What moms told me about their migraines

What moms told me about their migraines

By Melissa

One of the amazing things about sharing my migraine journey with all of you is that I learned that I am absolutely not alone.  After I first shared, I heard back from so many moms who, like me, really suffered with migraine—missing out on work and fun, not being able to take care of things at home and taking medication that didn’t give relief.

To make it a little more ‘scientific’ we polled our newsletter subscribers and posted about it on Instagram.  87 moms who identify as migraine sufferers responded and the results were fascinating!  The results confirmed that migraines have a significant impact on respondents’ ability to function as both a mom and an employee.  

We also learned that 75% of migraine sufferers who responded to our poll have experienced nausea or vomiting with migraines, and for some this interfered with their ability to take oral medication.  

And listen to this—nearly 9 out of 10 (!) are not “very satisfied” with the treatment they are using, and just about 76% of respondents reported being ready to talk to their doctors about non-oral treatment options.  

Like me, a lot of you have had to cancel plans because of migraine.  How many?  More than 85% have had to cancel plans with family and friends, and nearly 90% say migraine has prevented them from performing daily household activities.  Nearly 60% have missed work due to migraine.  

Now I shared that I used to take over-the-counter (OTC) medication when a migraine struck. Until I talked to my doctor, I didn’t know that I had choices, let alone a choice that wasn’t a pill!   Our poll found that, once again, I wasn’t alone.  While 86% of respondents take OTC medications or prescription medications to treat migraines, 78% of respondents were not aware of prescription nasal spray treatment options to treat migraines.  

Here’s what I did:  like most of you, I wasn’t satisfied with how I was treating my migraines. It wasn’t sustainable for me to have to retreat to a dark room for hours when they struck. I finally talked to my doctor.  Based on the results of our poll, I suspect many of you are also interested in talking to your healthcare provider about migraine medications that don’t require swallowing.  If you don’t mind a little mom to mom advice, all I can say is make the time and do it, talk to your doctor. My visit was eye opening.  I learned that all migraines are different and that I could build a toolkit to treat them.  I learned that a nasal spray can be helpful on the days when a migraine with nausea/vomiting means you simply can’t take an oral medication. 

Thanks to all of you who participated in this poll, we do better and learn more when we do it together.

This poll and post were sponsored by Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC but the experiences shared are my own.


Tosymra® can cause serious side effects, including heart attack and other heart problems, which may lead to death. Stop Tosymra and get emergency medical help if you have any signs of heart attack:

  • discomfort in the center of your chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
  • severe tightness, pain, pressure, or heaviness in your chest, throat, neck, or jaw
  • pain or discomfort in your arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • breaking out in a cold sweat
  • nausea or vomiting
  • feeling lightheaded

Tosymra is not for people with risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure or cholesterol, smoking, overweight, diabetes, family history of heart disease) unless a heart exam is done and shows no problem.

Do not use Tosymra if you have:

  • history of heart problems
  • narrowing of blood vessels to your legs, arms, stomach, or kidney (peripheral vascular disease)
  • uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • severe liver problems
  • hemiplegic or basilar migraines. If you are not sure if you have these, ask your healthcare provider.
  • had a stroke, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or problems with blood circulation
  • taken any of the following medicines in the last 24 hours: almotriptan, eletriptan, frovatriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, ergotamines, or dihydroergotamine. Ask your provider if you are not sure if your medicine is listed above.
  • are taking certain antidepressants, known as monoamine oxidase (MAO)-A inhibitors or it has been 2 weeks or less since you stopped taking a MAO-A inhibitor. Ask your provider for a list of these medicines if you are not sure.
  • an allergy to sumatriptan or any ingredient in Tosymra

Tell your provider about all of your medical conditions and medicines you take, including vitamins and supplements.

Tosymra can cause dizziness, weakness, or drowsiness. If so, do not drive a car, use machinery, or do anything where you need to be alert.

