Meet entrepreneur and advocate Monica Molenaar. She’s the co-founder of Alloy, a telehealth platform that helps provide medical expertise and treatment to people experiencing menopause. At 40, Monica elected to remove her ovaries to reduce her risk of breast and ovarian cancers after testing positive for the BRCA gene. The effects of this procedure sent her into surgical menopause overnight.
Tune in to hear about Monica’s family history with breast cancer, the weight gain and lost sleep she experienced when she hit menopause and her struggle to get sound medical advice about hormone therapy. She talks with Christina and Robin about the various menopause treatments she tried and how she started Alloy in order to educate women and empower them to make informed choices about their treatment options.
Learn more about the nonprofit Let’s Talk Menopause: www.letstalkmenopause.org.
Download a symptoms checklist here (lista de síntomas aquí).
Check out Robin’s Comedy & Funny True Stories at www.robingelfenbien.com
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Thank you to Always Discreet for sponsoring this episode of Hello Menopause. Always Discreet because we deserve better.
Christine Maginnis (00:00):
Hey, friends. The views of our guests do not necessarily reflect the views of Let's Talk Menopause. Let's Talk Menopause does not provide medical advice. The content in this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions that you may have.
Robin Gelfenbien (00:23):
Are there certain times where you feel more irritated than others?
Speaker 3 (00:28):
When I don't get enough sleep.
Speaker 4 (00:28):
If I don't have a good night's sleep, I feel quick tempered.
Speaker 5 (00:30):
When you want to sleep is the time when you think of things that keep you up at night, so that is irritating.
Robin Gelfenbien (00:35):
What are some of the other ways that somebody can enter menopause that are not due to aging?
Speaker 6 (00:41):
Speaker 7 (00:42):
Traumatic life events,
Speaker 8 (00:43):
Speaker 9 (00:44):
Medically induced menopause. Hysterectomy, oophorectomy.
Robin Gelfenbien (00:48):
A lot of times when women reach menopause, they feel very liberated.
Speaker 10 (00:53):
I'm just so comfortable in my skin.
Speaker 11 (00:55):
After that, they become even more remarkable. They become wise.
Speaker 12 (00:58):
And it's funny because I have friends that aren't there yet and I'm like, oh my God, I can't wait for you to get there.
Christine Maginnis (01:07):
This is a low menopause podcast where you'll hear real menopause stories from real people.
Robin Gelfenbien (01:12):
Whispering behind closed doors? Not here.
Christine Maginnis (01:15):
And we promise it is not just in your head.
Robin Gelfenbien (01:17):
And you are not alone.
Christine Maginnis (01:19):
I'm your host, Christine Maginnis.
Robin Gelfenbien (01:21):
And I'm your other host, Robin Gelfenbien. Let's talk menopause.
Hey, everyone. At the top of the episode, you heard our menopause on the street segment. Now, for those of you who don't know, this is where I go out on the streets of New York City and ask people all kinds of questions about menopause. So Christine, what stood out to you in this montage?
Christine Maginnis (01:56):
The connection between poor sleep and irritability, and I'm not surprised, because I think we all know what it's like to feel like that super cranky individual when you're just so tired, you're not making much sense. But it was interesting to hear so many people say it that you think, oh yeah, we don't maybe make that connection too quickly.
Robin Gelfenbien (02:17):
Yeah. I think you're right. But it's so relatable with the woman who says the time you want to sleep is when your mind is racing, things are keeping you up at night. It's very, very understandable and annoying.
Christine Maginnis (02:31):
Yeah. I was pretty impressed with the person who knew the answer, who knew that oftentimes women can reach menopause beyond the normal age when they have either medical menopause or surgical menopause. So surgical menopause is when you have both of your ovaries removed, which has the name oophorectomy, which I find a little silly. Hysterectomy does not always mean that you have an oophorectomy. I think that's a radical hysterectomy, if I'm getting this right, is when you have your uterus and your ovaries removed. But that will slam someone into menopause. It's much harder because there's no transitioning time. There's not that period of the hormones going up, down, up, down. It's just one day you have them and the next day you don't. So it is a much more difficult transition for people who reach menopause through surgery. Or sometimes people can reach it medically. Let's say you're a cancer patient and you're going through chemotherapy or radiation, you can enter menopause. But the catch there is that sometimes you don't stay there. Sometimes when your treatment's over, you resume your normal cycles.
