Why I’m combining my menopause experience with my professional knowledge
Theresa Gibson is a radiographer working principally with cancer patients. She has also trained in beauty and massage therapy, followed by Jennifer Young oncology touch treatments.
Now, following her own experiences with menopause, she is doing our Hormonal Wellness Coaching and Mentoring as well as our Hormone Balancing Touch Therapy qualifications. Here, she explains how her work and personal experiences are coming together to support women during and after cancer treatment, and through natural as well as medical menopause.
Combining medical and holistic knowledge
I am a radiographer by profession. I started in nuclear medicine just after qualifying, when I was 21 and I’m 56 now. With nuclear medicine you inject a radioactive pharmaceutical into the patient and depending on what pharmaceutical it’s linked to, it goes to specific sites in the body.
At the moment I'm doing PET (positron emission tomography) CT scanning with oncology patients. We inject a radioactive sugar (FDG), which is taken up by cancer cells as they have a higher metabolic rate than other cells. 95% of the work I do is with oncology patients.
I have a son who's now 31, but when he was 18 months old I split with his father and moved back to Lancaster. It was then that I did my beauty therapy training. I'm also a reiki master and I teach reiki. I did my training with Jennifer Young in 2016 in oncology massage, facials and manicures, but I didn't really put it to good use at the time.
My menopause experience
Now I'm going through menopause and I'm getting every symptom under the sun. Left to my own devices and researching as much as I could, I started using DoTerra phytoestrogens and a herbal menopause complex and I was getting amazing results. My hot flushes drastically reduced and I started to sleep a lot better.
I also went to the doctor to ask for help, but a few years ago I had a benign tumour (Phylloides tumour) removed from my breast and in it they found that there was a very small DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). They're very tiny and often come to nothing, but they can develop into something more serious. So far I haven't had any problems, but as a result of that, the breast cancer screening team informed my GP that they weren't happy for me to go on HRT. There wasn't really any alternative advice.
My GP explained that they couldn’t recommend me taking phytoestrogen supplements as they aren't regulated. However, the only other thing they would offer was a pharmaceutical drug that's not for menopause but has been found to help with menopause symptoms - it turned out to be an antidepressant. I didn't want to do that, and when I came off the phytoestrogens all my symptoms came back.
Ultimately, I chose to go back on the phytoestrogens as my tumour was benign and everything I am taking is present in natural food groups anyway.
Professional and personal experiences
At the same time that all of this was happening, I saw Jennifer Young's MPlus skincare range and hormone balancing qualifications advertised on Facebook. It really resonated with me because I have struggled and not got anywhere with the medical profession. When I mentioned to friends that I wanted to do the training, they were lining up to try the treatments.
I love Jennifer's products and the way she presents her courses - it’s so human - so I signed up to do both the mentoring and the touch therapy qualifications. Then I had a bit of an issue as it's a long time since I did the oncology massage techniques, so I asked for a refresher course, and she has sent me that for massage and facials.
Working in the oncology arena, we have seen a huge rise in cancer cases over the last 18 months. I often see women who go into medical menopause from cancer treatment, and I know what natural menopause feels like too. I want to do something that really makes a difference to people, that I can empathise with. It feels like everything is coming together. I also did a Masters degree in Mindfulness and Compassion at Coventry University last year, which included some research on how mindfulness affects menopause.
What I hope to do now is set up my own clinic doing oncology massage and facials, then extending that into menopause - whether it's medical or natural. I fully respect my GP and what they have to offer, but I think there needs to be something different for people who can't or don't want to take HRT or antidepressants. It feels like the planets are aligning.