Tosymra may cause serious side effects including:

  • changes in color or sensation in your fingers and toes 
  • sudden or severe stomach pain, stomach pain after meals, weight loss, nausea or vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, fever
  • cramping and pain in your legs or hips, feeling of heaviness or tightness in your leg muscles, burning or aching pain in your feet or toes while resting, numbness, tingling, or weakness in your legs, cold feeling or color changes in one or both legs or feet
  • increased blood pressure including a sudden severe increase even if you have no history of high blood pressure
  • medication overuse headaches from using migraine medicine for 10 or more days each month. If your headaches get worse, call your provider.
  • serotonin syndrome, a rare but serious problem that can happen in people using Tosymra, especially when used with anti-depressant medicines called SSRIs or SNRIs. Call your provider right away if you have: mental changes such as seeing things that are not there (hallucinations), agitation, or coma; fast heartbeat; changes in blood pressure; high body temperature; tight muscles; or trouble walking.
  • hives (itchy bumps); swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • seizures even in people who have never had seizures before

The most common side effects of Tosymra include: tingling, dizziness, feeling warm or hot, burning feeling, feeling of heaviness, feeling of pressure, flushing, feeling of tightness, numbness, application site (nasal) reactions, abnormal taste, and throat irritation.

Tell your provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. These are not all the possible side effects of Tosymra. For more information, ask your provider.

This is the most important information to know about Tosymra but is not comprehensive. For more information, talk to your provider and read the Patient Information and Instructions for Use. You can also visit www.upsher-smith.com or call 1-888-650-3789.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088. 

Tosymra is a prescription medicine used to treat acute migraine headaches with or without aura in adults.

Tosymra is not used to treat other types of headaches such as hemiplegic or basilar migraines or cluster headaches.

Tosymra is not used to prevent migraines. It is not known if Tosymra is safe and effective in children under 18 years of age.

Tosymra is a registered trademark of Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC.

June is Migraine Awareness Month: Here’s what I’ve learned.

By Melissa Gerstein

I started getting migraines after the birth of my third. I got the kind of headaches where I had to stop everything and go to a dark room. I lost whole days and missed important family moments and even some holiday activities because of them. But since I first shared my migraine journey when I partnered with Tosymra (sumatriptan nasal spray) 10 mg, I have learned so much. And one important thing is that I am not alone. Migraine impacts nearly 40 million people in the US!

Now, we did a survey asking about your migraine journeys, and we’re going to be sharing the results soon. Check back, they are REALLY interesting. But I have also gotten a lot of questions since I first started sharing my story, so because June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, I thought I’d answer a few here. Just a reminder, I am not a healthcare provider, I am just sharing my experience.

Q: How do you “Mom” with a migraine?

At first I didn’t. I really just had to shut myself away until the episode passed. And I don’t have to tell you with three kids who all need something at all times, shutting yourself away isn’t a long term solution!

I wanted relief, but I didn’t know it was possible. When I finally talked to my healthcare provider, I learned that there are a lot of migraine treatments available and that I didn’t have to suffer through migraines. I could, and should, treat it. To begin with, a popular treatment was the rising pain relief solution that is CBD, and many use it for different types of illnesses. I considered it and had a little look online for the products that are available. I was able to buy CBD oil, gummies, creams, vape liquids, anything I needed or thought would be best for me. It opened my eyes, to be honest! The same can be said for THC, which is very similar, but CBD but has very mild psychoactive effects (essentially a slight uplifting effect on mood). There are delta 8 THC carts for vapes, as well as oils and gummies and so on as well. However, I decided the first time opting for treatment, I’d go for something a little closer to home and in my immediate area. Then I would be able to start off easy and work my way through the different treatments that worked best for me. So my pain relief journey began.

I’ve built myself a migraine treatment toolkit and I am ready.

Q: What have been some of your symptoms? Any nausea/vomiting?

I learned that no two migraines are the same. Sometimes I have a headache that feels like a tiny man with a pick is trying to dig his way out of my head. Other times it is centered in my eyes. And, yes, sometimes I experience nausea and vomiting.

Q: What have you tried? What works?

I’ve used OTC medications in the past, but one thing that meets my needs as a busy mom is Tosymra . It is a convenient nasal spray for acute migraine treatment in adults that may be able to help, especially if you need a non-oral treatment option – like for those migraines with nausea. I have experienced migraine pain relief in as little as 10 minutes! So helpful for those days where I have a lot to get done!

Again, this is what has worked for me, and all of us have different migraine experiences. Some of you might find getting CBD or delta 8 thc online to be quite helpful for its therapeutic qualities. Each person is different, so talk to your healthcare provider to see what would work right for you.

Q: I think I have migraine, what should I do?

