Before receiving my diagnosis of uterine fibroids in 2011, I assumed the pain from cramps and bloating I experienced regularly was normal. Despite having women in my family who battled fibroids—including my mother, grandmother, and my cousin— their journeys weren’t talked about publicly, and so I had no idea what they were, or how likely it was that I would have them in my lifetime. I soon learned that nearly 90% of Black women will have fibroids by the time they turn 50.1
In preparation for getting married, I went for a wellness check with my doctor who, after diagnosing me, recommended I get a hysterectomy or myomectomy for fibroid removal. At the time, I was not ready to undergo such an invasive treatment that required so much recovery time, so I decided to withstand the pain and discomfort until a later date. I figured I would wait until menopause to undergo such a procedure and would do everything in my power – such as increasing exercise, changing my diet, and other holistic methods— to avoid such severe intervention. As years passed, my abdominal bloat from the fibroids grew and grew, resulting in others thinking I was pregnant. Other women would even ask me when I was due. I found myself thrifting for maternity clothes and baggy outfits to avoid feeling as though I was on display.
It wasn’t until I was in a doctor’s office in 2018 when I found a flyer for the Acessa® procedure that everything just *clicked*. Though I was beginning to consider a myomectomy, the Acessa procedure was less invasive and fit my lifestyle needs. I was fortunate to be able to connect with Dr. Bruce Lee via a virtual consult and then worked closely with him before I received my treatment in Los Angeles in April, 2019. I elected to be seen by Dr. Lee because he was willing to work with me to arrange payment since at the time, I was uninsured.
Hysterectomies are invasive treatments that require weeks of recovery time, which I am not easily afforded as a flight attendant. With the Acessa procedure, I was able to receive treatment and return to my routine shortly after while I healed. My experience with the Acessa procedure was great: I woke up in the recovery room thanking God because when I initially laid down, it was with a belly full of fibroids, but waking up I finally felt free. It took some time for the fibroids to shrink, but this process taught me patience and to trust in the treatment because things do not happen overnight. My recovery journey has taken some time, but I am grateful for where it has taken me. It was such a relief to be able to buy clothes after my procedure. After many years, I was finally able to wear clothes that fit my new, slimmer figure, after not being able to for so long. The above picture of me in a polka dot dress is significant to my journey as it was the first purchase of clothing I made after receiving the Acessa procedure, and signifies the first major step along my healing process.
Despite how many women experience fibroids, not many find themselves talking about their journeys. For Fibroid Awareness Month, it is especially important for us to share our fibroid experiences to help each other—not just the women who are currently battling fibroids, but the ones who have yet to be diagnosed. Organizations like the White Dress Project, the Fibroid Foundation, and Fibroid Queen, are making sure discussions are being had about fibroids to help turn a light on for the millions of women who would otherwise be fighting in private. I am grateful to be able to work with these organizations to help other women and foster a community of support for when we all need it most.
Patrice Love, Acessa Patient
1. Sengoba, K. S., Ghant, M. S., Okeigwe, I., Mendoza, G., & Marsh, E. E. (2017). Racial/Ethnic Differences in Women’s Experiences with Symptomatic Uterine Fibroids: a Qualitative Assessment. Journal of racial and ethnic health disparities, 4(2), 178–183. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40615-016-0216-1
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION The Acessa ProVu system is intended to identify and shrink symptomatic uterine fibroids. The Acessa ProVu system is used by trained physicians during laparoscopic surgery under general anesthesia. Rare but serious risks of this procedure include, but are not limited to, infection, internal injury, blood loss and complications related to laparoscopic surgery and/or general anesthesia. This procedure is not recommended for women who are planning future pregnancy. This information is not medical advice. Please discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor to find out if the Acessa procedure may be right for you.