How I Came to Understand my Fibroids
I was first diagnosed with fibroids in my early twenties. They were small and caused no issues so my gynecologist suggested that we leave them. I have never been a fan of hormonal birth control, so opted out of that as a treatment. Over the years my fibroids have gotten worse and at my last annual visit, my doctor suggested a myomectomy to remove them. I had four fibroids, one being around 10cm, another 6cm, and the remaining two were much smaller.
My gynecologist recommended me to a specialist, who walked me through the procedure and recovery. Because of the damage done to my uterus during the surgery, I would be unable to have vaginal births and would need a C-Section with every pregnancy. There is also no guarantee that the fibroids would not return. Western medicine takes a symptom-based approach, but they are not treating the underlying root of the problem. I decided that I would try a holistic approach.
Receiving the news that my fibroids had become this serious felt like a blow, even though my doctor wasn’t telling me anything that I didn’t already know. My periods had become much heavier and my fibroids are now visible in my lower abdomen. Fibroids run in my family, and Black women are 3 times more likely to develop fibroids than white women. We are also more likely to suffer from fibroids at a younger age than our white counterparts. But I was surprised to find out that I didn’t have more time. I always thought that I would have children before they needed to be removed.
Eastern medicine believes masses in the body such as fibroids are a buildup of stagnant energy and hormonal imbalance. Acupuncture is recommended to help the blood move throughout the body and herbs to start balancing the body’s hormones. I started on this regimen of acupuncture and herbs, and immediately noticed a difference with my cycle. My cramps were minimal, and overall my period became a minor inconvenience in my life. I changed my diet, decreasing the amount of meat I eat to maybe a couple of times a week and started doing castor oil packs.
As I continued my research and natural treatments, I began to think about the emotional baggage that I was carrying with me that could have led to the growth of my fibroids. It’s true that I had been in emotionally dependent relationships in my twenties. I have also juggled multiple jobs over the past years and some that have led me to absorb other people’s emotions. But this doesn’t explain why my fibroids are hereditary and why they affect black women at a higher rate. My research led me to the idea of generational trauma. I hadn’t given it much thought even though growing up in church I had often heard of generational curses.
In 2015, a study was done that studied the way trauma changes our body’s molecular structure and this can be passed down to our children and grandchildren. The study was done on the survivors of the Holocaust and they found that the trauma they experienced could be seen in the bodies of their grandchildren. While some scientists have debunked this study, I do believe that as black people the trauma our ancestors suffered through slavery has been passed down to us.
When a baby girl is born, she has in her tiny body all the eggs that she will lose and potentially fertilize over her lifetime. Our grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers suffered horrific abuse and their lineage was already inside their bodies. My family is of Jamaican and Guyanese descent and I believe that the pain inflicted through slavery has been passed down in the women of my family. To help my body release some of this pain, I started doing affirmations and telling my womb that it was ok, that she could let go, that she was safe.
One day while repeating my affirmations it dawned on me that I was lying. If I were to get pregnant tomorrow and give birth to a child, that child would be Black and that child would not be safe. Our children are still being killed in this country. The trauma is not done. This has been a painful realization and one that I am still not sure how to cope with. How did our ancestors go on in a world that didn’t want them to survive? How did they rationalize having children?
I believe that they had hope; hope that their children would not have to suffer the same way that they did. And while Black people are still suffering and dying, we have survived. Not only have we survived, but we have thrived. I believe that for us to break these generational curses we must bring the pain that we have suffered to light. And as Black people, we have been doing that for years, but now we need to do the work internally. Seek therapy. Don’t be ashamed as a Black woman to admit that you need help. When we do the work to heal, we allow others the same grace to heal as well. There is nothing shameful to admit the pain that we have endured, we endured at the hands of someone else.
More and more Black people have begun to talk about not only the brutalization that we have experienced but also the micro-aggressions that we experience on day-to-day. These micro-aggressions psychologists believe, can have the same effect on the mind and body as blatant racist acts.
But, change can only happen if we name our pain and bring it to the surface. As Black women, we must be intentional with not holding onto this trauma anymore. Whether that’s through exercise, meditation, healthy eating, or dancing. Moving our bodies in ways that are joyful helps our bodies to know that they are no longer under threat.
I am still on my journey with my fibroids. I have been trying to find another doctor who is Black because I did not feel that my desires and concerns were being heard by my current medical team. I may be advised to have surgery and that may be the route that I should take. One thing for certain is that I will continue to find ways to make my body and my mind feel safe. I hope that you will join me.