Take care of yourself and go talk to your healthcare provider. I wish I had done that much earlier. I suffered for years and when I finally talked to my GP I learned that a person with migraine in 2021 has many treatment options, and it is important to build a treatment toolkit that meets your needs. I can’t say it enough, no two migraines are the same. If you are looking for more information about acute migraine treatment, there is a helpful discussion guide on Tosymra.com you can bring to your healthcare provider to start the conversation.

Tosymra (sumatriptan nasal spray) 10 mg is a prescription medicine used to treat migraine attacks in adults. It’s not for migraine prevention. Tosymra is not for everyone. Do not use Tosymra if you have heart problems, narrowing of blood vessels or uncontrolled high blood pressure. These are not all the reasons not to take Tosymra. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if Tosymra is right for you.

The most common side effects of Tosymra include: tingling, dizziness, feeling warm or hot, and application site reactions in the nose. These are not all the possible side effects of Tosymra. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more.

For full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information and Instructions for Use, click here: https://bit.ly/2GanBcG

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Tosymra but the experiences shared are my own.

Why You Should Check on What The Right Time is For Your Doctor Appointments During Covid!


I partnered with AstraZeneca to develop this blog post. 

How many doctors do you have? How many of those have you seen in the past year? It’s hard to believe, but I have 10 different doctors who I see at least once or twice a year.  My son said to me the other day, after looking at my reminder board, “You’re the healthiest, sick person.” I laughed before I said, “Well, except that I’m not technically sick anymore, and that’s because I’m the CEO of my health.”  

I’ve learned over the past few years to keep notes like this where I can see them. It’s easy to get confused by different portals and logins but keeping track of doctors and appointments can make all the difference. It is even more important these days, as we have all become so accustomed to staying safe at home. But staying away from checkups and routine visits, especially if you have delayed a recommended cancer screening appointment, can be risky.  

I typically schedule my mammograms and annual cancer and breast exams for every February and March. Fortunately, I recently read the news that said women should schedule their mammography either before their Covid-19 vaccination or four to six weeks after. Because I have been so on top of my health, delaying my visit slightly shouldn’t have any effect for me, but of course, everyone is different. As vaccination appointments open up, make sure to remember your recommended cancer screenings and ask your doctor what course of action is best for you!  

I’ve thought a lot this year about how cancer prepared me for Covid-19 and Quarantine. I continued to stay safe and even wore masks long before they were glamorous and shiny. I rocked robes and gloves and washed and sanitized.

I recently met Dr. Kirstamarie through my partnership with AstraZeneca’s New Normal, Same Cancer program, a public health initiative to raise awareness about recommended cancer screens during the pandemic, and shared a few questions that I believe will be helpful to you.


If a patient is concerned about going to  a Dr appointment, how would you ease  their anxiety about the protocols you  are taking to keep everyone safe?  

Dr Kristamarie:  

In light of all of the changes over the past year, our health and the health of  our loved ones are what matters. As we  have learned more details during this pandemic, I have been able to  implement a few protocols to help  protect patients so they can continue  to receive care. Our practice has been following safety guidelines set by the  CDC and the city’s department of  health. Additionally, we transitioned a  large majority of visits to provide virtual visits for people to still receive the care  they need, but from the safety of their  homes. For any home or work consultations, we make sure the  appropriate precautions are taken (using appropriate screening questions)  and wearing appropriate personal  protective equipment. 


We have heard from recent expert opinion that vaccination side effects can include enlarged lymph nodes and  mirror signs of breast cancer. Besides  trying to schedule screenings before  the first vaccination dose or 4-6 weeks after your second dose, if possible.  What else should cancer patients know about staying safe during these times?  

Dr Kristamarie:  

It’s important that patients don’t put off recommended health care and treatments. Skipping appointments or  delaying them may lead to other issues down the road. I would encourage patients to reach out to their providers to see what precautions their hospitals and offices  are taking to ensure their safety. It  may also be helpful to ask friends or family for help with certain errands (such as grocery shopping) to decrease time spent around large crowds depending on what part of the country you live in. Patients should continue to wear face coverings when out in public, maintaining distance when appropriate, and discuss whether vaccination is an appropriate option for their specific case. If there are concerns about any new or unusual  symptoms, please don’t hesitate to get tested or to discuss with your providers.  


Should cancer patients take extra steps to continue to stay safe?  

