Today, a “feminine hygiene product” fell out of my purse onto the passenger seat of my car. I looked at it like it was a space alien of sorts.

Why, do you ask? My last menstrual cycle was in 2012. I must be in menopause; I mean, it’s been over a year. Actually, it’s been over three years.

However, my menopause was chemically induced with Lupron injections as part of my breast cancer treatment. I had one cycle after the first injection and then no more. Lupron, incidentally, was not yet part of standard breast cancer treatment when I first started receiving my quarterly injections. It was, however, a part of standard treatment for prostate cancer. You see, Lupron disrupts the signal between the pituitary gland and whatever reproductive organ you might have. In the early days of the shots, there was always a photo of a man, “smiling Lupron man” on the box in which the Lupron syringe was contained. And yes, Lupron was also used with women to treat conditions associated with infertility but maybe the dose was different. I didn’t see women on those boxes in the early days. In time, it became more of a standard practice of treatment for hormone positive breast cancer.

Although I experienced intense and frequent hot flashes and night sweats as a result of jumping into menopause thanks to Lupron, I actually tolerated the treatment pretty well. Tolerating a treatment is pretty subjective. I experienced significant side effects, including up to 50 hot flashes a day, at one point, and disrupted, poor quality sleep. To me, it was a pain in the ass but a tolerable pain in the ass. And in time, the intensity and frequency of these side effects lessened somewhat.

I took my last Lupron shot in November of 2014. Each shot is effective for three months. And you know what? The effects of Lupron are not always permanent. I will turn 50 in November. I was experiencing peri-menopause when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 46. I was making my way to menopause. However, the path to menopause is quite variable. Peri-menopause can take years and years and years. During my last oncology appointment,

One of my colleagues has a book in her office called, Have You Started YetIt’s a book for girls about puberty and periods. Remember that time? Not knowing when your cycles would start and hoping that you were neither the first nor the last?

For the record, I was 12. I was relieved. My body worked. I was not going to be left behind by my peers and be left out of the club of maturity. After about a year, began the monthly decent into menstruation Hell. Cramps worse than any labor pains I experienced in childbirth. (Knowing that labor pains were supposed to be 100 times worse than menstrual cramps, I asked for an epidural early and often until I got it. It kicked butt on pain.) The bleeding was horribly heavy, going on for 7-10 days, just like my mom. However, unlike my mom, my cycles were of irregular length, anywhere from 28-42 days. And then there was the nausea and vomiting.

This all improved enormously after pregnancy and childbirth. However, that was 20 years later! So losing my periods with Lupron was far and away the best cancer treatment side effect that I could hope for. Hurray! Yay! Yes, this change was also accompanied by facial hair and it becoming EVEN harder to maintain healthy weight. It still seemed like an awfully good deal to me!

I had my final Lupron shot in November. They last three months. During my last oncology appointment in the spring, Dr. Rinn said, “It could start back any time or not at all.”

So, just like a premenstrual 11 year-old girl, I keep supplies on hand, just in case.