Robin Gelfenbien (03:39):
That's crazy. Women have to go through so much. So on a lighter note, when we were talking about all of the positive things that come out once you've reached menopause, I always talk about how I talk to all of these people, and I absolutely remember this man who says they're remarkable. Their wives. I'm like, they're kick ass.
Christine Maginnis (04:04):
Can I ask how old he was? Because I thought he must be an older man. He has the answers.
Robin Gelfenbien (04:08):
Yeah. I would guess he might be 70. Maybe late 60s. But he was darling and it was really nice to chat with him because I was happy to hear a male perspective on it too.
Christine Maginnis (04:23):
Right. I mean, this is our 12th episode and our final episode and our last man on the street of season one, and when I heard that, I thought, what a great way to wrap it up.
Robin Gelfenbien (04:36):
But it's just been really interesting to hear all of these different people, all these different walks of life, how they feel about the variety of topics that we've shared and what people know and what they don't know about menopause. There's some pretty stark differences. When you hear that woman who she's rattling off all the things, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, she's got the science book out. And I'm like, what are you talking about? And other people are hormones, transitioning. I don't know.
Christine Maginnis (05:09):
I like the pause. Hormones? Robin, do you think after doing this for the times that you've done it, do you come away with any takeaways?
Robin Gelfenbien (05:21):
I think the thing that surprised me the most was people's willingness to talk to me about it. I wasn't quite sure what I was walking into in. A way, maybe this is very idealistic or optimistic of me, I just think people are ready to talk about it and they understand the fact that women's health is so important and nothing will get done unless we start having conversations about it, and certainly with menopause. That's a huge part of it.
Christine Maginnis (05:52):
I'm so proud of you, Robin. That couldn't have been said better. Thank you.
Robin Gelfenbien (05:59):
Christine Maginnis (06:00):
And enough with us. Let's talk to our guest.
Robin Gelfenbien (06:08):
We are so grateful to speak with entrepreneur and advocate, Monica Molenaar. At the age of 40, Monica tested positive for the BRCA gene and elected to remove her ovaries to reduce her risk of breast and ovarian cancers. The effects of this procedure sent her into surgical menopause overnight. After a five-year journey full of misinformation and lack of clarity around menopause, she co-founded Alloy, a telehealth platform that helps provide medical expertise and treatment to people who are experiencing menopause. Here is our insightful conversation with the wonderful and whip smart Monica Molenaar.
Monica, we are so thrilled to have you here with us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you are today, and what your latest venture is?
Monica Molenaar (07:04):
My name is Monica Molenaar. I am, I guess at this point, a serial entrepreneur. I am born and raised New Yorker. I lived there for the majority of my 48 years, but I now live in Rotterdam, the Netherlands with my Dutch husband and two teenage kids. It's so nice to be here. I love Let's talk Menopause. It's such a great organization. We're really excited at Alloy to be partners with you guys.
I am the co-founder and co-CEO of a women's telehealth platform called Alloy. We help match women with menopause trained medical doctors and the solutions that they need to solve their menopausal symptoms.
Christine Maginnis (07:45):
Monica, I know you've said you're a believer in frank conversation, so I hope you don't mind that I'm going to dive right into the tough stuff. Both your mother and your grandmother had breast cancer twice. Your mom had it when she was just 36 and then again at 45. It really must have been so scary for her and for you. How old were you and what do you remember from then?
Monica Molenaar (08:10):
I was about 10. It was scary. I think I was kind of kept out of it for the most part, and to be honest, around the same time my parents got divorced or separated, and it took them eight or 10 years to actually get divorced. And so it was a pretty contentious situation, and the breast cancer part was less of an issue for me than the fact that my parents were no longer together.
Christine Maginnis (08:34):
Well, I think at 10 is probably hard to even comprehend scale of what you're talking about.
