Health: `Depression lifted and I could cope'

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Jackie Rossington, aged 44, she has been on HRT for seven years, since having a hysterectomy in her 30s. "For me six extra cases of cancer in women who have been on HRT for 10 years is still six too many," she said.

"I know so many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and it is always at the back of my mind. I am going to see my GP to ask whether I shouldn't reduce the dose. The longer I go on with it the more concerned I become."

Mrs Rossington, who is married with one son and lives in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, said she had started the treatment after developing early signs of the menopause following her hysterectomy.

"I was getting mood swings and panic attacks. It was like having my mind turned inside out - even the smallest thing felt like climbing a mountain. When I started on HRT I felt a lot better. The depression lifted and I felt able to cope."

After a year she switched from HRT tablets to patches attached to skin. "Suddenly I put on a lot of weight. I halved the dose but I haven't lost weight which is worrying."

Going on HRT was the right choice, she says, because it allowed her to pull her life together. But staying on it is a more difficult decision. "You have to weigh the pros and cons. Life is a gamble and you just have to make your own assessment of the risks and then cross your fingers."

"In a ladies group I went to, six women were picked up at breast screening, two had operations and one died. If it can happen to them, I thought, it can happen to me."