JENNI MURRAY: HRT helps so many, but I regret having it 

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  • Major cutters are offering to pay HRT prescriptions for Timpson employees
  • Jenny Murray took estrogen and progestogen pills for ten years
  • UK-based columnist spotted the first signs of cancer in 2006
  • She says the time has come for women to know the link between HRT and breast cancer.

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Twenty years ago, at the age of 51, I published the book Is It Me or Is It Hot in Here? – A Modern Women’s Guide to Menopause. I was shocked when I went through the heavy bleeding, low mood, and hot flushes of perimenopause – the phase that leads to the end of menstruation when you actually become menopausal – how taboo was the topic and how little was balanced about life. Information about the phase that every woman will go through.

My aim was to explain what menopause was and what our choices were about dealing with its worst excesses. I researched the results of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), herbal alternatives, diet and exercise and how to tolerate it easily. I think I have contributed to making the topic less taboo. It’s encouraging that this is now being talked about openly and that some employers are trying to be helpful.

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Leading cutters are offering Timpson employees to pay for HRT prescriptions, and online clothing firm Asos will provide paid leave and flexible work.

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As Chief Cutter offers to pay for HRT prescriptions for Timson employees, Jenny Murray narrates her own experience with the treatment (file image)

The first books I remember on menopause are Wendy Cooper’s No Change and gynecologist Robert Wilson’s Feminine Forever. Both were quite curious about HRT. Wendy was written off from her own experience and informed my mom, whose menopause was terrible, that her GP could be persuaded to prescribe it. She did and she stuck to it in the early ’70s.

only one problem. When she stopped, as evidenced by a link with breast cancer, she had terrible menopausal symptoms for months. No fun in your eighties.

I hated Wilson’s book because he was so harsh about menopausal women. “I have seen untreated women who have shrunk to the caricatures of their ex,” he wrote. Still, I suspect many of us were swayed by his name and took HRT, ‘The Youth Pill’.

I know many of my friends and I couldn’t wait to get it, convinced that the estrogen we were turning to would give us beautiful skin and great hair. When I asked my GP for a blood test to confirm that I was perimenopausal, he looked at the results and said: ‘Do you need pills or patches?’

Jenny Murray (pictured) said she would have liked to have hot flushes and a little tightness for fear of spreading the cancer and disfiguring her breast

Jenny Murray (pictured) said she would have liked to have hot flushes and a little tightness for fear of spreading the cancer and disfiguring her breast

I tried both. I took the patches off when they recurred at night and stuck to my husband, but I continued with combined estrogen and progestogen pills for ten years, staving off concerns about breast cancer because I felt very good.

The Emma Humphries Memorial Award is given to a woman who has made an outstanding contribution to ending male violence against women. On Sunday, 45-year-old Daisy received the award. She can only be referred to by that name to protect the identity of her birth mother, who was raped 46 years ago by Carvel Bennett at the age of 13. In July, Bennett, now 74, was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Daisy had proved that he was the rapist who had given birth to her and left her mother to face alone. She is now campaigning for children born through rape to be recognized as secondary victims of crime. i wish her the best.

Then, in 2006, came the first sign of cancer, an inverted nipple. My oncologist immediately asked if I was taking HRT. I was. ‘Stop it. Now,’ he said. I had an estrogen receptor cancer, he told me.

‘What’s the matter,’ he said, ‘your body is getting rid of converting estrogen when it is feeding your cancer cells?’ I know it helps millions, but five friends who loved HRT as much as I did over the next few years.

The link between HRT and breast cancer has been underestimated, then stressed at times, as I experienced all those years ago.

Maybe the quality of medicine has improved since I was 40. Maybe there is more information about who may be most at risk, but it seems to me that we still don’t know for sure what the relationship is between HRT and breast cancer. And it’s high time women know for sure.

I would have loved to have hot flushes and feel a little tight for fear of the cancer spreading and my breasts distorting. no contest.

Peter Rabbit’s Watchful Tail

Jenny Said Cautionary Stories in Peter Rabbit and Jemima Poodle-Duck Stories Are Just What You Need in a Children's Story

Jenny Said Cautionary Stories in Peter Rabbit and Jemima Poodle-Duck Stories Are Just What You Need in a Children’s Story

So the novelist, Maggie O’Farrell, thinks that the Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck stories are frightening and scary and can be compared to Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus – the play where two boys are killed, cooked and fed to their mother in a pie.

Of course, Peter Rabbit is warned not to go into Mr. McGregor’s garden because his father was shot and put in a pie. But he is mischievous and quick and narrowly escapes the same fate. Jemima is saved from being eaten by Mr. Toad – the fox she thought she could trust. Surely this kind of cautionary tale is exactly what you need in a children’s story.

Some people are cunning and should not be trusted. And always listen to your mother. She knows best.

Hollywood Contest Jodie Murder

Jenny said Jodie Comer (pictured) deserves to be one of the A-listers selected for Elle magazine's Women in Hollywood 2021

Pictured: Jodie on the cover of Elle magazine

Jenny said Jodie Comer (pictured) deserves to be one of the A-listers selected for Elle magazine’s Women in Hollywood 2021

I wasn’t a big fan of Killing Eve—too violent for my taste—but I was impressed by Jodie Comer and her ability to embrace any accent her character, the killer Villanelle, chose. Then came his performance as a care home worker,…

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