Monica Molenaar (08:38):
When it became more of an sort of a thing for me was when I turned 25, because that was 10 years before my mother's first incidence of breast cancer. And so that's when I started to be screened very carefully. But prior to that, and even actually subsequent to that, I mean, the fact is, my mother is still alive and she's nearly 80.
Christine Maginnis (08:58):
Monica Molenaar (08:59):
My grandmother also did not die from it. So it was something that was a part of my life and my sort of medical history that I needed to be aware of and attuned to, but it wasn't something that actually made me fearful.
Robin Gelfenbien (09:13):
So when you were 25 and you started having these screenings, what did that involve? And was that nerve wracking for you?
Monica Molenaar (09:20):
Mammograms and sonograms.
Robin Gelfenbien (09:23):
Monica Molenaar (09:24):
At 25, yeah. Every year. Every six months, actually.
Christine Maginnis (09:28):
I don't think most 25 year olds have that on their mind. So breast cancer was in your thinking.
Monica Molenaar (09:34):
But again, it was just sort of something that I had to watch out for, but for whatever reason, it didn't preoccupy me in fear. And I've spoken to many, many women at this point, and I think that the women who tend to be more fearful of breast cancer, if they have a family history, are those women whose mothers or grandmothers or close relatives have died from it, and I totally understand. It's a different situation. And frankly, breast cancer is a multifactorial disease. Not all breast cancer is the same. I mean, I've now been actively engaged in sort of studying menopause and estrogen and all these things for the last three years and I've spoken to so many experts, and even the experts don't know all the answers
Christine Maginnis (10:19):
Yeah. We're heading towards menopause. I think I want to lay the foundation for people listening, and we'll talk about this later, is that breast cancer history factors into people making the decision as to whether or not to use hormone therapy. So I've read the Angelina Jolie's 2013 op-ed, I think it ran in the New York Times, I actually remember it coming out. First of all, can you maybe tell our listeners what she wrote about and why it resonated with you?
Monica Molenaar (10:43):
Sure. So Angelina Jolie was also diagnosed with BRCA. Her mother also had breast cancer. And she decided to have a prophylactic ovariectomy and mastectomy and wrote about it, and also wrote about the experience of going into menopause, which frankly, at the time, resonated less with me. What resonated the most was actually the slew of articles that sort of came out in the aftermath of her being this brave, because at the time it was really, in particular for her, who's so associated with her looks and her body and her breasts and everything being perfect, for her to remove those perfect assets was a big deal so there was a lot of talk about it.
Christine Maginnis (11:28):
And to do so before there was cancer there.
Monica Molenaar (11:30):
Exactly. Exactly. And one of the articles that I read had a line in it. The line that really resonated was if you're BRCA positive and you have your ovaries removed by the time you're 40, so I was 39 at this point, then you reduce your risk of breast cancer by a further 50% and you eliminate your risk of ovarian cancer. And it was really the ovarian cancer and the specter of that risk that hadn't actually been as much on my doctors' minds or on my radar from a young age. But that was something that I just wasn't interested in getting or risking.
Christine Maginnis (12:08):
So when you read her column, you did not yet know you had BRCA. Is that right?
Monica Molenaar (12:12):
I didn't know. I had always been treated as if I had it, but I didn't know. And the reason why I didn't know is that I hadn't gotten tested at that point because there was nothing else that I could do beyond what I was doing except a surgical procedure.
Robin Gelfenbien (12:29):
You mentioned the BRCA gene. And for our listeners who don't know what that is, can you explain what that is, what the significance is, what the danger is with detecting that?
Monica Molenaar (12:40):
Yeah. Well, I got into this by having the problem, not by being a medical practitioner. And I've learned a lot, and I think at this point I've done so much research that I'm probably more informed than the majority of medical practitioners, but I am not a doctor. But there are two types of BRCA genes. BRCA stands for breast cancer. There's BRCA1, BRCA2. I'm BRCA1 positive. And BRCA2, I'm not an expert in BRCA2, but it's another type of breast cancer gene mutation from the norm that makes you more susceptible to getting breast cancer.
