ovarian cancer

Menopause in your 30s

You don’t expect to go through the menopause in your 30s. No, you expect to have at least a decade or so before you even need to think about it. Yet that’s exactly what happened to me this year….

In January when I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer I was told that my chemotherapy, which started in the following few weeks, would ‘likely’ cause an early menopause and infertility.

There was brief discussion around harvesting eggs followed by the news that this wasn’t really a sensible option for me…phrases like ‘not enough time’ and ‘we need to start treatment asap’ filled the room and it became clear that parenthood was no longer an option.

Despite what many people think, this wasn’t completely devastating. Would I have liked kids? Yes of course!…but, let’s be honest, I had more important things to worry about! Reflecting now, almost 11 months later, and I’m still not upset by chemotherapy (and surgery) inducing my early infertility. I mean it takes all the ifs, buts and maybes women (and couple face) off of the agenda. I know I can’t have children and so also know I can focus my attention on other things to do with my time – something I’m sure avid readers will agree I’ve been doing plenty off…

But anyway, I digress from the point, this post is meant to be about early menopause, and that’s more than just infertility…(which, incidentally, I’ve written about in a previous post)…

As predicted, chemotherapy did start to put me through the menopause (hence the associated infertility I mention) and with it the forgetfulness, hot flushes, mood swings and night sweats we’ve all heard of. At first it wasn’t that bad. I mean I was kind of distracted by chemotherapy side affects anyway so it was hard to distinguish them from one another…

The side affects after my surgery was another story…

I remember the surgeon warning my husband before surgery that a hysterectomy would mean I would wake up with no hormones. No more going through the menapause with gentle ease (even if a few decades early). No, now I’d wake from theatre slap bang in the middle of it and all whilst recovering from massive surgery. Oh joy – lucky me! The surgeon joked to my husband that I’d be moody, sore and sleep deprived and that he best be super nice to me.

“Do I have to visit?” My husband joked

As it happened, it wasn’t that bad in the first weeks post surgery. My temperature was up and down and I was constantly switching between an ice pillow and a heated pad but, reflecting now, I’m not sure if this was the sudden lack of hormones or the ragging infection on my liver that was discovered shortly after.

My husband, of course, may reflect differently but this is my story and I’m sticking to it…

Now, however, it’s a few months since surgery and I can identify what are menopause symptoms and what are treatment symptoms. And, I’m going to be super honest with you now…are you ready?…

It’s not that bad!

Yes, when I have a hot flush I feel like I could happily rip my own flesh off just to get some relief from the ragging heat coursing through my body AND I am so forgetful I have on more than one occasion found I’ve put things in random places…like the time I put salad in the drawer under the sink….

BUT that is really the worst of it.

Other than that though, I have nothing to report in terms of symptoms!…again I may have symptoms that I think are treatment related (like mood swings) but I don’t think so…

I get asked a lot if I can take HRT and the answer is a simple “no”. This is because my cancer was hormone dependent so the last thing we want to do is fill my body with chemical hormones. Cue happy cancer!

Despite the forgetfulness, hot flushes and infertility I don’t mind the menopause. In fact I’m grateful for it…hold on…let me explain…

As with my colostomy bag, my hysterectomy is a reminder of how lucky I am to have recieived life saving surgery and if given the choice would you honestly choose cancer being left in your body over the ‘possibility‘ of children and/or no hot flushes. It’s not really much of a decision is it?

Also, and here comes my dark sense of humour (sorry), in the words of this meme…

Since my hysterectomy, I walk down the tampon aisle and laugh!

There is always something to be grateful for…

Love and light, Fi xxx


Cancer Induced Infertility & Loss

After hearing the words “you have late stage cancer” you don’t think there is much worse news your Drs could drop on you. Sadly there is.

The day following my diagnosis I was destined to hear a number of unsavoury statements:

“The chemo will likely make you infertile”

“Your cancer is too late stage and aggressive to preserve your eggs”

“Chemo will likely put you through an early Menapause”

“You have ovarian cancer so you won’t be able to take HRT”

“Even if chemo doesn’t make you infertile, if you are approved for surgery we will conduct a complete hysterectomy”

In short…you will never have children.

Now as a childless, married woman in her 30s who had lost a child the year before this was, in all honesty, harder to hear than my cancer diagnosis.

Infertility wasn’t the hardest part though. I’d always been open and welcome to the idea of adoption and it was something my husband and I had previously discussed. In my nieivity I still thought this was a viable option. I remember confidently responding to all these statements saying it was ok, I was ok, I could adopt. I remember the consultant and nurse’s faces as they exchanged looks. A look that acknowledged my nieivity. A look of pity. A look that said it all in the silence – which one of us is going to tell her?…

It turns out that you can’t adopt once you have stage four cancer. You are too ‘high a risk’. Your mortality too visible to be considered a loving parent.

This was salt in an already aching wound. I began to process the facts:

  • I can’t conceive because of chemo making me infertile.
  • I can’t use an egg donor in future because of surgery.
  • I can’t adopt.

Wow – do you ever think you are getting a clear message from the universe?! Mine – you.will.never.have.children. EVER.

This took a while for me to come to terms with. I was already grieving the loss of a child and, with it, the loss of a future that was entirely different from the one I was destined to face. Now my future was changing once more.

With the help of an incredible friend [ST -I love you to the moon and back], I have healed these wounds. I have ‘come to terms’ with the news and I have now reached the point where I can write about this in the hope of helping others to understand what it feels like, and supporting those who are walking the same journey.

Reflecting on my emotions during this time I now offer you some Dos and Don’ts for supporting someone who has lost a child or found out they are infertile.


  1. Say you know how they feel. Even if you have gone through similar you don’t know how they feel. You know how you felt. Let them tell you how they feel and share how you felt.
  2. Complain about pregnancy or labour. Whatever your symptoms. However bad they get. Your friend would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Talk about how you are feeling of course(!) but never complain. You get to hold your baby at the end of it. Always remember that.
  3. Ignore their loss. If a friend has shared that they have experienced a loss or infertility don’t ignore it, instead see the ‘do’ section below.
  4. Feel you can’t share your pregnancy/baby joy with them. Everyone may be different but I love hearing my loved ones are pregnant or when their baby arrives. It provides joy and hope and love. Don’t ever presume someone who can’t have children (or has lost a child) won’t want to be part of your happiness – by ‘protecting’ them from this you will only make them feel more sad and isolated.


  1. Tell your friend you love them and are there for them. Then actually make sure you are. Ask what you can do to help. Be their shoulder to cry on.
  2. Acknowledge your friend was pregnant. Only two friends ever asked me how I’d found pregnancy. Was I sick? Tired? Excited? Scared? This acknowledgment made a massive difference to me. 
  3. Share your personal stories. Whilst you shouldn’t say ‘I know how you feel’…your friend may find comfort in hearing that you have similar experiences. I certainly appreciated when friends felt they were able to share their personal stories and let me know how they had felt without assuming I felt the same. This has built valued friendships and support.
  4. Remember pregnancy loss and infertility affects men too.

With love, Fi xxx