At 68, Lise Fox learnt she had diabetes. On the A1C test, where the glucose levels of a healthy person would be recorded as 5.7 per cent or lower, she reached 9 per cent.
Despite that, she refused the medication doctors offered. Instead, she started exercising six days a week at Evolutions Health & Fitness Centre and Energize Wellness Solutions. She also sought guidance from Sara McKittrick of the Bermuda Diabetes Association.
“I was pleasantly surprised that six months later my A1C went down to a 6.9,” she said. “I was over the moon.”
It is not the first time she refused medication and did things her own way.
In her early fifties, doctors suggested hormone replacement therapy to help her through the anxiety, irritability and memory loss brought on by menopause. She opted for Estroven, a dietary supplement she found in a health food store.
“That worked for me but didn’t work for other women I knew,” she said. “Everyone is different. I can remember one day just crying because I couldn’t remember which way to turn the knob on the stove — it was silly things. My husband wanted to do a picnic on the beach. I worried about it for a full week beforehand. Then I said I just couldn’t handle it. It was just too much.”
She was then a junior accountant working towards her CPA designation.
“Studying for it affected my blood pressure to the point where I started to worry about my health,” she said.
“I’d study and study all week and then during the test I’d draw a blank.”
She gave up and retired at 53, but was able to joke about it all on a night out with girlfriends going through the same experiences.
She went home and wrote two pages about menopause and how it had affected her; friends encouraged her to write more.
Out of that, the Menopause Gang newsletter was born. The first edition ran in 2001. With the help of Bermuda Cancer & Health and four female writers, it published four times a year giving 600 readers around the world information about life after the end of the menstrual cycle and other women’s issues.
“I’d never done any writing before, but it seemed to come naturally to me,” said Mrs Fox, who is now 69.
The newsletter has since been scaled back to twice a year, which gives her more time for another passion, knitting.
“A few years back, I decided to make baby blankets to give away,” she said. “Then it progressed to asking family and friends if they would like a throw blanket and in what colour. I’ve been knitting blankets ever since. I can’t sit and watch TV without doing something with my hands. I find it relaxes me.”
Mrs Fox was born and raised in Montreal, Canada.
Her father, Alphonse LeBlanc, worked for the railroad, drove a taxi and cleaned furnaces. Her 96-year-old mother, Jacqueline, was a homemaker.
At 22, Mrs Fox went on holiday in Europe with two girlfriends.
“While on the tour, we met a Bermudian lady called Rita Berkel who was travelling with a 12-year-old, Roxanne Daniels Lorenzen,” she said. “We befriended them because poor Rita was having trouble getting around, so we took them under our wing.”
At the end of the trip, Mrs Berkel invited the women to visit her in Bermuda. In 1974, Mrs Fox and one of her girlfriends took her up on her offer.
“She lived with her sister in Somerset, but advised us that she couldn’t put us up due to her sister having family visiting,” she said. “She recommended we stay with Roxanne’s family in St David’s, which we did.”
It was there she met Edmund Fox, her future husband.
“Roxanne was his niece. He took me out and we hit it off. I came back to Bermuda for visits and he came up to Canada to see me.”
The couple married the following year and celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary on December 20. They have two children, who both live in Canada, and four grandchildren.
The Menopause Gang publishes in January and June every year. Copies are free and available from the Woodbourne Chemist, Collector’s Hill Apothecary and through firstname.lastname@example.org