July 3, 2023

Donna Klassen, LCSW

Donna is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 30 years of experience. Her areas of practice include trauma, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. In addition to her private practice, Donna served as admissions and clinical director at The Motherhood Center of New York from 2017-2020, and has held supervisory roles at SUNY Stony Brook, the Jewish Board of Children and Family Services, and Safespace.

At 52, Donna was diagnosed with estrogen-positive breast cancer. During pre-mastectomy testing, two large cysts on her ovaries were discovered, which necessitated an oophorectomy (the removal of her ovaries), prior to her double mastectomy. Before these surgeries, Donna had experienced irritability and joint pain as part of perimenopause. Post-surgeries, she was put on an aromatase inhibitor, a drug category that blocks estrogen production and greatly reduces the risk of cancer recurrence. She immediately became postmenopausal and began to drown in symptoms—hot flashes, exhaustion, irritability, brain fog, and heart palpitations. She was disheartened that even her gynecological oncologist failed to offer any medical guidance around medically or surgically induced menopause. But Donna knew that she needed help and she knew how to get it. She assembled a support system to address her physical, psychological, and emotional needs. In this process, she grew increasingly aware of how important—and how uncommon—such support is for women, regardless of how they enter menopause.

‍Through her work as a clinician and director at The Motherhood Center of New York, Donna experienced the impact of education, community, and public awareness on illuminating shrouded issues such as infertility and postpartum depression. She saw first-hand the life-changing—sometimes life-saving—effects this advocacy had on lifting stigma. She knows the same work needs to be done to push menopause out of the shadows and into the light.