It was either late 2002 or early 2003 when I learned I had a uterine fibroid. I went to the doctor about the heavy bleeding and bad cramps I suffered monthly. I remember it clearly, the doctor said, “Oh, the tumor is probably bigger.”
“What tumor?” I asked with some concern.
Instead of answering me, the doctor just looked at me with wide eyes and left the room. I then remembered having an ultrasound some years prior to the 2002/2003 visit, but I don’t remember anyone explaining to me that I had a fibroid tumor. There had been no discussion about options for management or healing.
It was at the latest appointment that the option of hysterectomy was mentioned. Given I was tired, physically and emotionally… that various family members had had hysterectomies… and that I was over 40 with a child who was 17… I shrugged and planned for surgery. With no upcoming plans for my uterus, my main concerns were how long would I be off work and how I would pay my bills. Once those issues were squared away, the surgery was set for late March 2003.
On the day of the surgery, my grandmother, sister, daughter, and cousin Melva were at the hospital to support me. I was shaking off the effects of the anesthesia, when Melva announced, “They had to take one of your ovaries. The fibroid was so big it was fused to it.” I recall something about a grapefruit, but I can’t remember which ovary they took.
Even now the language of “taking” the uterus and ovary causes me to feel some kind of way. Had I known earlier about the fibroid, could I have done something differently to shrink the tumor or at least delay the surgery? Not knowing about the fibroid somehow denied me a choice. While I fully understand the decision to “take” the ovary, there is a feeling of loss. Again, a loss of choice and a loss of knowing.
Since my daughter was diagnosed with a fibroid in 2017, I’ve read that several women are dealing with the condition. Thankfully, assisting these women are more physicians offering options other than hysterectomy. It’s the options for me!