Hi, Quad here. You might recognize me from Bravo’s Married 2 Medicine or Sister Circle, but today I’m here to share my journey with uterine fibroids and the lessons I learned from my experience. Here’s the thing ladies, life gets busy, and we can so easily forget to check in with ourselves on how we’re feeling. I found myself in go-go-go mode and was ignoring a ton of signs and symptoms that something was wrong. I was struggling with lower back pain, lower abdominal pain, frequent urination, weight gain, and periods that were lasting half the month. Yes, I said HALF the month. My severe symptoms hung around for about a year before it became too much to bear. I finally went to my doctor and was diagnosed with uterine fibroids.
After I found out the cause of my symptoms, I was relieved to have an answer, but I also got scared. I had never had any medical issues in my life, let alone something that could need major surgery. So, this was a lot to take in, but with my severe symptoms, as much as I didn’t want to step away from my life, I knew I needed to take care of my body.
When I sat down with my doctor to discuss what to do, she gave me two options: a hysterectomy or myomectomy. Hysterectomy seemed extreme, I didn’t want to remove my uterus and completely lose my ability to have kids one day, plus I didn’t want to have that major of a surgery. With myomectomy, the more I learned, the more I realized I would be off my feet for 4-6 weeks, and I didn’t want to go through with that either. I liked my doctor, she was a great renowned surgeon, but I didn’t like the options she gave me. I realized it wasn’t her fault. She was telling me what she knew, but she couldn’t tell me about newer options that she didn’t know about.
Listening to my gut and determined to find an option that was right for me and my body, I started doing research. I talked to girlfriends, other physicians I knew, and searched the internet for answers. I had waited a year to listen to my body, but now that I knew what was going on, I was going to make my health my top priority and find the right option for me. This is when I discovered Acessa, a minimally invasive alternative to hysterectomy or myomectomy. It claimed to get women back on their feet typically within 3-5 days and allows them to keep their uterus. I know what you are thinking; this sounds too good to be true. I was skeptical at first, so I dug even deeper to find out how the procedure works. The Acessa procedure treats fibroids laparoscopically with heat with only two small incisions in the abdomen and near the bikini line. The heat destroys the fibroid cells, (think of it as going from a hard baseball to a soft marshmallow). This consistency change typically stops the symptoms the fibroid was causing. I was about ready to say, “Sign me up!” but first wanted to talk to my friend who is an OBGYN in Chicago who offered the procedure to his patients. He said his patients found it less invasive and less painful – and, most importantly, proven to fix the unbearable symptoms.
With this knowledge in hand, I set out to find a physician near me to get a consult to see if I was a candidate for the procedure. I looked on the Acessa website and found Dr. Soyini Hawkins right in Atlanta. After my first consult with her, I knew she was the right surgeon for me. Once we talked about the Acessa procedure and the specifics of my fibroids, it was a no brainer, Acessa was my best option. Now, for all my ladies currently seeking treatment for their fibroids, I want to say, Acessa may not be the right option for everyone. For example, there is no data on its impact on future fertility, so women who are seeking future pregnancy need to talk to their doctor about whether it’s the right option for them.
After making my decision to move forward with the Acessa procedure, it was time to tell my friends and co-workers. I was nervous at first because this is such a personal subject, but when I told my family on Sister Circle about the decision, the outpour of love and support was outstanding. I felt so much strength going into the procedure. In my heart, I knew I made the right choice.
The day of the procedure, even though I was afraid, I let that fear be my motivation to get through the day. To my surprise, it went even smoother than I could’ve imagined. They found seven fibroids, including two the size of grapefruits sitting on my bladder, and were able to ablate them all. The entire surgery took about an hour and a half, and I was in less pain than I anticipated. After the surgery, I took it easy, and just like Dr. Hawkins told me, I was back on my feet within a few days.
Today I am feeling great! All my fibroids have shrunk significantly, and my symptoms are gone. No more back or abdominal pain, frequent urination, weight gain, and my periods are only five days! I’ve learned a lot through this experience, but if I could offer advice or guidance to anyone on their journey with fibroids, or any health condition, it would be this:
- Listen to your body, and you don’t have to put up with terrible symptoms – fibroids grow and can get worse, you deserve to not suffer in silence.
- It’s okay to do your own research and get a second opinion – doctors only know what they know, just like all of us, so if it’s important to you to get a different procedure like it was for me with Acessa, it’s okay to go to another doctor. (We’re so loyal to our doctors like we are to our hairstylists! But surgery is a big deal, and it’s okay to shop around and learn)
- It’s okay to talk about topics “below the belt” – I feel like once I shared my story, so many others came out and told me they have fibroids too. When I told them about the procedure I picked, they felt a sense of “had I known…” We don’t want anyone to feel regret, but in order to spread awareness, we have to be brave and talk about conditions that affect “below the belt,” like fibroids.
All my love,