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Patti LaBelle

Super dynamo and singing sensation Patti LaBelle went into menopause 10 years ago. Now, at 56, with a new CD, a national concert tour, a new book, and a new television show all within one year, she's thrown the phrase "Finished At Fifty" out the window! Dr. Donnica and Miss LaBelle got together in New York City to talk about Patti's experience with menopause and how she approached what she calls her "graduation" into menopause.

"Graduation" into Menopause

Miss LaBelle:  Going through that period I cried a lot.  I cried all the time.  I didn't know why I was crying.  I would sing"Over the Rainbow" and I would cry the whole song.  And it hit me like that. . .I was a menopausal witch with a Capital B.  I cried all the time and I was very, very mean.  I was like a bad girl!"

Like many women, Miss LaBelle says she was successfully treated with hormone replacement therapy, or HRT.  Dr. Donnica asked her what effect she thought HRT had on her outlook:

Miss LaBelle:   "HRT has made a difference in my life in a positive way.  I'm a very, very, very nice person now.  I wasn't nice before. . ."

Dr. Donnica:  What do you think is the most important thing women should do if they're having menopausal symptoms?

Miss LaBelle:  "The most important thing a woman should do if she's going through menopause, or if she thinks she is, get a great doctor. . . someone that can help you through everything and put you on the right medication."

Dr. Donnica:  Did you follow your doctor's recommendations right away?  Many women have reservations about hormone replacement therapy; did you?

Miss LaBelle:  "I was resistant, at first, to use HRT because I thought that I might not be able to take my pills on time and everyday.  That was the only reason. . .It wasn't because of the myths or anything like that. . ."

Dr. Donnica:  Was your relationship with your doctor instrumental in helping you through your menopausal symptoms?

Miss LaBelle:  "My relationship with my doctor is the best.  That's why I'm taking HRT.  She told me how wonderful I would feel in three days after taking it. . .and I did. . .and I do feel wonderful!"

Dr. Donnica:  You have a strong family history of cancer in 3 of your sisters.  How did that affect your decision to take hormone replacement therapy?

Miss LaBelle:  "For women who are afraid of HRT because of family history. . .you shouldn't let that stop you from talking to your doctor."

Dr. Donnica:  You were also diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes soon after you went through menopause, weren't you?  How did you find out?

Miss LaBelle:  "Yes, I was diagnosed seven years ago with diabetes and I've been controlling it with Glucatrol and Glucophage. . .Since I've been diagnosed with diabetes I changed my eating habits.  I don't eat fried chicken now! 

I went to a doctor after a show one night.  I passed out, almost.  And I thought it was going to be something related to the show, but he came back and said "You're diabetic."  I said "Oh really!"  That's how I found out. . .I wasn't so shocked when he gave me the diagnosis because of my family-my mother died of diabetes and my uncle-it's in the family, so I knew one day I might get that.

Dr. Donnica:  What advice would you give to a friend who asked you about diabetes?

Miss LaBelle:  If I had a friend who was going to ask me about diabetes, I would let them know that it is controllable.  And if you have any doubts, see your doctor. 

Dr. Donnica:  What would you recommend to women going through unexpected symptoms like you were?

Miss LaBelle:   "If you're going through anything darling, I mean, check yourself before you wreck yourself.  Just get to a doctor".

Dr. Donnica:  I know you also had a bone density test to check for osteoporosis and you passed with flying colors. . .I know you feel strongly about women of color knowing about this test.

Miss LaBelle:  "It's very important for black women to get their bone density test, because we think that we can't get [osteoporosis], but we can!  Get yourself checked. . .check yourself or you wreck yourself."

Dr. Donnica:  Thank you Patti.  Is there anything else that you want women to know about menopause and aging?

Miss LaBelle:  "I feel so blessed to be going through menopause, because it's like a graduation for me.  My three sisters died before they turned 44 and they never graduated.  It's a wonderful thing to LIVE!!!"

For more information about Miss Patti LaBelle, her new CD, her national concert schedule, her upcoming book and her upcoming television show, go to www.PattiLaBelle.com.  For more information about menopause and hormone replacement therapy, click here.

Created: 5/3/2001  -  Patti LaBelle

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