Brand building through storytelling

My name is Rona and I am an estrogen addict

I just ran into a 50-something colleague, normally a take-charge sort, who confessed to soul-destroying frazzlement: emotional tailspins, scrambled thoughts, night sweats that ravaged her sleep. She was tempted to start taking estrogen, but had been spooked by scare-mongering headlines. This woman has vanquished severe depression that might come galloping back if she lets herself slide into a hormonal funk. “What are you waiting for?” I urged. “Take the pills and get some rest. I’ve been on hormones  for 15 years and without them I just don’t feel like myself.”

I admit it: I’m an estrogen lifer. I’ve made two attempts to quit, and both times I gave up within weeks. I wanted to be me, not a sleep-deprived wraith. I’ve decided I can live with the increased breast cancer risk that studies keep telling me I’m running—especially since the increase is a fraction of what you might think, to judge from the furor in the news. Still, I have my intemittent spells of anxiety. It’s not exactly reassuring that the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, while pronouncing hormone therapy safe and effective for short-term symptom relief, says that women should quit within five years. I’ve been taking hormones for three times that long.

Am I deluded, or simply pragmatic? I could lie awake and fret about this but I have a better option. As a writer, I can turn my angst into magazine stories. Financially speaking, I might fare just as well turning empty wine bottles fished from dumpsters into pocketsful of change, but I do get to learn a thing or two on the research trail. That’s why I wrote “Kicking the hormone habit” for More‘s Canadian edition. Between the day the editors approved my story and the day it finally went to press, two more disturbing studies made news—and sent me back to my computer for urgent revisions. I didn’t find any good reasons to give up the little blue pills that pulled me back from the brink of hormone hell, but I did learn that “estrogen addict” may not be just a figure of speech. Which explains a colorfully embarrassing meltdown on a recent overseas vacation. Curious? My story’s on Canadian newsstands now (look for More‘s December/January issue); my American friends can read it on this website early next year.

At the rate things are going, there’ll be more alarming reports before then. I’ve grown so accustomed to bouts of bad news that I’ve stopped expecting anyone credible to advise hormone therapy on anything but the most tepid and cautious of terms. Yet no sooner had my hormone story hit the street than my husband handed me his ever-present iPhone and said, in the tone he usually reserves for a particularly tempting and well-priced bottle of Alsatian gewurztraminer, “You won’t want to miss this.”

There in bold type was the most contrarian of headlines: “Hormone therapy: why hormone replacement could save your life, not threaten it.” I grant you, Huffington Post is not The New England Journal of Medicine. But blogging doctors Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen make a fascinating case. Check it out.



Posted by Rona

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