up Close

Brace yourself for some TMI.

On a recent trip to Dallas that featured several mother-daughter shopping outings, Laura pulled white pants from the rack. “I bet these would look good on you,” she said. “They can be dressy or casual and are great for summer.”

I tried the pants on. Laura nodded her approval. Next came the underwear discussion. My child is a  pro on what to wear under white pants. I found it difficult, though, to plunk out a chunk of change for two inches of fabric.

But that’s not the TMI part of this post. This is:

“We can wear white pants without worry!” menopause types like to say, honoring the fact that periods are over. But blood, and the fear of blood, means something different to me now. Blood, several years into menopause, was the red siren that launched my journey into endometrial cancer. (Please don’t panic if you see blood. There’s only a one in eight chance it’s cancer, but DO see your doctor.) In my case, the blood was bad blood.

My surgery and recovery went well, and as Cliff reminds me if I get mopey, my prognosis is quite good. Yet I live daily, (actually many times a day) in fear that I will discover blood. Every bathroom trip, every change of clothes, brings on the possibility. Cliff’s suggestion is not to look each time. I’m trying that and am having some success; however, habits are hard to break. For now, the NOT looking reminds me there’s something scary I could be looking for.

To those of you who are cancer survivors: how do you deal with the fear it will return? Any tips?

And thanks to Laura for suggesting I buy white pants. Hate cancer! Love my new pants!

white pants

Cancer recurrence: I found this article on Cancer.net. I had a light bulb moment when I read the heading: “Accept your fears.” I was able to accept the cancer, especially since the prognosis is good. I never really wondered why me? Stuff happens. Instead of trying to figure out how to banish all fear, maybe I can have an easier time if I accept it like I did the cancer. Worth a try!

Grumpy Old Menopause: A Giveaway!

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portraitCarolEWyer6-(ZF-7979-29994-1-002)

A post by writer Carol E. Wyer:

A trip to buy boots became the catalyst for Grumpy Old Menopause. It was one January and while waiting for the young assistant to find the right sized boot, I suddenly had one of those moments…you know the one where a wave of heat starts at your feet, mounts your body and makes you want to peel off your very skin to get cool. I grabbed at my coat, yanked it and my scarf off, and my cardigan and attempted to fan myself with a receipt from a supermarket. The manageress looked over and nodded wisely.

“I know what you’re going through,” she said in hushed tones, checking to see if anyone else could hear. She proceeded to tell me about a similar incident that had occurred for her. Out to dinner with friends, she had felt a hot flash and yanked off her jumper only to be greeted by astonished stares form her fellow dinner companions. She had inadvertently removed her blouse as well and was now sitting in only a bra.

That lead me on to tell her about how I had woken up one morning to discover the hairs in my left eyebrow had gone…well, actually they’d migrated…to my upper lip. We chuckled, more stories followed and we guffawed like two teenagers, even more so when we were greeted with astonished stares from the assistant who finally emerged from the stock room with my boots.

“You wait,” said the manageress. “One day, you’ll have all this to come!”

Well, once I’d left the store feeling a lot better about myself, I had a nugget of an idea…what if I could write a book that made people laugh about a subject that is still mostly taboo and help women going through the menopause?

Grumpy Old Menopause takes its information from health experts, doctors and friends and personal experience. I trawled the internet for months looking for advice and articles (and stumbled upon Barbara’s wonderful menopausal plate article) about symptoms. I spoke to surgeons, gynaecologists, acupuncturists, alternative health specialists and many more, amassing material that would help. The whole book though, is supposed to be as close as you can get to sitting down with a friend and laughing at the tricks Nature is about to play on you. Laughter is your biggest weapon in your arsenal and if you are prepared for the menopause and can maintain a sense of humour, you will sail through it. I have…well, apart from the panic attacks, the insomnia, frozen shoulder and the hot flashes! In seriousness, there is a lot you can do about all of that as long as you have information and that’s what I hope to provide.

One thing I have learned as I have got older is that laughter is a real cure-all. If you can have a good giggle you get a healthy workout, you raise feel-good hormones and you feel heaps better.

