Chemotherapy’s Best-Kept Secret — Menopause

Chemotherapy’s Best-Kept Secret — Menopause
Menopause. Not the sexiest word in the English language. Thickening waists. Dry skin. Brain fog. Hair in places where you don’t want hair. Before starting chemotherapy as part of my breast cancer treatment, I had to sit through a one-on-one educational seminar on the parade of chemo’s eye-opening side effects. It sounded like one of those commercials for medicine. You know the ones – they start with images of good-looking people walking through a meadow and end with a long list of horrifying corollaries that come with the drug. For an hour or so, in a small room next to the chemo chamber, a nurse rattled off her bleak presentation, complete with pictures, and I knew that if I paid attention to even half of it, I’d decide to opt out. One of cancer’s best kept secrets, hidden in the fine print at the back of the book, rarely mentioned:  chemo-induced menopause. It unleashed its full force a couple weeks into my journey with those powerful injections. My first hot flash tiptoed into my life while I was in the kitchen. I thought I was standing too close to the oven, but even after I moved, the flood of heat radiated from inside my body, coursing through me like lava from a volcano, and I couldn't get away from it. I felt sweat drip down my back. My arms and legs went clammy with a layer of damp. No one else seemed to notice how incredibly hot the room had become. A moment later, the heat abated. Curious, I thought. An Alice-in-Wonderland moment. Menopause hot flashes After a while, I became used to sudden, overwhelming, intense heat boring through me at inopportune moments. At night, I’d kick off my blankets and wait, wide awake, til the feeling subsided. One particular hot flash is seared into my memory. On a sweltering evening, I
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