I still get the occasional hot flash, but the bigger side effect for me is the night sweats. I get them probably twice a week. I wake up and the sheets, my pajamas, everything will just be soaked. I’ll get up in the night and change my clothes, sometimes even take a cold shower before I get back in bed. I’ve had to go out and get lots of extra sheets so I can change them multiple times a week if I need to. I found basic ones from Target that are a dupe of Brooklinen; I couldn’t spend $300 on multiple sheet sets. I’ve found that the best sheets to keep me cool are cotton and very breathable. And I always sleep in cotton pajamas, never silk or nylon or polyester.
In addition to cranking up the air conditioning in my apartment, I also got an additional Honeywell fan and I have that blast on me at night. And I always make sure I drink a lot of water. In my research, some menopausal women said avoiding caffeine helped reduce night sweats, so I went from regular coffee to decaf and now I just drink green and chamomile teas. And that’s really helped me.
Intense night sweats are an inconvenience, but the biggest impact of being in menopause this young is that I’ll never have biological children. I’ll be on treatment for the rest of my life. It’s too risky to come off it to become pregnant and give the cancer an environment to grow in. If I decide to have children, I’ll have to adopt or do surrogacy or something else. I asked my doctor about egg freezing right after my diagnosis, but he said, “Look, if you inject yourself with hormones to freeze your eggs, you could be exacerbating the cancer even more. And we need to start treatment now.” Even a couple of months was too long to wait.
Right now I get these regular Lupron injections, but in seven or eight years I might have my ovaries removed because then I’d be able to stop going in for the injections. I’m not ready yet, though. Once I remove my ovaries, it’s that moment of, “Okay, I’ve really done this. I can’t have kids.” I know the realities of the situation, but I think keeping my ovaries is holding on to that tiny bit of hope.