The menopause is however, a serious subject and please don’t think I am glib about the problems and challenges that face many women at this time of their lives. I spoke to some ladies who went through early onset of menopause and had horrific symptoms so I am mindful of the passage some have to travel. I hope merely to inform, assist and support. I hope a few hours with book will at least bring a smile to your face and make you realise you are not alone.

I have the book and my philosophy about laughter to thank for my latest career move…taking my own advice, I took up one of the many hobbies and suggestions I make in the book—stand-up comedy! (I couldn’t do pole dancing as I had frozen shoulder!) Yes, I now tour the UK with a comedy set entitled Smile While You Still Have Teeth. Whoever would have thought going through the menopause could be so much fun?

GOM High Resolution Cover

Giveaway: Grumpy Old Menopause has sold thousands of copies and been featured on over fifty radio shows, in magazines and on BBC Breakfast television. Carol is holding her award for winning the People’s Book Prize just a few months ago. For a chance to win a copy, please enter a comment by September 1.

Watch Carol accept The People’s Book Prize award for Non-fiction on Youtube. Listen to some of Carol’s stand up entry for The BBC New Comedy Talent Award here.

Carol E. Wyer wants to live in a world where gummy bears do not rot your teeth and everyone laughs at least fifty times a day. As a humorous writer and blogger, she’s been featured in and written for Womans’ Own, Yours, Choice, and Woman’s Weekly magazines, the Huffington Post and been interviewed on numerous BBC radio shows, NBC and Sky television and BBC Breakfast television. When she’s not hiding in her garret writing books and articles, you can find her quaking in the wings, waiting to perfom her stand up show, Smile While You Still Have Teeth or being a Loud Mouth on BBC Radio Derby.

Her books all encourage us “older folk” to enjoy life, carpe diem and laugh. Her most recently-released book — Grumpies On Board — hit the shelves in June and has attracted a lot of attention from the travel industry and means she and Mr Grumpy will have to take more holidays soon. Discover more at  carolewyer.co.uk/ grumpyoldmenopause.com , or facing50withhumour.com

Some TMI with a Happy Ending

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A few week ago, my friend Miriam Hendeles wrote me about her episode of spotting. I asked her to tell us her happy ending. I wanted to post a contrasting ending to my story of endometrial cancer. Take it away, Miriam, and thanks!

So some background. I’m a worrier. I constantly worry about this and that. Health. Relationships. Finances. World politics. You name it. Because of my worry, I sometimes hover over my adult kids. Most times I don’t, so that’s good.

Helicopter

That’s me hovering. See? (only sometimes!)

Anyway, regarding the regular worries: Whether it’s a concern about a relapse of my past foot problems, or anxiety about one of my sons not being reachable across the country for about an hour more than expected, or something random going on with one of my grandchildren, or something I think I said wrong to someone, I worry.

And when I worry, I vent to my husband (and my friend(s) and my mother and my sisters)  about my concerns.

My husband (and sometimes the others) listens to my rationale for the worry, and tells me all his reasons why I have no need to worry.   But I don’t believe him. He tries to convince me — when it’s a health related worry – that I should let the “poor doctor do his job and worry.” But I still don’t listen. He even uses humor and teases me about it but aside from getting me to chuckle, it doesn’t work.

He reminds me to have faith and be positive. He’s right.

Screaming Woman

Yes, it can get pretty intense, I admit. I need to chill. I guess I have a lot of room for growth in the faith department. I need to work on that. Which is what this post is about.

Last week, I had cause to worry about something regarding my health.

For the past several years, since entering middle age,  my body has been transitioning.  This time of transitioning, known as Menopause, is supposed to be a Biggie. For me, it hasn’t been much of a big deal. I have had none of the horror experiences that others (including my mother when she was my age) had such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Yes, I’ve been kind of moody and anxious. But aren’t I always? (see above intro to this post). Yes, I’ve kind of sort of been having sleep issues. But that could be attributed to my drinking tons of water during the day so of course I get up myriad times during the night. And I always (mostly) fall asleep. Right?

So based on my doctor’s assessment all these years (again, I lost count), I’m slowly and gradually transitioning into menopause. Whatever that means, because as I just explained, I have none of the real symptoms.