Dr Kristamarie:  

It’s essential to continue making healthy lifestyle choices that will  support immune health while keeping the body strong. Getting adequate sleep, incorporating a healthy diet full of vegetables and fruits, and reducing stress are some ways to help maintain  health. Staying up to date with  recommendations from providers and reputable organizations such as the CDC can also help ensure that you are staying safe.  

Dr Kristamarie:  

What special actions or precautions have you taken to ensure that you are staying safe during the Pandemic?


I’m continuing to monitor public health guidance as different areas start to reopen, and only doing so with caution. I have stayed masked and kept to my “pod.” I don’t eat indoors with anyone other than my immediate family who I live with and my pandemic-blended family, which includes my ex-husband, his wife, her ex-husband and their kids. That’s our “family” because the kids go back and forth so it’s as if we all live together.  

We all wash our hands constantly, get tested if we think we may have been around someone who tested positive and quarantine if any of us were  exposed. I’ve started to double mask if I go into a market or store and wear gloves as often as possible and keep up to date with the latest public health guidance on how the virus is affecting my own community.  

Dr Kristamarie:  

How have you been staying up to date with your own healthcare needs and screening tests during this time?  


I keep a list of all of my different  doctors as shown above. I have many  annual or biannual appointments  because of my cancer journey and my  side effects. My oncologist, my  surgeon, my radiation oncologist, my rheumatologist, my ophthalmologist, my dermatologist, my gynecologist, my endocrinologist, my gastroenterologist and my dentist. I  keep notes on when to follow up. The portals do a really good job of reminders but I have a few different portals! So, this list keeps me organized.  

Dr Kristamarie:  

Have you had to visit your healthcare provider in person during the Covid-19  Pandemic, and if yes, how was your experience? Did you feel as though your healthcare team prioritized your health and safety and if so, could you share how they did this?  


Yes. At the beginning, I didn’t and  luckily my mammography and my oncology appointments are typically in March, so I had just seen them when  everything got bad in 2020. I was slightly late on some of the others due to the pandemic but luckily, I see so many year-round who take many blood tests and check levels that I felt  like I was still in the realm of “on time”. I’m just about all caught up  now and it feels great! We all have  enough to worry about health-wise  these days and catching anything  early can save your life. I know, because I did.  

AstraZeneca sponsored this blog post.

Hugs with 98 Year Old Grandma

My 98 year old Grandma in assisted living hadn’t had a hug in over a year! Wait until you hear some of the conversations and special moments we all shared with my Grandma! It’s truly incredible and we are so grateful for the science that made this all happen! We hadn’t been inside with my mom without masks in over a year. Our recent trip to Ohio in this incredible Outdoorsy RV Van brought so much love and joy along with the most amazing conversations. #brighterdaysahead. CLICK HERE TO WATCH.

5 Year Cancerversary Brings New Questions

Are you counting down the days until New Year’s Eve? 2020 has been a difficult year for so many of us. I often feel reflective in December. I use this time to reflect on the past year and plan for the new one. For me, this year, it’s my most important year since I was diagnosed.  For me, this year will be crucial.  This year is my 5 year mark from diagnosis.  There’s so much that comes with that but especially the questions surrounding one of the medicines I’m on.  I’m on an aromatase inhibitor, which is like insurance.  It’s supposed to help make sure my cancer doesn’t come back.  Traditionally, doctors prescribed this medicine, for my kind of cancer and treatment for 10 years.  But as is always the case with science and medicine, there are always advancements.  

This time, it’s Breast Cancer Index™.  Breast Cancer Index is a simple test that will let me know if there’s any benefit to me staying on this medication for 5 more years.  I’ve learned about Breast Cancer Index in the past 6 months and am serving as an ambassador for this test.  I’ve always only agreed to partner with companies that are meaningful to me and that I believe in.  After learning and writing and sharing for the past few months, it’s time for me to decide what to do.  I’ve spoken to my doctor about it and she was aware of it.  She said we will talk about it at the 5 year mark but her inclination is to keep me on the medicine since I don’t have side effects.  But it’s a good topic to discuss.  How do you know when you want to listen to science, try something new and perhaps take fewer drugs?  I’m almost at the time to make a decision and I think I will take the test.  It would be good to have more information.  I don’t know yet what I will do with the results, but I’m thankful for advancements, for science and for Breast Cancer Index.