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As part of our series of blog posts in recognition of World Menopause Day coming up on 18th October, we share an insight from Jeanette Guthrie, who has opened up about her own personal experience of menopause and the importance of talking to your GP and getting medical help early on.
My Menopause Experience…
By Jeanette Guthrie, Finance Assistant, Hillcrest
At nearly 56 I was still experiencing my menstrual cycle, with it often lasting for longer than the typical 5 days. I would continually bleed – not heavy, but always with some stomach cramps but nothing some pain killers could not shift. I was told by my family “this is just the menopause it will stop shortly”.
This continued for about 9 months then I had a really bad cramp one day and decided it was time to visit the doctor – (I even managed to get an appointment face to face, although this was 4 years ago!!). Fortunately, she sent me for an internal ultrasound scan, and it showed up a thickening of the womb which they wanted to do a biopsy on. Thankfully this appointment came through quickly and I was so anxious about it I asked the senior nurse who was doing the biopsy if it was okay, only for her to tell me she did see something she didn’t like.
The next 3-4 weeks were the longest ever, and when I did get the phone call, the day after my birthday, I was told I had stage 1 womb cancer and needed a full hysterectomy. By this time, I really just wanted this operation so I could get rid of the bleeding and cramping and the anxiety. Thanks to a cancellation appointment, I went into the hospital on the 18th March, was operated on the next day and home just two days later. I also had 4 weeks of preventative radiotherapy.
The menopause didn’t really happen for me after this, aside from sweats and a little limb tingling but I wanted to tell my story because I thought I was going through the menopause with all the symptoms, but it turned out to be something quite different.
My advice is to never be afraid to go to the doctor – you know your own body and sometimes things are not what they seem. I was also told that if you haven’t gone through the menopause by 55 you should get checked… it will most likely be nothing but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
I was lucky that my cancer hadn’t progressed quickly, but if I’d ignored it, things could’ve been very different. For anyone experiencing menopause symptoms – please, don’t suffer in silence – there is solidarity to be found by sharing experiences with other women who are going through the same.