Monday, July 24, 2017

One Year and Seven Months Post Oophorectomy

Things Are Better Than They Were

I'll admit, in my last update post, I was way in over my head.  I was going through the first nine months of hormonal changes brought on by immediate menopause after having my risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy as a follow up to my mastectomy, all due to carrying the BRCA gene.  My head was twirling with information and hot flashes.  Nine months out from surgery, my hot flashes were coming on like wildfire and I was sinking into depression.  There I was, feeling great after my mastectomy journey, so I dove head first into the oophorectomy, thinking I could handle that just as gracefully.  Honestly, the mastectomy was easier for me.  There was surgery, and it was done.  I didn't have to have follow ups or think about medications or hormonal changes, etc.  The package was neat and tidy.  But the oophorectomy, I felt like it had changed my life and there was no turning back.


As I mentioned in my previous post, I tossed and turned about taking hormones to help me control the menopause symptoms.  I sought out advice from forums, doctors (yes, more than one), nutritionists and friends.  I felt guilty even thinking about taking hormones after all the surgeries I had to prevent cancer.  I felt guilty because of the voices who said, "no, don't do it."  But, in my head, I kept replaying something my husband taught me long ago, "you have to read both books."  So, I listened to both sides of the argument, I weighed things out to help me have the best quality and LOVE of life, and I decided to do it.  Here's what immediately happened according to my last post:

Ongoing Journal Updates

  • Three days after starting HRT, I noticed my hot flashes were getting better.  I went from 8-10 a day, to around 5.
  • Five days after starting HRT, my legs cramps are gone.  I can stretch to my hearts content without spasms.
  • Six days later, I'm an emotional wreck.  I fear this one because I have to be very careful that I'm not slipping into depression.  Everything is making me cry and I'm feeling quite alone.  I know this is the hormones, because for the last 9 months, I've barely shed a tear since the estrogen was removed from my body.  
Well, needless to say, a lot has changed since that first week of hormones.  After playing with some levels, yes, things got better.  The "depression" state I was feeling started going away within the next week and the hot flashes remained at about 5-6 BIG ones a day, which was an overall improvement for the better.  However, come my one year anniversary, December 2016, I still wasn't happy with how I was feeling nor with how many intense hot flashes I was still having.  I was also gaining weight like I'd never had before, besides pregnancy.  I didn't want to increase any of the estrogen or progesterone I was on (the lowest amount in estrogen gel and progesterone pill form) because that scared me.  So, in January 2017, I took things into my own hands.

Ketogenic Eating

*I am NOT a doctor, I can only tell MY story here.

In January, a friend told me about the Ketogenic way of eating.  I was very intrigued as I had read three things, 1) it helped with weight loss, 2) is was sugar-free which usually translates to cancer free, and 3) you're eating clean.  So, in February, I went to my doctor and expressed my frustration with my weight gain, but wanted to remain on the lowest dose of hormones possible.  So, he sent me to a nutritionist.

Ilona was very heartfelt when she recommended the Ketogenic way of eating for me.  She believed in it for patients like me, and felt that it helped so many areas I was struggling with, not just one.  After she thoroughly explained it to me and how it works, I was sold.  We started that day, as a family.  I rid my house of all sugars and carbs, basically leaving the refrigerator as our main source of food.  All the junk was gone.  We were now a high fat, moderate protein and low carb family, kids and all.

Within a week, yes, 7 days, of strict Keto eating, my hot flashes were almost nonexistent.  I was getting through my days and nights without sweating during work and racing for a tissue.  And six months later, its the flashes don't bother me anymore like they used to.  And I live in Singapore where its hot and humid!  Within the first month, my energy skyrocketed.  I no longer got the afternoon drag, I could stay up later and I just felt clarity.  My moods stabilized...I felt more in control and happy.  I'm also pleased to say that I have lost an incredible 21lbs.  Ketogenic eating has changed my life, my family's life.  My daughter has even started her own social media sites (following in mom's footsteps for advocacy?) on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, in order to help other kids and families eat cleaner and sugar-free.

When I went to my GYN follow up appointment last week, she was shocked with my weight loss, but wasn't surprised by the reduction in hot flashes.  She said carbs and sugar play a big part in hot flashes, added to the cyclical ups and downs of sugar rushes.  She was pleased with the results and decided there's no need to increase hormones at this time.

So, as of now, I'm praying that things remain as good as they are.  Hormones are in check.  Hot flashes are in check.  Weight is in check.  Life is in check.

Until next time my friends...
Lots of love,

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