Christine Maginnis (13:16):
So you were faced with the decision of having your ovaries removed, or having a double mastectomy, or doing both, and you went with oophorectomy. Or nothing.
Monica Molenaar (13:27):
Christine Maginnis (13:28):
Yeah. So then you decided to have a bilateral oophorectomy, right? Both.
Monica Molenaar (13:32):
And my fallopian tubes as well.
Christine Maginnis (13:34):
So that's when the doctor started to talk about menopause.
Monica Molenaar (13:36):
Christine Maginnis (13:37):
Monica Molenaar (13:39):
No, nobody talked about menopause. That's the problem is that all of the effort and all of the discussions, everything was about avoiding breast cancer, and nothing was about managing my life once I had the surgery.
Christine Maginnis (13:55):
Wow. So you went in with your ovaries and you came out in what I call menopause on steroids because it is. You go from having all the estrogen you need to very little. What was that like?
Monica Molenaar (14:09):
So what was funny is that the surgeon, I had my surgery at Sloan Kettering, the surgeon said, I think I asked him, "Should I take hormones?" And he said, "Yes, you should. Especially at your age, you really need it to protect your body and your heart, your bones and your brain." But he said, "You still have some circulating estrogen in your bloodstream for the time being. So when you think you need it, when you feel symptomatic, you can get a prescription." And who the hell knew what the symptoms were? I didn't have hot flashes. So I've had hot flashes in my journey, but at the time, in the beginning, I did not have hot flashes. I didn't sleep through the night for six months and I gained 25 pounds and I felt like I was going out of my mind. I was exhausted all the time, I was irritable. I was taking care of two, not toddlers, but medium-sized children, elementary school children. My husband didn't really understand. I didn't understand. Nobody was really talking to me about what to do or giving me the confidence to understand that this was normal and I wasn't out of my mind.
Robin Gelfenbien (15:23):
And you probably didn't have friends you could turn to.
Monica Molenaar (15:26):
No. I didn't have anyone to turn to. So it was actually though my neighbor on my floor who saw me one day, we had a building's shared roof deck, and I was up there one day and she came over and said, "You look terrible. What's going on? Can I help you?" I mean, I've never seen you look this bad, basically. And I think I broke down in tears and I was like, "I had this surgery and I don't know what to do and nobody's helping me and I can't sleep, and my kids and my husband," and I just was a complete hot mess. And she was like, "Let me help you." And she connected me with her menopause provider, who was amazing and sort of got me help and what I needed. But the problem was, she prescribed compounded hormones.
Robin Gelfenbien (16:10):
What are those?
Monica Molenaar (16:11):
It's the same thing that we prescribe at Alloy. It's the same thing that are FDA approved, bioidentical, estradiol molecules mixed in a pharmacy that is not FDA approved, that is not covered by insurance, that is not quality controlled by a regulating body. And I had to send away for these prescriptions, but it was bloody expensive. I had a hard time adhering to it because each month I had to give my credit card and then I would remember, oh, it's $350 per month for this. And so I'd like, well, maybe I don't really need it and then I'd try to not have it and then I'd go back to not sleeping and feeling like crap. It was just this endless cycle. And then I sort of got into this zone of, I'll try anything. So I had pellets inserted. I tried Premarin, I tried patches, I tried pills, I tried cream. I mean, I have tried everything. And basically, at the end of the day, you know what I take? I take a generic estradiol pill and micronized progesterone pill, and that is what works and feels great and inexpensive.
Robin Gelfenbien (17:23):
Can I just say, you've got great neighbors.
Monica Molenaar (17:26):
I know. I'm a friendly person, so I make myself known in my buildings.
Robin Gelfenbien (17:30):
That's good. But when you were talking about pellets, you were taking pellets and Premarin, and I forgot the other things because it was just this whole cocktail of stuff.
Monica Molenaar (17:40):
Oh yeah. So Premarin is the type of estrogen made by Pfizer that is made from pregnant mare urine. So it's a conjugated equine estrogen.
