This story was written by Chris Craft of Nao Media and medically reviewed by John Lipman, MD. Craft is not a trained physician and does not give medical advice in this article. Please consult a qualified medical professional with any questions.
“Sometimes it’s hard to see what you have in common,” Alivia Brooks says as she reflects on her early relationship with her mother, Alesia Brooks. Alivia admits that they are both “kinda bossy.”
Alesia agrees. However, as Alivia got older, she realized that she and her mother shared a connection that was deeper than their similar personalities.
What bonds them closer is their shared struggle with uterine fibroids. Both women experienced debilitating menstrual cycles during adolescence. After visits to numerous doctors and multiple invasive procedures, extensive research led Alesia to Dr. John Lipman and the Atlanta Fibroid Center for the Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) procedure.
Leaning on her mother for advice and guidance during her own journey, Alivia also became one of Dr. Lipman’s patients.
The Journey and the Turning Point
As a young girl, Alesia had agonizing periods but didn’t know the root cause of her pain. Diagnosed with uterine fibroids at age 30, she knew why she experienced painful symptoms, but only found relief while on birth control or during pregnancy. After almost two decades of managing her symptoms and monitoring her fibroids with her OB/GYN, severe problems flared up at age 50.
Alesia recalls the incident that encouraged her to seek an expert’s help. While driving a rental car during a work trip, Alesia felt her legs “sweating.” Once she got out of the car, she immediately realized that she was bleeding and rushed to find a place to change her clothes. She said to herself, “there is no way in the world I’m going to live my life like this when I don’t have to.”
She thought about her quality of life if she did nothing and chose to wait it out. “I couldn’t imagine having to keep a change of clothes in my car.” She knew she had options and made the decision to deal with her condition on that work trip.
Alivia’s journey with fibroids starts off similar to her mother’s story. She dreaded going to school because of her horrible menstrual cycles. Due to her symptoms, she started taking birth control in her early teens. It provided moderate relief. She built up a high tolerance for pain and just lived through any discomfort.
A year after Alivia’s first pregnancy, her symptoms intensified. She began having “gushing accidents” and knew something was wrong. Alesia referred Alivia to the OB/GYN she’d seen for over 30 years. The doctor repeatedly told Alivia that nothing was wrong, but her symptoms persisted. At this point, her mother tells her about her struggle with fibroids.
Equipped with this knowledge, Alivia gets an ultrasound that confirms she has uterine fibroids. Unaware of fibroid treatment procedures outside of hysterectomy and myomectomy, Alivia opted for a myomectomy. Her doctor did not present her with any other options.
Unfortunately, after the myomectomy, her fibroids returned. Alivia felt discouraged. Her doctor hadn’t given her a lot of information about her condition. She wanted to have another baby and thought, “who wants to [live] like they’re dying every month for four days?”
A History of Shared Experiences
The Brooks’ experiences with the devastating effects of uterine fibroids didn’t begin with Alesia. She recalls a time during her late teens when her father picked her mother, Margaret, up from work after a “gushing incident.” Margaret ended up in the hospital and underwent a partial hysterectomy as a result.
Despite the seriousness of her condition, Margaret never discussed her condition with Alesia or her other children. No one talked about fibroids back then.
Later on, Alesia learned that her mother wasn’t alone. Many of the women in her family silently suffered through the pain of uterine fibroids. She knew other women who struggled with fibroids until they reached menopause. She didn’t want that to be her story. She didn’t want to perpetuate the idea that women need to suffer in silence and wait for the pain to resolve itself. She also didn’t want to undergo surgery to remove her uterus.
Alesia taught Alivia to advocate for herself and led by example while on her journey to treat fibroids. Armed with her own personal experience, a lot of research, and the determination to improve her health and quality of life, Alesia worked with Dr. Lipman to find relief from her symptoms through UFE.
Her commitment to her health led to Alivia’s healing as well.
The Life-Changing Effects of UFE
A true godsend, the UFE procedure changed both Alesia and Alivia’s lives in immeasurable ways. After enduring a failed endometrial ablation and an open myomectomy with other doctors, Alesia sought a premier physician–an “expert of experts.” Alivia wanted an alternative to hysterectomy or getting “cut open” again.
Both mother and daughter found the non-surgical experience they needed at the Atlanta Fibroid Center with Dr. Lipman and the AFC staff.
Alesia refers to Dr. Lipman as one of her angels. “He was experienced at what he did,” she says. “He looked at me as somebody who deserved to have excellent, great treatment and that’s what he gave me. Nothing less.”
Everything went smoothly for Alivia before, during, and after her UFE, too. During her appointments, Dr. Lipman explained what fibroids are and how diet affects them. He gave Alivia realistic expectations about the outcome of the procedure. The wonderful staff assisted her through every step of the process and continued to support her while she recovered at home.
Beyond the medical benefits of UFE, Alesia and Alivia now have peace of mind. Alivia has renewed energy and can enjoy outings and travel without fear of severe fibroid symptoms wreaking havoc on her plans. The non-invasive fibroid procedure gave her the chance to try and conceive again–an option that would have been impossible with a hysterectomy.
For Alesia, UFE made fibroids a “non-issue.” Before the procedure, her fibroids robbed her of joy. The fibroids felt like “lingering monsters” that “physically, mentally, spiritually” drained her and could attack at any moment. Now, Alesia feels good about life and can move forward without the fear of fibroids getting in the way.
A Closer Relationship Between Mother, Daughter, and Women Everywhere
Many women go through the pain, discomfort, embarrassment, and fear of living with uterine fibroids. Unfortunately, some women continue to suffer without confiding in anyone else. “Human beings just want to show the best of themselves and the best of what’s happening from afar,” suggests Alesia.
She hopes that sharing her experience from a mother/daughter perspective gives other mothers the courage to delve deeper into discussions of reproductive health with their own daughters.
Alivia echoes her mother’s sentiment. “It’s important to show our connection because it all starts with your village, your home.”
Sometimes in the black community individual health issues are kept secret or passed off as insignificant. However, successful outcomes often come from sharing information. When women have access to more information, they have access to more options.
Help Is Available at Atlanta Fibroid Center
If you are experiencing any symptoms of uterine fibroids, like noticing a stomach bulge, along with heavy menstrual periods, pelvic pain and/or pressure, you will want more information about uterine fibroids and UFE.
Contact Dr. John Lipman of Atlanta Fibroid Center by calling 770-953-2600 or making an appointment online.
About Chris Craft
Chris Craft is a follower of Jesus Christ. He lives in the Atlanta area with his wife Wanda and their three kids. He enjoys writing and content marketing — combining the two disciplines as the founder of Nao Media and publisher of InspireFirst.com.