BITE: It wasn't ever something I thought would happen – going through Menopause at 27

In light of the recent UK Government’s rejection to protect the rights of people going through the menopause, Dark Horses Creative Artworker Lucie Simpson describes her journey with menopause and why it’s crucial we collectively work together to spread awareness and achieve more support within the workplace.

Lucie was diagnosed with breast cancer at the start of 2022 at just age 27. Part of helping to preserve fertility as she undergoes treatment meant that doctors have to induce menopause. Dark Horses CEO, Melissa Roberston introduced an open-source menopause policy in 2021 after experiencing it herself and recognising women need more support in the workplace. The news that the Government is refusing to acknowledge the severity of this issue has inspired Lucie to share her story and what it was like to be part of Menopause Mandate’s ‘It’s Beyond a Joke’ campaign at the end of last year. Lucie tells us of her unique experience of going through menopause at a young age, knowing that one day she will go through it again; and why she believes we need more education and awareness on the topic.


Could you describe your current experience with Menopause and why you personally want to educate more people on the topic?

Essentially medical professionals put my eggs to sleep as chemo only attacks active cells, so it should, in theory, leave them alone. With the eggs being asleep the body then thinks it is going into menopause. Monthly injections are given to keep the eggs dormant.

As women, I just don’t think we know what’s coming, how it affects every part of your life, from work to sex to mental health. My self-esteem just plummeted and I could identify why it was happening but couldn’t stop it. I found when people asked about my health I was always bringing the conversation back to menopause over cancer. And that is what everyone was more interested in because of the lack of knowledge. Distressfully I was going through it and still didn’t understand it 100%.


“Women’s health has been pushed aside for so long and it just can’t continue.” Lucie Simpson, Creative Artworker at Dark Horses


What did you know about Menopause before you went through it? Has anyone ever tried to educate you on it?

Honestly nothing, I went to an all-girls school growing up and even though every single person in the school would be going through it, we were never taught about it. Shocking really. My mum went through it about 15 years ago so I was too young to understand and think there was still such a stigma around it that she felt she couldn’t properly explain it.


What was it like experiencing menopause at a younger age and knowing you will go through it again later in life?

It wasn’t ever something I thought would happen/even knew it was possible to induce at a young age. Throughout my whole experience, I always said cancer is a walk in the park compared to menopause. Everything for cancer is laid out, you understand why everything is happening, any change in your health (even down to itchy skin or mouth ulcers) has a medicine to cure it. Menopause is the complete opposite, nothing is explained, it really takes a backseat. HRT is not prescribed either, due to hormones playing a big part in breast cancer. Understandably my experience is very unusual but explaining menopause to people my age and what would come was actually very rewarding. Not to downplay it but no one knows anything about it. Knowing I will go through it again is a very niche sense of doom.


What was it like experiencing the menopause rally first-hand last year on Oct 18?

It was fantastic, the whole campaign is really close to my heart (obviously!) and seeing people turn up to voice their experiences made you feel very connected to other women.


What did you learn/takeaway? What might you have changed?

There was a group of women who had peri-menopause, some as young as 25 – I had never even heard of peri-menopause so that was really inspiring to see them and know I wasn’t the only one to go through this. As HRT wasn’t offered to me or even mentioned, I’ve learnt about the benefits but also the shortages and misdiagnoses which is heartbreaking. I don’t think there is anything I would have changed, the speakers were all amazing and also having men in the rally was incredible.


How did you feel being involved in the recent powerful Menopause Mandate campaign, ‘It’s Beyond a Joke?’

I feel incredibly privileged to be part of it, the angle is amazing and so accurate. It is a joke. How can half the nation go through something that isn’t even talked about or addressed? Women’s health has been pushed aside for so long and it just can’t continue. Seeing all the celebrities getting involved as well has been great, and makes them into real people.


How has the Dark Horses menopause policy (and the general understanding of Menopause in the agency) supported you through this time?

The first and only menopause breakdown I’ve seen, explaining symptoms and causes. I have used references that Dark Horses sent me the whole way through menopause. It’s been much more extensive than anything the hospital gave me, which on reflection was nothing about menopause. There is also a mental health platform. Having my CEO go through it at the same time gave me so much confidence. If there was a day where the brain fog was too much or I just needed some extra support I knew I could go to her.


Was talking/education/understanding of menopause something you noticed in the industry before you had it?

No not at all, this is my third job and the only place I’ve ever even heard menopause mentioned. It is also the first place with a female CEO / upper management. As tragic as it sounds, older women I think can be a little forgotten in the workplace and therefore menopause just isn’t seen as a major issue. It’s the dated view of: men work and women stay at home that just doesn’t apply any more.


How do you think other businesses can give more support and education of menopause to women?

There is just isn’t any education around it, full stop. It is hard enough for women to understand menopause, let alone men, how can workplaces support  it when (most likely) over half of the workforce is in the dark. The taboo-ness surrounding it as well makes it hard to get people talking. I think getting professional/speakers in for sessions, having a menopause policy, information leaflets, sick days if necessary. It’s hard to grasp the idea if it isn’t happening to you (men and young women).


Lucie Simpson – Creative Artworker

Lucie has been working as a designer for the last 5 years, currently at Dark Horses, a creative agency which specialises in sports advertising. At 27 she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and as a result was put into early induced menopause. She has been juggling work, illness and menopause over the last year.