There’s a common ailment that unites a specific group of people that not enough people are talking about. There’s no time like the present to start the discussion with the hope of bringing about positive solutions.
Fibroids are benign tumors of muscular and fibrous tissue, typically developing in the uterus. This epidemic disproportionately affects more than 80% of Black women, which is particularly alarming when it comes to maternal health and mortality. In honor of Fibroid Awareness Month, the Fibroid Fighters Foundation hosted an elaborate evening filled with education, community, and necessary conversation.
On a warm Thursday evening (July 28), several people gathered at Empire Steakhouse in Midtown Manhattan to amplify the voices of those wronged by the U.S. healthcare system and to provide treatment options to those with the condition. Among the hosts were master marketer Miss Diddy, celebrity makeup artist Kym Lee King and actress Cynthia Bailey to discuss the unspoken horrors women, trans-men, and non-binary individuals suffer through in silence.
Bailey, who first opened up about her 14-year struggle on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, arrived on the red carpet, hopeful that her story could continue to save lives. “Although I’m now older and am in pre-menopause, I no longer suffer from fibroids, but I did have the UFE procedure and I am a Fibroid Survivor,” Bailey disclosed to BET.com.
The Uterine Fibroid Embolization Procedure (UFE) is a surgery in which the blood supply to the tumors is blocked, causing them to shrink. “I think a lot of times women, unfortunately, end up getting hysterectomies because of fibroids and there are so many other choices. That’s one of the biggest things people need to know,” said Bailey.
Miss Diddy, who’s also a fibroid survivor, reveals she had a different kind of procedure that led to some relief. “I had my myomectomy surgery at the end of February 2022 and it has been a really tough recovery,” explained Miss Diddy. This particular procedure is necessary to remove uterine fibroids, which could occur at any age. “As you go through it and you really are a part of it, you learn about the support you want to give to the women dealing with this. It’s almost like you’re in a world alone outside of everyone else who might be going through it. So I want to make sure I’m showing my support… whatever I can do to further awareness, especially to what goes on with Black women in the health system.”
As guests filled up the lower restaurant area, Fibroid Fighters Foundation founder Dr. Yan Katsnelson offered a charismatic welcome, informing everyone that his center exists to empower women with information and minimally invasive options using the latest technology. Soon after, the evening's hosts introduced a lineup of speakers who were there to share their stories, including Hot 97’s TT Torrez and the first Black-woman voted in as Bronx borough president, Vanessa Gibson, who was there to honor Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. It was Clarke’s focus on women's healthcare that led to securing millions of dollars to support the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Uterine Fibroid Research and Education Act of 2021. This bill ensures that Medicare and Medicaid databases include services and programs for women with fibroids.
The men in the room also shared encouragement, including Lee’s husband Pastor Dant’e King, who delivered an emotional speech recalling his wife’s struggle. People with fibroids usually experience heavy or prolonged periods, bleeding in between cycles, pelvic or lower back pain, and bladder or bowel symptoms, often making it difficult to lie down, work out, or even bend over without discomfort. Support is important when physical discomfort transfers into emotional pain.
Since many of the debilitating symptoms are unknown to so many, finding a doctor to even listen to a complaint is a challenge. Not every physician is educated in the nuances of types of fibroids, let alone how to properly treat them. A common thread shared throughout the evening was the difficulty in finding a medical professional willing to take their pain seriously. Miss Diddy, who also suffered from endometriosis, mentioned the horrifying risks no one could be prepared for, while filmmaker Melissa Muganzo Murphy highlighted xenophobia, transphobia, and homophobia in hospitals.
Understanding that safe and affordable options exist is a matter of life or death. The Fibroid Fighters and their many advocates ensure every womb is protected and connected to doctors who are there to help. It’s time to take back control of menstrual health so that people can have the opportunity to start families and live pain-free lives.
For more information on the various treatment options available, visit the Fibroid Fighters here.