We are thrilled to announce that Laura Stratte, RN has joined Elektra Health and our mission to smash the menopause taboo. Laura is an incredible talent, and we’re thrilled to have her working on behalf of women everywhere. Without further ado: read about Laura, her hormonal health journey, and what drew her to Elektra Health. Welcome to the team, Laura!
“Menopause and Me” written by Laura Stratte, RN
Laura Stratte, RN is Elektra’s Operations and Program Manager. Before joining the Elektra team, she worked as a nurse specializing in breast cancer care and cancer survivorship and built programs for cancer patients and survivors focused on wellness and lifestyle. She can’t believe her kids are already in high school and has an even harder time accepting that her first notable concert (Fishbone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers) was over three decades ago.
My experience with menopause can be divided into three parts. I’ve lived through two already but the third is just starting.
The first happened when I went through chemotherapy for breast cancer at age 35. That sudden thrust into chemo-induced menopause was a shocker that I was woefully unprepared for. I expected having to manage chemo symptoms like nausea and mouth sores, and I was actually excited that I wasn’t going to have my period for several months (chemo perk!) but when the hot flashes hit? I was not ready for those.
Fortunately, my cycle resumed after chemo was finished, but then I started on a 5+ year course of a common medication for breast cancer with side effects that, you guessed it, mimic menopause (cancer: the gift that keeps on giving). The hot flashes were back, along with the possibility of a whole host of other symptoms that I had never known about before.
I remember talking to a doctor about the hot flashes and he said “Don’t worry, they might get better eventually.” Get better with what? Magic?
My second menopause experience came four years later when I became a breast cancer nurse navigator and started working with women who were on the same or similar journeys. Some were experiencing menopausal symptoms due to their cancer treatments, but many were experiencing them because of the simple fact that they are women – and all women go through menopause! I met women trying to cope with symptoms – usually unsuccessfully and often many for years – that significantly affected their quality of life. I heard plenty of stories about women not being able to find the right help and support and I also discovered that many women didn’t know they could ask.
Now I’m 47 (Gen X represent!) and starting to feel the perimenopausal feels – sleep, I’m really starting to miss you! I’m embarking on my third experience. One thing I’ve noticed is that my friends and I don’t talk about perimenopause or menopause. When we were having our kids way back when, pregnancy was a main topic of conversation. We swapped pregnancy books and maternity clothes and shared intimate details about bodies with one another. All. The. Time.
But we definitely aren’t sharing in the same way with menopause. I recently brought this up at a responsible, socially-distanced outside gathering with a few of my friends and they looked a bit confused when I suggested we talk about it.* I started to call out symptoms: anxiety, heavy periods, sleep disturbances, dry skin, hair thinning, vaginal issues…Each one of my friends was experiencing at least one symptom and none of them knew that these were associated with perimenopause and menopause.
*Let me add here that after I finished their unsolicited lesson, we turned the conversation around to the many benefits of our aging status: Our kids are old enough to drive themselves around! We are *finally* starting to care way less about the unimportant stuff! We can plan vacations outside of prime, expensive school vacation time! Well, theoretically at least for that last one. So many silver linings!
Through these personal and professional menopause experiences, I’ve seen the huge gap in knowledge, resources, and care for women going through this significant life transition. I’ve seen how this universally-female journey affecting 50% of the earth’s population is not only inadequately addressed by the traditional healthcare system, it’s also not properly celebrated and acknowledged by society at large. It remains deeply stigmatized. But I’ve also seen how menopause can also usher women into a wonderfully exciting and new phase of life that more often than not, gives us more time to focus on ourselves and our own well-being.
Laura and family on vacation in Spain (2019)
That’s why I am absolutely thrilled to be joining Elektra Health. All of those issues I just mentioned? Elektra is addressing each one by providing world-class, evidence-based care, education, and community for women as we navigate through the sometimes murky waters of perimenopause and menopause. Our mission is to smash the menopause taboo and empower women so we can take the reins on our own menopause journeys and celebrate ourselves.
I think this third time around, my menopause experience is going to be pretty amazing!