Why I Support The Million Woman March: The Saga of the Broken Glass Vagina



My vagina feels like someone placed a glass in it and then crushed it with their fist. If this is  the "mild vaginal discomfort" I was warned about, I balk to think what classifies as pain. There must be something I can do about this, and so, with the reluctance that only comes when a side effect of my cancer treatment that impacts my hoohaw, I go to the doctor.

"Here's the problem," he explains patiently and gently, "We need to keep estrogen out of your body so it doesn't feed your cancer, but estrogen does a lot more than just feed cancer." Ok, logical, makes sense, so is there some way to put the estrogen just in my painful lady womb?

There is a cream, but it's a form of estrogen (I learn from googling) that needs to pass through the bloodstream and bond with other hormones in my blood before it can be the kind of estrogen that will fix the crippling pain in your pelvis. Estrogen passing through the bloodstream = potential cancer growth. Ok, pass.

There's a ring, that distributes pure estradiol (the converted form) just to the place you need it (hoohaw) but...

-- It's not covered by your insurance. (Why not? Because menopause is not covered by your health insurance, and this is a drug to treat menopause - which is what you *technically* have)

-- It costs about $500,  but the manufacturer offers coupons which bring it down... to $300.

-- It's sold out, everywhere. There is only a single manufacturer of it (love, patents) and the factory had some kind of issue and so it's gone. From everywhere. We expect it back in stock in a month or two.

Now, I am lucky enough to have a Supermom, who upon hearing this called every Walgreens in a two-hour radius and found (and paid for) one of these magical rings for me, involving several multi-hour round trips and some sort of her voodoo witch magic.

They say you can't actually remember pain, but I remember being curled in a ball with a hot pad, weeping over the powerlessness I felt to do anything about the pain I was in, broken, fixable, but unable to access the thing I needed. Forced to choose between pain and potentially feeding my cancer.

It was a nightmare I still have not recovered from, and I can't imagine that the new regime is going to make things like this any better.

Not unless we use our voices, our power, to advocate and fight for the things that are the most important to us, that are unique to us as women, that are not easy to understand, talk about or fight for.

Thank you for marching for me. This may be broken, but it is fixable.




Author's Note: I found it kind of overwhelming to write a short snippet of why I support this march. I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of possible answers. I wanted to write something inspiring, something powerful, something helpful. I wanted to tell a story that only I can. I was paralyzed over a blank cursor. We have a saying in our house. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

So this is just my first bite.

3 comments :

  1. I also support the march with my whole mind/spirit/body, including a cancer-shattered vagina. I am experiencing the EXACT same thing right now from Goserelin + an aromatase inhibitor. Pain, discharge (we need a less vile word for this), itching. Discomfort is a laughable word. It's getting worse, I have only had one shot so far. Getting my ovaries removed soon. Anyway, thank you for writing this, I am your sister in rage/raging vagina. Why isn't there something--anything--on the market that is safe to treat this?

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    1. I'm going to see a specialist here in Chicago hopefully soon, her name is Dr. Laura Streicher and you should totally look her up - this is her specialty. Sending you lots of love and good vibes xoxox

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  2. I share your rage, at the state of a world where women's sexual and reproductive health is not adequately funded and girls/women suffer - and stand to suffer more as misogynist right wing populists take over increasing swaths of territory. And I share your pain - I am daily in some sort of supreme mental effort to work and function and be happy while my vagina is such a major freakin distraction. This happened to me in year three of the long period of hormone treatment and so it sucks, but at least I got that far before this set in. So far, I haven't found help despite trying all the things cancer sisters suggest on the internet. Thanks for the Doctor tip - I feel shock that menopausal women for generations before haven't burned down Washington mall to get menopause listed as a legit issue to be funded by health insurance.
    Check out this BBC article about how hard it is for medical researchers to conduct scientific research on women's sexuality, and how little is actual known about even the basic nerve mappings. It fueled my itchy rage:) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38170324

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