Christine Maginnis (17:51):
Monica Molenaar (17:53):
yeah, horse pee, pregnant horse pee, that's made up of multiple different types of estrogen. It's off patent, but nobody will ever make it again because you have to literally maintain a farm of pregnant horses in order to get this drug. And for a lot of women, it's a bit of a bridge too far, although it's actually effective. And according to all of the studies, it's really not estrogen. This whole idea about estrogen giving you breast cancer is wrong and has been proven to be wrong. And in the study in 2002, the WHI study, that gave everybody this idea that estrogen gives you breast cancer, for women who had had a hysterectomy and didn't take progestin and only took estrogen, they actually had a lower incidence of breast cancer versus women who didn't take any hormones. And what they've since discovered is that there was a four out of 10,000 women increase in breast cancer as a result, or what they saw in the WHI, which made them decide to stop the study prematurely, very unfortunately. But it was the synthetic progestin that they administered in that study, that's not what's prescribed today, that's not what we prescribe at Alloy, was what was responsible for this additional four out of 10,000 women who got breast cancer.
Christine Maginnis (19:18):
So I'm going to jump in there to try to simplify it or make sense of it because that study has been so impactful. And I'm going to put this in a nutshell and I'll probably leave out a lot of important things. But so in 2002, the study came out and it basically said hormone replacement therapy is going to give you breast cancer. And it was almost overnight. It got a lot of media attention and then doctors stopped prescribing it. And ever since then, people are still afraid of hormone therapy. They're afraid of the connection to breast cancer. And I went into menopause at 35 and should have been put on hormone therapy right away. And doctors absolutely would not give it to me. I had one doctor who said, "Even if I wanted to give it to you," medical insurance wouldn't cover him. So doctors were very afraid to prescribe this any further and we're still dealing with the fallout from that.
Monica Molenaar (20:09):
It's so terrible. The part that really gets me is you were not given any choice in this matter. You weren't given a say. You weren't told exactly what the additional risk would be that you would be taking on. And that's the kind of thing that you should be able to weigh the pros and cons for your quality of life, what you need now and for the future, versus what the actual risk is and if they had been forced to say what the risk is.
Christine Maginnis (20:40):
So I am going to jump in and say, if you go back to after surgery, what do you wish doctors had told you? What would've helped you? Or if a woman is facing it today, what do they need to know?
Monica Molenaar (20:50):
I mean, I guess I wish that somebody had given me the prescription right away. In a funny way, the fact that they didn't has really sort of defined this next phase of my life. So I'm happy about it and I really feel activated by this topic and really sort of helping to make an impact in women's lives, so it's almost like it gave me my purpose. So I met my partner in Alloy Women's Health, which is an online platform for women really over 40 or experiencing perimenopause and menopause. We usually use over 40 as a proxy because a lot of women don't even know that they're in that perimenopausal phase at that age. But I met Anne in the summer of 2018. I was on vacation with my family in the North Fork of Long Island, and we got a dog. I finally agreed to get a dog. And we're on vacation in this place. We had rented a house. And who's the one who's out at 6:00 in the morning with the puppy? It's me. So vacation in quotes.
I'm out every morning at 6:00, 6:30, and so is Anne because she also has a brand new puppy. And so we meet each other with these puppies and we start walking and talking, and here we are. Nobody's around. We're chatting with the puppies. What are you doing with the rest of your life? I don't know. What are you doing with the rest of your life? And we just became fast friends. Our husbands liked each other, our kids liked each other, the dogs liked each other. Everybody was copacetic. And when we went back to the city in September, I called her up, she was the editor-in-chief of Marie Claire magazine, and I was like, "We had all these great talks. I'm thinking about what to do next and I really think that nobody is talking about menopause, and at the very least, we need to have a content site about menopause. And I don't know anything about content, but you do, so let's do that together." And she was like, "Yeah, but content is a really hard business, and I know all about that. I don't know about products, but you do. And I think we need to sell something or actually have a service that people will pay for if we want to have a business."