None of  bad and horrible menopausal symptoms that all of the blogs that I read talk about.

So back to what happened last week.

I found blood. A drop. A bit. A really itty bitty amount. But still it was blood. And I was scared. I knew the rule that if you find blood “post” menopause, it’s “cause for concern.” Doesn’t mean it’s bad. Doesn’t mean it’s cancer G-d forbid. But it has to be checked.

So I did the responsible thing and went to see my doctor. And yes, I worried before the appointment and even while seeing him.

He didn’t seem concerned, but took a blood test to determine where I was in menopause. And told me his hypothesis of why I was bleeding and that he wasn’t concerned.

But me being, well,  me, I still worried.  After taking the blood test, I went to my car and called my husband and basically told him that I don’t believe my doctor. That he’s just placating me.

Looking back and typing this, I’m realizing how neurotic the behavior was, but since I have decided to tell you this entire (TMI) story, I will.

So I went home, and waited for the doc to call me the next day, which he did. I was driving into my office at work, (funny the things we remember) when my cell phone rang. It was my doctor, telling me that I’ve got “lots of estrogen floating around” in my uterus, which in layman’s language means I’m in Peri-menopause. Surprise. Surprise. He then told me that he was even less concerned because once one has estrogen, then bleeding is more common.

Ahh. Got it. He told me to come back the following week, after the July 4th weekend and he’d do an ultrasound. He put me through to the secretary, Janet (yeah, we’re on first name basis these days) who gave me an appointment for the following Tuesday.

All I could think of was how in the world would I survive the five day wait till the appointment?!?

I googled everything to do with my situation and then called my husband, declaring all kinds of morbid thoughts aloud to him.

I was nervous. I googled some more and more and more.

Did you know that these days according to Google, we all are dying? Well that’s the case with me. True story.

Anyway, I don’t know how I survived that day, Thursday. But I did. And Friday. Saturday. Sunday. Monday. Lots of prayer. Lots of ruminating of what if. Oh no. Nerves. On and on. More prayer.

I emailed and message my friend Barbara Younger, who has had a lot of experience with post-menopause stuff. She was very encouraging and kind.

Finally, Tuesday. I went to the doctor. He came in. Examined me. Did an ultrasound.

Thank G-d. “Miriam, you’re fine. No fibroids. No growths. All is well.” Deep breath!”

I thanked G-d for my health. But wondering: how I can avoid all that worry in the future? Most of the time (according to Barbara Younger, 7 out of 8 cases of post-menopausal bleeding are not the Big C….but still. We worry (speaking for myself here, huh?)

Fear

So Note to Self for future:

  1. a) put a limit or cap on how much to go onto Google. Maybe one time per day for 10 minutes (it’s too much to ask us nervous folks to avoid it altogether, I would think).
  2. b) call one friend to vent but make sure it’s a realistic  friend who won’t make you more nervous.
  3. c) keep busy for the time you are waiting for Heaven’s Sake!!
  4. d) have faith in G-d that He will take good care of you no matter what.
  5. e) don’t read commentaries and analyses into what the doctor says. Take him at face value. If he says you’re probably okay, then you will.
  6. f) always, always appreciate and take care of your health.
  7. g) Have faith…and oh! it may even help to try some music therapy!

Oh – one more thing I want to say: I hope all the above wasn’t too much TMI. Was it? (Just checking…)

Miriam

Miriam Hendeles, MT-BC is a mom of adult sons, grandmother of an adorable bunch of little boys and a music therapist who works in hospice care. During her spare time, Miriam blogs at Bubby Joys and Oys about the joys and oys (Yiddish for challenges) of being a Bubby and mother-in-law. Miriam also has a website for her posts about being a mother-in-law and some cool advice for struggling mothers-in-law. Miriam lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Hayim who is a terrific grandfather! (“Poppy!”)

bubby-joys

Mindfullness and Menopause

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Paula

A post by mindfulness instructor Paula Huffman:

As you may have noticed lately, the word mindfulness is getting tossed around a lot! Is there something to this concept of Mindfulness or is it just another trend? And, you might ask yourself, “What is Mindfulness? What does that mean?”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Pain Management program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center began developing what he called “Mindfulness programs” back in the early 70’s to help people with chronic pain. The methods were so successful that programs flourished and began to be used to help clients with all sorts of issues from chronic physical and mental illness to everyday stress! Now these programs are available world wide! Kabat- Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness involves a conscious direction of awareness. When practicing Mindfulness, we are making a conscious effort to remain aware of what is going on right now! We work on moving out of Auto Pilot and start to live life again!

