PART TWO: Cancer – Chemo Induced Menopause
By Lainie Parker
The whole cancer journey is crap, but what I really wanted to talk about is chemo induced menopause.
For most women, the journey into peri menopause occurs slowly over time as the oestrogen levels produced within the ovaries gradually decrease. The average age this occurs is 50 years (though can be earlier) and the length of time that women experience peri-menopause is approximately 2 years.
When you have AC chemo, you are quickly plunged into full blown menopause. There is nothing gradual about it. You can go from having fully functional ovaries and a regular menstrual cycle to nothing in a matter of weeks.
Chemo killed off my ovaries. Good bye oestrogen! Perfect for starving my ever-hungry cancer, but terrible for my life in general. Who knew that oestrogen was so important?!? I certainly didn’t.
Oestrogen’s role in the body:
- Body temperature control
- Anti-depressant effects
- Bone mineral density
- Assists libido, memory and brain function
- Prevents atherosclerosis (heart)
- Maintains muscle strength
All of a sudden, I couldn’t sleep properly at night, I was waking every hour or so having “hot flashes”. Whoever coined this term is an idiot. The reality is that they are raging, red, sweaty infernos, that have you stripping off multiple layers of clothing or blankets. The resultant sleep deprivation obviously makes you tired and flat, which leads you to search for ‘quick fix’ energy solutions…craving sugary foods that you’ve never really wanted before!
My body shape started to drastically change. I put on about 8 kg in 4 months and my body turned into a pear-shaped squishy blob. Before my eyes, it seemed that it was getting fatter and less toned. When this happens, you feel like crap and resort to eating more…it really is a destructive cycle.
I started getting aching within my foot and ankle joints, and pain in the front of the knee when I would squat or go down stairs.
But now that I have finished my chemo and surgery, that is all about to change.
We know the benefits of exercise for the general population. But in cancer, there is great evidence for exercise! It reduces the risk of the cancer returning by 20-30%. It turns out, that it partially counteracts almost all of the oestrogen deficits that the chemo induced menopause causes.
- Positive endorphin release which improves mood
- Improved sleep
- Improved energy, decreases fatigue
- Improved sex life by improving energy, self-confidence, sexual arousal
- Improved cardiac function
- Lowers blood sugars
- Reduced joint pain (osteoarthritis)
I will be working with my colleague, Angelo Catalano (Exercise Physiologist), over a 12-week period twice weekly to meet my health goals.
If I can get 100 likes, I will make this journey a public one and share it with you (including photos!) via the Total Physiocare socials. Check us out on Instagram @totalphysiocare and @totalcareau, plus Facebook at Total Physiocare Group and TotalCare – Brunswick and show your support by liking our posts!
I look forward to seeing you all in the clinic and sharing this journey with you. And if anyone is interested in getting their life back with me, then I’d love to do this process with you. Stay tuned for details of my “Menopause can get stuffed” class details.