I am one of the millions of women who are affected by fibroids. I was diagnosed with fibroids — smooth muscle tumors that form in the uterus — in 2001 at the age of 30. From that moment on, I began a 14-year battle to overcome fibroids, the resulting infertility and a litany of other medical challenges. The road to my healing was a long and grueling one that included:
- 10 surgeries — five of them for fibroids
- 5 in-vitro fertilization cycles
- 1 heart-wrenching miscarriage
- 120+ days combined in the hospital
- A high-risk pregnancy that resulted in my unborn baby fighting the fibroids that were siphoning off her blood supply at 21 weeks in utero
- My heart stopping on the delivery table
- And, thankfully, Nia, our miracle baby, being born at 2.5 lbs and 14 inches!
Photo by Carey Bradshaw Photography
While our family enjoyed a storybook ending, my heart aches for families who are still fighting fibroids and infertility. The fibroids epidemic affects tens of millions of women. One study found 70% of White women and up to 90% of Black women will develop fibroids by age 50. Many of these women have their personal and professional lives derailed by infertility, hemorrhaging, life-threatening anemia, debilitating cramps, embarrassing incontinence and so much more.
Having experienced these symptoms, here are three critical things that help me:
- A low-estrogen diet: Given the known links between estrogen and fibroids, I worked with my naturopathic doctor to eliminate the estrogen from my nutrition plan. This means I converted to an organic, plant-based diet void of pesticides, sugar, processed foods, soy, wheat and rice, and rich in non-GMO wild fruits and vegetables such as mangos, melons, kiwi, Lacinato kale, grape tomatoes, sweet peppers, butternut squash, purple potatoes, shelled hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, black lentils, red bananas and so much more!
- Zero-tolerance for toxicity: I believe in the mind, body, spirit connection of healing, so I went on a quest to detox my spiritual, physical and emotional life. For me, this means eliminating negative people from my intimate circles, cultivating a mindset of self-love and acceptance, choosing all-natural toiletries and beauty products, and more.
- Exchanging my stress for rest: Stress is how our brains and bodies react to the pressure we experience as part of our fast-paced and demanding lives. In response to this reality, I engage my “Double E Strategy:” Establish healthy boundaries and Embrace my limits. This includes:
Making Today Count: I focus only on the three or four things each day that will have the greatest impact on my overall vision and goals. This means getting comfortable saying “no” to other people’s last-minute projects, as well as learning how to accept and recognize what is and is not in my control.
Mindfulness: I pause several times daily — at least once every two to three hours — for a mindful minute of silence. It also includes prioritizing prayer as part of my daily ritual to release my cares and concerns.
Movement: I engage in mind and body practices that involve gentle movements and postures with mental focus, breathing and relaxation.
Mandatory fun: I prioritize people, things and activities that fill me with peace and joy.
I cannot imagine what my life would be like today if I’d allowed the pain of my process to stop my pursuit of motherhood. One of the greatest lessons learned on my journey of healing was that I had to stop being superwoman and start prioritizing my spiritual, emotional and physical health. It’s time you do the same.