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facing menopause and mortalityThree oncologists recommended that I have my ovaries surgically removed after a blood test and sonogram suggested I might be at risk for ovarian cancer.

Fortunately, the biopsy of the removed ovaries revealed a few abnormal cells that were not consistent with ovarian cancer. Incredible relief followed by full on, straight up menopause––the morning after surgery. Instant menopause was navigated with a little help from HRT – yes, I used it. I didn’t have hot flashes, I had soaks. I didn’t have mood swings, I cried for no reason and all the time. My joints were sore and I became so stiff I wasn’t able to get out of bed without pain. I’m not recommending hormones here–that’s a decision that each woman has to make for herself with the guidance of her doctor.

The transition into menopause is generally slow, beginning with peri-menopause that usually begins five to eight years before actual menopause. It is a time of contemplation and change that often includes facing the reality that there is more life behind you than in front. I’ve heard that the years leading up to menopause begin with a gentle tap on your shoulder before that unimaginable flush comes that seems to start in your toes (at least that’s where mine began). And then the voice–– You better get on with it! You better start living your life with consciousness!

I missed the slow transition and that period of adjustment. Instead circumstances had me facing life, death and menopause all at once. It slowed me down and quickly. During the time I was recovering, I experienced a quiet in myself that I had not known before. I had to take care of myself. I had to face what I experienced as a kind of hollowness in my body––mourn the loss of those tiny almond-sized organs that helped to conceive my babies while ironically facing that they might be the cause of my death.

I am not suggesting that this was a wonderful experience, it wasn’t. But I did get through it and there was a dramatic change in my thinking. That little voice inside roared, “I am mortal and I better get on with it!”  And so I did and I am and it’s helped me push the women I work with to do the same. Sing, Dance, Write, Paint, find a passion and soar.

Marcia is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and founder of the Women’s Coaching Center. She can also be found at www.marciareich.com

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