Period after menopause is NOT normal – get a 2nd opinion if necessary

Qultluvr writes:

I’d like to tell my story so that women in menopause know that having a period (after not having one for at least 6 months) is NOT normal.

My tale really involves 2 women – myself and a friend who is about my age and about the same size as I am.

We both had what seemed and felt like a menstrual period after having been told we were in full menopause. Since I had a reliable doctor, off I went to be checked out. My doctor said it is definitely not normal and sent me for a D&C. The tissue from the D&C came back as “pre-cancerous” and my doctor said the standard prescription for that is a hysterectomy. I did a little research and found the same thing. So my doctor sent me to a surgeon, who though grumpy and mean (to everybody), scheduled the surgery. The surgery was decidedly not fun, but all went well. The pathology report came back with the info that there had indeed been a tumor (cancer) in the cavity of the uterus. Now it is 6 years later and I am able to dance/work/chase-my-grandkids to my heart’s delight.

My friend’s story is very different. She had what seemed like a period and thought it was normal and ignored it for several years. She mentioned it to another friend, who urged her to talk to me and I urged her to go see a doctor. So she did and got the usual “you’re too fat” run-around. She insisted that something must be done and did get a referral to a local surgeon – who said she was too fat, that nobody could do a hysterectomy on her and refused to do the surgery. I’m not clear how many doctors she went through, but she did eventually find one competent enough to do a hysterectomy on a 300ish pound woman. My recovery was 6 weeks; hers has been over 6 months. My total time from first visit to totally recovered was 5 months; hers was about 3 full years, some of it listening in misery to some jerk tell her she’s too fat and refusing to treat something she clearly knows is not okay. Her outcome now is pretty good, so this story has a reasonably happy ending for both of us.

I think it does have two clear points.
1) If you think something is wrong, get to a doctor and keep going until you find one who will treat you respectfully and actually listen to what is going on.
2) It does really help to have found a doctor you can trust before you really need one. I know how hard that is and yes, it is hard. I had to drive an hour and a half from my home to the doctor’s office (same distance to the hospital) and it was absolutely worth it at the time I needed a reliable doctor most.

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Size prejudice hurts us all – no matter what size we are.

Another reader writes:

Fat Prejudice Kills Thin Women Too

I work at a university where staff are given a membership at the school gym as one of our benefits. A few months ago I was in the weight room working out when I overheard a conversation between two of our better professors, let’s call them Sue and Nancy. Nancy told Sue that she was looking good lately, had she lost weight? Yes, said Sue! She’d been working out harder lately and had lost a lot of weight. Now, Sue’s not a fat woman by any means, so “a lot” is a relative quantity. But still, I remembered the conversation.

A couple of weeks ago the university received an email. Sue had died suddenly. I was struck by the loss of an excellent teacher and role model to our students.

It fell to the gossip network for me to learn what had happened. Sue had felt numbness in one of her arms and had gone to get it checked out. Shockingly, she was diagnosed with cancer. Some have said it was lung cancer, others have said it wasn’t. She underwent treatment, and perhaps because of the treatment experienced a severe stroke. Within a few weeks of her diagnosis she was dead at 35.

When I heard this my mind went back to that conversation in the gym. What if her weight loss wasn’t the result of diet and exercise? What if it was the first symptom of her cancer? Not knowing her closely, I have no way to know. But I wonder…

And I wonder how often weight loss, which can be a symptom of cancer and a host of other serious diseases, is ignored or welcomed! How few women of any size would see weight loss as a problem, and ask a doctor to try to find a cause? If fat is something to hate, no matter your size, to want to remove or reduce, then a person is very unlikely to see sudden weight loss negatively.

Could Sue’s cancer have been detected earlier? If it had, could she have faced a more gentle treatment that wouldn’t have killed her?

I think this is a moment to reflect that size prejudice endangers us all, no matter what size we are.