World Menopause Day

Hayley Sharp, Waterman Aspen Menopause champion

For World Menopause Day, we’re pleased to introduce our new Menopause Champion, Hayley Sharp. Hayley is already a trained Mental Health First Aider and now is our dedicated Menopause Champion to help provide an additional layer of support to people at Waterman Aspen. Read Hayley’s own experience of menopause and why it’s so important to raise awareness.

Menopause is a topic that, until recently, did not have much exposure in the UK media. But celebrities such as Davina McCall and Dawn French have started to break down the stigma by talking openly about their experiences and interviewing other women to hear their thoughts too. This sharing of experiences nurtures an environment where others affected feel safe to open up about this previously taboo topic.  

No two menopause stories are the same. Some women transition smoothly, without any major effects. Others will suffer the most extreme symptoms and endure the massive, negative impact these have on their lives. My experience of menopause is unusual, but the end result is the same as what happens to every woman at some stage in her life.  

I had oestrogen-related breast cancer at age 35 and was put into medical menopause almost immediately by a drug called Zoladex. After chemotherapy treatment, I waited 9 months to be told that my fertility had vanished. It was a massive shock, as at the time of my cancer diagnosis, I had an 18-month-old son. So to be told I wasn’t able to have any more children was a pretty hard pill to swallow. I was advised to have an oophorectomy, due to my age and the complications with medical menopause injections for a prolonged period of time. So, at 37 I had my ovaries removed and was plunged into full menopause.  

One of the worst feelings in the early days was having very few people to confide in. None of my friends were menopausal and some of them were still actually having children. I hated myself for the feelings of jealousy that I had, wishing my life hadn’t been altered so massively.  

It took me many months to come to terms with losing my fertility. But as my menopause symptoms became more apparent, it somehow became more real and actually helped me process that there was no going back to the way things used to be.  

Accepting the reality has given me a new perspective on menopause. I don’t want others to feel isolated or out of their depth, so raising awareness and being available to talk about it is something I feel passionate about.  
I’m really proud to work for a company that is so progressive in their approach to menopause. From talking to others at events I’ve attended, I’ve found many companies in our industry have a long way to go. Launching our Menopause Policy last year put Waterman Aspen way ahead of the curve and now I’m delighted to have been trained as our company Menopause Champion, enabling me to provide a listening ear and signpost colleagues to access appropriate help.  

The profile of menopause has now been raised, but we need to keep talking. If you have a personal experience that you’d like to share, or offer some support to others, please get in touch. Hearing about how others feel can really raise awareness and encourage conversations.  

Menopause awareness isn’t just about supporting female colleagues going through a natural life transition. This topic affects all of us, so it is important to create an environment that values inclusivity, wellbeing and equality for all colleagues at Waterman Aspen.

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