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3 Blood Transfusions before she was 30: Fibroids have been a part of Jasmine’s life from age 11
Jasmine’s brother is ten years her senior. It took that decade for her mother to get pregnant again, due to fertility issues caused by fibroids. Jasmine’s entry to the world was quickly followed by her mother’s hysterectomy, in her attempt to live a better life, being rid of uterine fibroids for once and for all.
Recognizing fibroids early
At 11, Jasmine got her first period. As many women do, Jasmine just figured that the copious bleeding and utter exhaustion she felt each month were just part and parcel of menstruation and “being a woman”. It was when she came home from school one day, weakened to the point of being unable to get off the couch, that her mother took her directly to the hospital.
There, the first suspicion was that Jasmine’s symptoms were connected to a potential appendix problem, but that was quickly ruled out. Lab work came back showing extreme anemia, necessitating Jasmine’s first blood transfusion. Feeling like she was stuck in a horror movie, the poking and prodding continued as more tests were performed, moving Jasmine from the emergency room to the gynecology department.
2 weeks later, test results were back: 11-year-old Jasmine received a diagnosis of uterine fibroids.The treatment options on offer at the time were myomectomy or fibroid embolization. Terrified of surgery, Jasmine selected the embolization, which would cut off the blood supply from at least the largest (grapefruit-sized) fibroid. Unfortunately, she left that procedure feeling a high level of pain that she describes as “horrifyingly awful”.
Medical options: When Plan A wasn’t enough, Jasmine moved to Plan B
Life was supposed to go on. Which it did, but not for long. Jasmine was 12, her hormones were of course, raging, and unknown to her, those hormones were actually feeding the fibroids. By 13, the bleeding and exhaustion were right back where she was pre-embolization. The fibroids were back, and Jasmine made the pained decision to go for that myomectomy after all. More than anything, she needed to be past this.
A number of the larger fibroids were removed, but to allow her fertility to remain intact, some of the smallest growths remained in place. Jasmine was Jasminefully pronounced “Post Fibroids”! The doctors didn’t expect them to grow back and neither did she. The pain-hope-victory cycle seemed to have finally come to a stop.
Jasmine’s knowledge helped her advocate for herself
Until about four years ago. At age 26, they were back. The super-heavy periods, the extreme exhaustion – Jasmine’s symptoms returned. Her GP put her on iron supplements to help stem the anemia, listened to her history, paid attention to her well educated guess that the fibroids were back, and handed over a referral to a gynecologist.
New gynecologist, new scan, new fibroids. And they were huge. Another myomectomy. But this time, it was different. Jasmine had recently relocated to take care of her ailing mother and then Mom passed away. This was a surgery that Jasmine would have to get through without her mother, and it was hard.
That was three years ago. Since then, Jasmine got married, and family planning became a relevant topic. A compliant patient eager to move forward, she followed directions and waited a year following surgery to attempt to conceive a child. She returned to the hospital for a quick check to receive her all-clear… but the visit didn’t go according to plan.
The fibroids are back and Jasmine is examining her options… again
This was only a few weeks ago. The doctor doesn’t believe that Jasmine can now conceive naturally and even if she were successful, it would be scary and dangerous to attempt to carry a pregnancy while she is in this condition.
Jasmine and her husband are now in a race-maze of research and options. Unfortunately, this research project can only be very brief. Options seem to mostly cover freezing eggs so she can try IVF or a surrogate.
Possible hysterectomy at age 30
Jasmine and her husband want to become parents, but this isn’t going to come easily. It will be a tedious, difficult project that needs to be managed. Jasmine is working on gathering information, strength and resources for the journey ahead of them.
Doing her best to look forward, Jasmine is bewildered. She wonders out loud, why, out of all the gynecological issues women can have, does no one seem to know anything real or practical about fibroids? She feels a need that attention be shed on this topic, to direct doctors to get real information more easily and to establish a support platform where women can talk about these things and the challenges they present.
Cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and kidney disease have massive knowledge bases and support networks. What about fibroids?
Without even her mom to lean on or talk to, Jasmine asks that for herself and for all the others out there suffering: Let’s get some research done. We need information, answers, options and support. Jasmine says, “Please, go make it happen!”
Here at Women Talking Fibroids, we enthusiastically applaud Jasmine for taking charge of her health, and encourage our entire community to turn to their local doctors to do the same.