The importance of speaking up for yourself

Today I had my 18 month post-hysterectomy cancer check up! Everything is all okay and I’m doing great.

I have noticed in recent weeks a few things that with my appointment coming today I decided to ask about. I realised I’d stopped having any PMS symptoms, which was the only way I could track my hormonal cycles now that I’m not menstruating. I also noticed I’ve been really hot in the office at work, so much so that I now have two fans at my desk! Yet everyone around me is always freezing. I realised that these could potentially be signs of menopause, so I mentioned it today.

And I’m really glad I did. He started asking questions straight away, about how long I’d noticed it and my age and decided then and there I’d get blood taken today to do a hormone profile to see what my levels are like.

Because I’m younger than the average age for menopause, it’s potentially a health risk if I go through it now, and one of the main reasons he decided to keep my ovaries. It’s not unheard of to go through this post-hysterectomy either, so I’m not concerned and neither is he. We just need to find out where I am.

He explained that he was glad I came to him because, while I should go to my GP about it, they wouldn’t do anything for me! Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a no-no according to GPs if you’ve had a gynaecological cancer. Even when the associated risk is the recurrence of endometrial cancer which I can’t have because, hey guess what? I don’t have a uterus anymore! So I don’t have any risk of recurrence.

And while it’s possible my hormones are okay for now, at least we know to keep an eye on it going forward and when the time comes where my ovaries do stop doing their job we’ll know and my consultant can speak to the oncologist and endocrinologist to work out the best way for me to deal with it, HRT or something else.

I’m really glad I spoke up. It’s really important to do so, and it’s equally important to have a doctor that you feel comfortable talking to and even better if you know they will put your best interests and health first. I’ve trusted my consultant from the start, when he decided to push my case to another cancer board so I would have more treatment options just based on the knowledge that we had been trying to conceive. I’d already decided that’s what I wanted, but before getting a chance to tell him that he’d offered it as a choice and I’m really grateful to have someone like that on my side while I go through all of this.

If you’re not comfortable talking to your doctor, get a new one and find someone you can speak to, someone that will advocate for you and make you a priority! Nothing is more important than making sure you’re taking care of yourself and finding people who will help not hinder you is a big step.