Breast cancer and the menopause


[Cat purring] My name is Diane, I’m 46 years old and I was
diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2009. When my oncologist talked to me about the
chemotherapy, she made it clear to me that there was a big possibility that I would
go into the menopause as a result of the treatment. She was very clear that she didn’t know whether
this would be a permanent or a temporary thing. But in my case, I was put into the menopause
and my periods never returned. I have three sons, who are now 17, 15 and
12. At the time of my diagnosis my surgeon asked
me if I was considering having any more children. I think I’ve probably got enough. At 44 I
was quite happy not to have any more children, but I think it’s very important that women
realise that it could be an option. When you’re going through treatment for breast
cancer you go through a range of emotions. You can become angry, very sad, I would quite
happily cry at the smallest thing, and in fact still can.
But it’s very difficult to know whether it is the menopause or whether it was my treatment.
The worst symptoms that I’ve experienced are hot flushes.
It’s like feeling a sudden rush of heat, and it can come on at any time.
It’s actually quite difficult and your inclination is to literally throw everything off or open
windows. But it doesn’t last very long and it almost
goes as quickly as it started. The menopause can cause a lot of problems
for women sexually. I think it’s a difficult subject for many
people to talk about and you may not wish to raise it yourself.
I was lucky that my surgeon raised it with me, and so it took the edge off it. Even though
I was rather suprised that he did. I was made aware that there was lots of help
out there. I think it’s very important that all women can access this help.
And it can really change your life and you shouldn’t be frightened to ask.
When the menopause happened I wasn’t really focussing on it
because it seemed to be a very little part of what I was going through and it didn’t
really bother me unduly. I was more concentrating on getting to the
end of my treatment and being told that everything was alright.
I’m now 18 months from diagnosis and I’m very happy to say that everything’s fine. Macmillan have been a big part of my life
for a very long time. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer
when she was 50 and I was lucky enough to move my mother into a Macmillan unit.
When my breast care nurse suggested to me that I access Macmillan
I was rather suprised and also rather concerned because I thought my diagnosis had changed.
I was very relieved to find out that it hadn’t and that Macmillan are there for all cancer
patients, at whatever stage of their illness. The other thing that was suggested to me was
if I wanted any counselling. Quite often you find that when you’re having
your treatment you’re very focused, very driven, and your
mind is completely on getting better. It’s only after the treatment is finished
that you feel, all of a sudden, that you’ve perhaps got some space to think back and perhaps
that’s when it hits you. I found that Macmillan were very helpful for
me because they were still there for me, even when treatment had finished.
I’m not entirely sure your life ever goes back to normal, the normal that you knew before.
The treatment is all-consuming. It becomes your life.
But I think you have to take some positives out of it.
The whole thing has made me stronger, given me a different perspective on life,
and I’m very pleased to be able to do this video and maybe help other women in the same
situation as myself. [Announcer] For information, help, or if
you just want to chat, call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, or visit macmillan.org.uk

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