Posts made in February, 2011

Becoming your mother. Effects and misconceptions of aging. A guest post by Cherry Woodburn

Posted by on Feb 4, 2011 in Inspiration, women's health | 25 comments

There are some days that the people in your circle introduce you to individuals who literally rock your world. When a colleague and friend suggested that Cherry Woodburn was a woman that I wanted to get to know better, she couldn’t have been more correct. Cherry is the founder of Borderless Thinking, a business that teaches women to ‘tame their inner shrew’ and do and become who they really want to be. What a message!

Cherry hits on some very important points in this post on becoming our mothers, on aging and on misconceptions. Denial? You bet I’m in it. Cherry’s post opened my eyes a lot wider.


About 3 or 4 months ago I lost my waist. I had it in the evening when I went to bed and when I woke up and put on a pair of my pants that are designed to be worn on a waist I discovered my waist was missing. Gone. I don’t know where it went. I searched the closets, trying on other pants thinking perhaps I’d accidentally left my waist behind, but nope, not there.

I’m sure you’ve had it happen: a set of keys, or reading glasses or a bookmark – you knew where they were the night before and since you didn’t leave the house, they still must be there yet you can’t find them in the morning. Familiar right? It’s happened to me too, but this was the first time it occurred with a body part.


Seriously, when it came to the thickening-of-the-waist that happens to women in middle age, it didn’t happen to me.  I was quite smug about it. I liked beating the system. Then, as I mentioned – without warning – several months ago I learned that not only did I not beat the matronly waist system, but I’d become my mother in the process.

“I’m going to be the exception.”

Growing up (which is happening every day of our lives so I don’t know why that expression applies only to our youth) when I spent time with “old” people I knew that some of the things they did were never going to happen to me:

  • I would never not want to drive at night. Now I understand why they preferred not to drive at night – your night vision changes as you age. I still drive at night but would prefer not to, at least when it’s rainy. But my night life also doesn’t start at 10 pm like it did in my 20s so it’s really not that big of a deal.
  • I’d never re-use aluminum foil like my mom did. You can safely place a large bet on what I’m doing these days with aluminum foil (and it’s not using it as a hat to communicate with aliens).
  • I would always make sure I understood what my kids work entailed. At some point my parents stopped asking me questions about my work, which had been teaching Statistical Process Control. Although they tried to understand it, without a frame of reference it made no sense to them. Now my younger  son is working with computers in areas that are far beyond how I use computers, with no frame of reference, no real understanding.
  • Saying things like my mother did: ” You’ll understand when you get older.” I particularly dislike this one so I rarely say it out loud but I must admit to thinking it.
  • Wearing muu-muus and flat shoes. I never, never thought I’d want to wear shapeless things and no cute high heels. But “you’ll see when you get older” that saying “never” ought to be avoided. When you lose your waist you find comfort, literally, in clothing with no binds.

Things I Had Wrong About Aging

The reason that I grapple with the fact that I’m 61 years old is because I haven’t eradicated the misconceptions I formed in my youth about what 61 meant. The misconceptions, in large part, come from a culture still obsessed with youth and perpetuated by the media and cosmetic industries.

Here are a few things I, in my youth, had wrong about the older generation(s).

  1. Older people curse. In fact I knew the word fuck long before it became the f-bomb; so when a group of kids increases the volume of their cursing when I walk by, they’re not shocking me.
  2. Old(er) people still want to have sex. [eww…] It’s extra heavenly now – no need for birth control, no kids to hear it or come into your room.
  3. Old(er) people still feel like they did in their 30s. It’s only our bodies that belie our age.
  4. Old(er) people still have active brains even if their experiences and opinions are different than younger – still menstruating – generations.
  5. Old(er) people use to be young. I know I found it hard to imagine. They/we rebelled against our parents, stayed out late, partied and more.

Stereotypes, labels and generational profiling is a trap that’s easy to fall into, but like racial profiling, it’s dangerous territory – too many mistakes can be made. “When we accept [generational/age] labels, we foster division. Each person, not generation, brings something important to the party. It’s our job to figure out what that is and grow from it.” Dawn Lennon, Business Fitness

About the author…Cherry Woodburn is a speaker, writer and facilitator on behalf of  women’s issues and the power of women sharing their stories for growth, healing, fun and community. Cherry blogs at Borderless Thinking and you can also find her on Twitter. Her mantra? Embracing the real you.

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Wednesday Bubble: Holy Hot Flash Menopause Woman!

Posted by on Feb 2, 2011 in breast cancer | 5 comments

Bet you never thought you’d hear holy and hot flash in the same sentence! However, it appears that menopausal hot flashes, those bothersome, sweat inducing, embarassment producing, change of clothing inducing symptoms might actually deliver something better than a whole lotta dread. And so, dear readers, after the bad breast cancer news that I delivered on Monday, I’m happy to report some good!

You mean I WANT hot flashes? Well not exactly. But there sure is a interesting paradigm hidden somewhere in the diminishing returns of estrogen, that is, severe, wake you in the middle of the night or interrupt your meeting hot flashes might actually reduce risk for invasive breast cancer.

As we know all too well, menopausal symptoms often occur as estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate and the ovaries cease to function reproductively.  However, utilizing data culled from a study whose original intent was to evaluate the link between hormone therapy and risks of different types of breast cancer, researchers have actually uncovered some positivity! In this study, women between the ages of 50 and 74 were randomly selected based on confirmed invasive breast cancer and then matched by age to healthy women. All were interviewed about their reproductive history, menstruation/menopause history, use of hormones, BMI, medical history, family history of cancer and use of alcohol.  They were also asked specifically about their experience with menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, bladder issues, irregular menstruation, depression, anxiety, emotional distress and insomnia and requested to rate them based on their frequency and severity.

Interesting enough, women who reported menopausal symptoms had a 40% to 60% lower risk of the type of invasive breast cancer that starts in the milk ducts (i.e., invasive ductal carcinoma or IDC) and invasive breast cancer that starts in the glands at the end of the milk ducts (i.e. invasive lobular carcinoma or ILC). Moreover, reduced risk for these cancers as well as the mixed ductal/lobular type was especially pronounced among women who experienced hot flashes with perspiration or whose hot flashes woke them up compared to women who had hot flashes without perspiration or others symptoms with awakening during the night.

The researchers say that they believe that menopausal symptoms may be markers for hormonal changes that precipitate breast cancer. In other words, pronounced the changes in reproductive hormones may actually be related to breast cancer risk. Less clear are the direct connections between individual symptoms and risk. However, they noted that the relationship between symptoms and risk did not change when hormone use, age when menopause began or BMI were factored into the equation.

Clearly, this is only one study so no firm conclusions can be drawn, at least not yet. But with all the bad news about hormone therapy and breast cancer risk, it’s heartening to learn that the hormones that are wreaking havoc on our lives may actually be protecting us from harm.

Holy hot flash indeed!

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