And so at first, we tried everything we possibly could do to avoid pharmaceuticals, to avoid hormones. Even though I was taking it for five years already by that point, and they had changed my life, we didn't think that we could get into that business. We didn't know what we were doing. So we were trying to find what are the supplements that have been studied, that are evidence-based, that really going to work, they're super effective? And we just couldn't find them.
The thing is that menopause has been turned into this very complicated situation when actually it's an extremely simple biological process. And so as we were going through this process of trying to figure out what's our angle? What are we going to do? One day Anne said, "Well, the only thing we know that works is estrogen." And we're like, you know what? If you're not talking to women at this age about estrogen, then you're doing them a disservice. And too few people are talking about estrogen. We know that this is the hardest path forward because there's so many headwinds, but it's so important because if you don't talk about estrogen and fix the estrogen problem, if you're symptomatic and you want to sort of enhance your quality of life for the next 30, 40 years, it's not that estrogen is the only thing, but without it, you are always going to be at a disadvantage. There's no way to solve a lot of the problems and symptoms that you're having without it. And that's a biological fact.
And it's safe, it's effective, and there are tremendous benefits, and there's so much effort and airtime talking about the risks and so little time talking about the very real benefits now and in the future. We just decided, you know what? It's not the only thing we're ever going to do, but it's the place where we need to start in order to give them the solution to feel good again. And it's so important.
Robin Gelfenbien (24:56):
Yeah. What are some of those benefits?
Monica Molenaar (24:59):
Reduction in various types of cancers, diabetes, heart disease. There's strong correlation that it does reduce your incidence of Alzheimer's and dementia. 70% of Alzheimer's patients are women. 70% of osteoporosis patients are women. And it's FDA approved to prevent osteoporosis, which by the way, if you break your hip, which is a pretty common occurrence for women, you have a 50% chance of dying within the next 12 months. That's important. Preventing that is really critical for your long-term health, sanity, quality of life, ability to stay active and do the things that keep you healthy, and that's the kind of life that I enjoy and I think that other women deserve.
Robin Gelfenbien (25:44):
Without question. So now, if somebody is interested in Alloy or they're going through perimenopausal symptoms, what kind of services does Alloy offer?
Monica Molenaar (25:54):
Basically, alloy is an online platform where we have menopause trained practitioners, medical doctors, MDs, reviewing medical intake. So you do a very short intake, a doctor, a menopause trained doctor, reviews the intake, and the intakes are based on the protocols set by the North American Menopause Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. So we're trying to increase access but also obviously do things according to normal standard practice of medicine. And it's for women who are feeling symptoms of menopause that would like to treat their menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms.
Christine Maginnis (26:32):
So Monica, is this a fair quick summary? You can come to Alloy, have a telehealth appointment with a menopause trained doctor, so you can do it over the internets.
Monica Molenaar (26:43):
Yes. It's asynchronous. Asynchronous telehealth visit means that you're generally on a video call or a synchronous video visit. You're on a Zoom where you can see the doctor and you're having a conversation one-on-one right then. That generally means video. It also could be a telephone call. That's synchronous. We're talking together. Asynchronous is I send you a message, you send me a message back. It's sort of texting back and forth. And what we discovered is that one, from a scheduling standpoint, from a technology standpoint, from a convenience standpoint, we want this to fit into women's lives in a way that works for them, that's not taking time out of their workday, that's not taking time away from their families, that really makes it easy for them to engage in their own self-care because we don't take care of ourselves until everybody else has been cared for.
And so if we make it easy, both for you and for the doctors, to be honest, because this new technology is really great, but it doesn't always work that well and no shows are a big thing. And so setting up the doctor office experience via telehealth doesn't work that well for anybody. It's a great idea, but it's not the future. And so our model is really designed to be more convenient, but still offer you the expertise, really scale the expertise. Because honestly, there's a huge math problem. There are 55 million women in the United States in some stage of menopause right now, and there are fewer than 1,000 trained or certified North American Menopause Society practitioners. So getting access to somebody who really knows what they're talking about and is trained in this and is passionate about this is not that easy unless you use technology to scale the access. And the feedback that we get in our Alloy member support groups is, how did I live this long without this solution? Why didn't I know about this sooner? And thank you so much for helping me and for listening to me and validating what I'm going through.
