‘Chemopause’: Too Hot to Trot

‘Chemopause’: Too Hot to Trot
My boss brought it up a couple of times, but the rule was clear: Polite people don’t mention it. Norma didn’t follow that rule. She’d walk down the hall fanning herself, her sweater flung over the nearest chair and her skin suddenly flushed red. “I’m having a hot flash,” she’d announce, and I’d squirm. I was 30 years old and had just moved from Kansas City to New York City to start a new job. My boss was starting a new phase of her life, too, one none of the women in my life ever talked about even though I had a mom, sisters, aunts, friends, teachers, and plenty of cousins. Would it have killed them to give me a clue? I never heard the word "menopause" said out loud. I never heard it whispered, either. But during cancer treatment, I got a crash course. My oncologist warned me that chemotherapy would induce menopause. But chemotherapy has so many side effects that my husband and I had to sit through an hour-long seminar before they’d administer the drug. If I listened to all of it, I would have lost my mind — and I doubt I would have understood it anyway. Menopause is one of those experiences that are universal for all women but concurrently private. Each woman’s journey is uniquely her own, and there’s no way to hop into someone else’s body to feel it from a different perspective. Plus, I had my hair to worry about. And the whole question about whether I’d survive cancer and the punitive treatment it required. A few women I know say they had no real symptoms of menopause at all. Their bodies just shifted, and they quietly moved from one
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