Mindfulness wakes us up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments. It provides a simple but powerful route for getting ourselves unstuck and back in touch with our own wisdom and vitality. Through the Mindfulness practices, we can learn to identify stress triggers and stress indicators. We practice bringing awareness to thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations while they are happening. Learning the Mindfulness practices can help you to manage stress by allowing you to function from a calmer baseline, manage catastrophic thinking, and choose to respond skillfully to difficult events in your life.

Mindfulness is not a religious practice. Mindfulness classes are educational experiences and not group therapy. Through mindfulness classes you will learn practices such as Mindful Eating, Mindful Breathing, Seated Meditation with attention to the breath, Walking meditation, Mindful Movement, and Loving Kindness Meditation.

As with many concepts that become more popular, the pure essence of those concepts can become diluted. In some cases, the word mindfulness or mindful may be added to something so it will sound enticing and sometimes the concepts are not really being used or taught with a full intention or from a sound knowledge base. As Jon Kaba- Zinn developed his programs, he made sure to say that Mindfulness is taught to others from the experience on one’s own practice.

Practicing Mindfulness during the menopause years can help you learn to cope with and diminish many of the common health issues and discomforts such as weight gain, insomnia, fatigue, increased reactivity, mood swings, and more that are often related to this time of life. Learn how to cope with stress and other symptoms by using mindfulness practices such as Mindful Breathing, the Breathing Space to Step out of Auto Pilot, Seated Meditation, Mindful Movement, and Loving Kindness Meditation.. 

For those who live near Hillsborough, North Carolina, Paula is offering a series on menopause and mindfullness. Here’s the scoop:

Managing Menopause the Mindfulness Way 

Upcoming Introductory Series…

Menopause Symptoms Making you Feel a Little Wild?

WIld

6 Weeks starting May 13th

9-11 a.m.
$150 for the series

Location: Carolina Wellness Institute
121 W Margaret Lane  Hillsborough, NC

Register: info@carolinawellnessinstitute.com
919 260 0255

Practicing Mindfulness during the menopause years can help you learn to cope with and diminish many of the common health issues and discomforts related to this time of life.

Common symptoms associated with menopause might include:
– Weight Gain
– Sleep Issues
– Hot/Cold Flashes
– Fatigue
– Increased Blood Pressure
– Urinary Urgency and Incontinence
– Generalized Muscle Aches
– Increased Reactivity and Mood Swings

Want to learn how Mindfulness and other holistic practices can help? Each session will include:
• Presentation and group discussion on a Mindfulness theme related to menopause
• Stress management through identification of stress triggers and indicators, thought, emotion and physical sensation awareness.
• Learning how to step out of auto pilot and live your life!!
• Introduction and experience of Mindfulness Practices including Mindful Eating, Mindful Breathing, Seated Meditation with Attention to the Breath, Mindful Walking, Mindful Movement and Loving Kindness Meditation.
• Discussion on home practice and how things are going
• Bonus of topics related to the physiology behind the symptoms, complementary and alternative therapies including nutrition and herbal support, acupuncture and more.  These topics will be presented by licensed practitioners who provide women’s health services.

Facilitated by Paula Huffman BS, RN, ERYT, Mindfulness Instructor

Paula (in the photo at top) has been a Yoga and Meditation practitioner for close to 25 years. She is a Registered Nurse and certified Yoga Instructor. Paula completed studies in leading Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Pain Management programs with Jon Kabat Zinn and the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical Center on two separate occasions. She has been teaching Mindfulness classes for 6 years classes with the Program on Integrative Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. Please feel free to contact Paula for information or questions on these programs: info@carolinawellnessinstitute.com