And a part of our expertise is creating content and really relating to women, and from a place of understanding, because we are suffering from the same things, we're having the same conversations with our doctors. Our chief medical officer, who's been an OB for 30 years, actually went to her own internist, and the internist said, "I see you're taking a menopausal hormone treatment." Dr. Malone is 62 or 63 now, and her internist said, "I'm not really a fan of hormones." And Dr. Malone said, "Well, then don't take them, but I'm not stopping." And actually, there are newly released 2022 protocols from the North American Menopause Society, which definitively say you do not need to stop after a certain period of time. That lowest dose for the shortest amount of time edict that was out there before that some women may have heard of is no longer. It's a personal choice. If it's helping you and you are asymptomatic and you want to stay that way, you can keep taking them. If you want to stop and your symptoms don't recur, then again, personal choice. This is all about women being able to have agency over their bodies and to make the choice that works for them.
Christine Maginnis (30:04):
Yeah. Okay. So I think we're down to our last question. And we've talked about some really heavy, important things, and I'm so glad to have you here to talk about surgical menopause because we haven't addressed that yet. But I'm going to shift it up, so I'm going to throw a curve ball and just ask. These days, what makes you happy? What makes you laugh?
Monica Molenaar (30:25):
I mean, honestly, doing this work makes me really happy. I've never been so excited, fulfilled. Our team is amazing. This is really my dream come true, to be able to do something that I'm passionate about, really make an impact for people, and doing this work makes me really happy and really fulfilled.
Christine Maginnis (30:44):
I can say I feel the same. We feel the same at Let's Talk Menopause.
Monica Molenaar (30:47):
That's amazing. And the other question was, what makes me laugh?
Christine Maginnis (30:50):
Monica Molenaar (30:52):
My dog is really what gets me the most. I mean, that guy. He's so cute. And I can always, no matter how stressed I am ... This is actually a funny thing. I never really wanted a dog, thought I would like a dog, always thought that it seemed like so much work. And we're all so completely enamored with this puppy. But what's great about it, I think, from a family dynamic is that we're always able to laugh. There's always something positive that the four of us can focus on that no matter what is going on in the world or in our family or whatever kind of stress there is, as soon as this little guy kind of walks in and gives everybody a lick, we're all laughing and happy. And that's, I'd say, my biggest joy at the moment.
Robin Gelfenbien (31:42):
That's sweet. I love the idea that you have these support groups for your members. I think that's fantastic. It also makes me think that you're passing on your neighborly duties.
Monica Molenaar (31:55):
That is exactly what we're trying to do.
Christine Maginnis (31:58):
Well, I am so sorry that this has to end, but it does. Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with Robin and me.
Monica Molenaar (32:05):
It was my pleasure.
Christine Maginnis (32:07):
So where can people find out about you? Throw out all your handles.
Monica Molenaar (32:10):
Okay. So we are MyAlloy.com, M-Y-A-L-L-O-Y.com, on the web, and also on Instagram. We've just been getting started on TikTok. Facebook as well. So we're on all those places.
Christine Maginnis (32:26):
That's great. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Monica Molenaar (32:29):
It was a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Christine Maginnis (32:38):
So Robin, that was great. What did you think about Monica?
Robin Gelfenbien (32:41):
Oh my gosh, I find her story so heartbreaking and also so inspiring. The fact that she talks about how she went into menopause overnight, and obviously she would probably really never want to relive all the hell that she experienced, but the fact that she can look at the positivity that came out of it, which is now she's literally paying it forward with her experience and helping other women through this really nerve wracking and confusing time in their life. So I just love that sort of duality to her story.
Christine Maginnis (33:21):
And we have heard from so many guests and so many different stories, it's inspiring to hear, I don't know, how women sort of get through these hard times. And I think a common message we hear is that you don't want to feel alone, you need more information, and we want to help other women not experience what we experienced.
Robin Gelfenbien (33:42):
Yeah. And the fact that there are so many great resources out there now, and we've heard about everybody's different stories, but there's also different ways that you can go about it. And so if anything, I feel like this has ended up being so empowering for our listeners.
Christine Maginnis (34:00):
Yeah. And I hope one of the takeaway messages is menopause, it is a natural process for some. Some enter menopause differently. It is so not one size fits all.
Robin Gelfenbien (34:13):
Not at all.
Christine Maginnis (34:15):
Hey, Robin, we said we were going to be loud.
Robin Gelfenbien (34:18):
Christine Maginnis (34:19):
Robin Gelfenbien (34:21):
Christine Maginnis (34:22):
I can't thank you enough for coming on this journey with me.
Robin Gelfenbien (34:25):
It's been my honor. You're getting me all verklempt.
Christine Maginnis (34:28):
I know. Me too.
Robin Gelfenbien (34:30):
And we've been working this for so long and it's-
Christine Maginnis (34:32):
A passion project.
Robin Gelfenbien (34:35):
Christine Maginnis (34:36):
Couldn't have done it with anyone else.
Robin Gelfenbien (34:38):
Thank you. Well, I really am honored. I've often said I feel like I'm one of the luckiest people on this project because I go out and talk to everyday people, so I just really get a good sense of what people know or, in most cases, don't know. And I'm glad that when it comes down to it, I'm just happy that we can help people.
Christine Maginnis (35:03):
Yeah, agreed. Life is a master teacher. This has been a voyage.
Robin Gelfenbien (35:08):
This is our menopause masterclass. But thank you. I mean, you've just guided this ship so well. I mean, you can just boil things down so simply. Well, with scientific terms. You're just like, here's what the BRCA gene is, here's what an oophorectomy. These words just flow out of your mouth and I'm like, I'm sorry. That just had eight syllables. Can you back up? What are you are you talking about?
Christine Maginnis (35:33):
I think I learned that from my decades as a middle school teacher. Let's put this in a nutshell.
Robin Gelfenbien (35:38):
Yeah. Well, you've done that and I feel like it's just the start of so many great things that Let's Talk Menopause is doing, so I think you should really applaud yourself.
Christine Maginnis (35:49):
Hey, listeners, thank you for coming along being part of this journey. Hope you learned something and we really hope that he had a few laughs along the way. If you have any questions about menopause, please visit LetsTalkMenopause.org to find out more information, see what your resources are. And please, keep sharing your stories.
Hey, listeners, if you enjoy this podcast as much as we enjoy recording it, we'd love it if you could help us out.
Robin Gelfenbien (36:20):
All you have to do is rate and review the show and it will help us reach more listeners. It only takes a minute and it makes a huge difference.
Christine Maginnis (36:29):
It really does. And if you want to follow the show while you're at it, we won't mind.
Robin Gelfenbien (36:34):
No, we won't. And don't forget to tell your friends to check it out too.
Christine Maginnis (36:38):
Our mission at Let's Talk Menopause is to give people the information they need so they can get the healthcare they deserve. Please visit our website at LetTalkMenopause.org for a wealth of menopause information, including a symptoms checklist, information about long-term health risks, how to navigate menopause at work, interviews with health experts and so much more.
Robin Gelfenbien (37:00):
A big thank you to Always Discreet for sponsoring this episode of Hello Menopause. Always Discreet, because we deserve better.
Christine Maginnis (37:08):
Hello Menopause is a production from Let's Talk Menopause Made in partnership with Frequency Media. I'm your host, Christine Maginnis
Robin Gelfenbien (37:16):
And I'm your host Robin Gelfenbien.
Christine Maginnis (37:19):
Ina Garkusha is our supervising producer and Alana Hurlins is our producer. Laura Boyman and Catherine Divine are our associate producers.
Robin Gelfenbien (37:27):
Sydney Evans is our dialogue editor and Claire Bidagari Curtis is our sound designer. Hello Menopause was concepted by Jessica Olivier, Jill [inaudible 00:37:37] and Becca Godwin.
Christine Maginnis (37:38):
This podcast is available on Spotify, Apple podcast, Google podcast, and wherever podcasts are found.
Robin Gelfenbien (37:45):
So check it out.