Joy Comes in the Morning: My Battle with Fibroids, Ovarian Cysts and Endometriosis

Psalm 30_5-3

Excitement ensued when I read this month’s issue of Essence. On the cover was a special health report which addressed the issue I’ve been dealing with over the past year. Since my surgery, I battled with telling how this very issue affected my quality of life. After reading the article, I knew it was time.

The article, Fighting Fibroids, tells the story of Tasha Mitchell. When she decided at 26 to stop taking her birth control pills, it unleashed a multitude of health problems. I was just like Tasha. Starting at a young age, I suffered from painful menstrual cramps and seriously heavy periods that no medication in the world could cure. After years of taking the pill, I took a stand. I wanted to feel like myself again.

For a while, everything was fine. I dealt with the pain every month and I thought I got my life back. But one day I felt the worst lower abdominal pain ever. The world began to shatter like I was in some alternate universe. After a series of tests and two emergency room visits, I was diagnosed with having uterine fibroids. At that very moment, my fight began.

In the Essence article, I read about a Mayo Clinic study of women ages 29-59 with fibroids. Elizabeth Stewart M.D., the study’s lead author explained, “The study also suggests that Black women have a harder time getting a diagnosis, good information about treatment alternatives and a solution.”

I was 23. After multiple trips to the doctor, it seemed I couldn’t get any valid information about my fibroids. Forget a solution. I was only given a pamphlet about my newfound condition and possible treatment options. Since I wanted to have children, there were only a few options available. My actions and my feelings were reduced to this pamphlet. Any symptoms I had, if it was not in the pamphlet, didn’t exist at all. I often found myself questioning if the pain and the significant blood loss was real. Just a few weeks earlier, my doctor told me the reason he chose to become a physician was to help women with fibroids. I lost confidence in him.

Soon after, I began to feel worse. An ultrasound revealed I had an ovarian cyst on my right ovary – a complete let down. One cyst turned into several on both of my ovaries and small activities such as walking became a challenge.

As time passed, the pain became relentless. My fibroids drained any life I had and I didn’t know why. When I looked in the mirror, I started to become unrecognizable. After weeks of confusion and more tests, one of my cysts ruptured. The ER doctors sent me home after yet another frustrating night. There is nothing more devastating than a doctor telling you he is out of options. I thought I was going to die.

My only solution was to undergo hormone therapy and stop my reproductive system all together. I went through a medical menopause. I had night sweats, hot flashes and debilitating migraines. The series of injections caused serious adverse effects aside from the usual side effects and it affected my brain function. Not to mention taking more medication to cure the side effects. I went from just getting by to being completely broken. At one point, I could no longer feel. I was numb to my situation. A spinal tap and a blood patch later, I said enough was enough.

I sought a second opinion and was also referred to some infertility specialists. The first one denied my case. She said she couldn’t help me. I appreciated her honesty. By the time I talked to the second one, I stopped all medications. He recommended surgery to remove the fibroid, and to see if I had endometriosis. I was diagnosed with a moderate form of endometriosis after the surgery.

The misunderstanding about my experience was the lack of information available about the cause of these conditions and preventative measures. I wanted to be proactive, but didn’t know how. What can I eat? What can I do? I was left with nothing. The only way I knew how to deal with it was just as the women who came before me did. You get the surgery and move on, because life doesn’t stop.

A few people told me all women get fibroids at some point in their lives. It was just a way of ushering me into womanhood like some rite of passage. And because so many of us get diagnosed, these health issues become acceptable. We carefully wrap our issues, put them away, and fiercely protect them. We fail to talk about it, because it’s too painful. I was amazed at the amount of women dealing with these complex issues. I had no idea until it was my turn.

I hoped, prayed and wished; and wished, hoped and prayed; and prayed, wished and hoped for answers. I never got them. All I could do was try to take control of my health. But in order to take control I had to recognize my worth. I was conditioned to put everyone else before me just like my mother and my grandmother. They took care of everyone and everything until it was nothing left for them. I had to realize I was enough. I had to know that I mattered too.

Now at six months after surgery, my life is full of the unknown. Am I confident that I will be able to have children one day? No. Am I confident that my fibroids, cysts and endometriosis won’t grow back? No. But that’s the beauty of walking by faith. I’m more than overjoyed that Essence decided to continue the conversation. It gives me hope.

Seven ER visits, two biopsies, countless doctor visits, ultrasounds, surgery and an extended hospital stay can sum up my story. It’s not a testament to how I got over, but it’s a story about God’s power working through me. If He can fix me, He can fix you too. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Published by

Jennifer Branison

Who knew taking a simple Journalism class in high school would lead to the start of a career full of endless possibilities? Jennifer Branison is a Writer, Producer and Content Creator. She is certainly not one who waits for future opportunities. She creates them. Through her work with award-winning companies such as: BET Networks, CBS-affiliate WTOC-TV and WSSJ, she has developed excellent skills needed to thrive in the ever-changing world of media. With the creation of her new blog Candid Commentary, Jennifer muses daily about her experiences with topics ranging from women’s health to pop culture.

12 thoughts on “Joy Comes in the Morning: My Battle with Fibroids, Ovarian Cysts and Endometriosis

  1. An amazing testament to Gods love and faithfulness!!!! He does exceedingly, beyond we can ever ask, think, dream or imagine. In our greatest heartache and pain, he stands ready and willing to show us the true power of his majesty. Watch him unfold that mystery in your life!!!!

  2. It takes so much courage to let others into the most painful and vulnerable time in your life, especially as a woman since we’ve placed the most unreasonable weight on ourselves of being superwoman or superhman, appearing to be able to take all of life’s blows in a dress with a smile. Your transparency is brave and completely inspiring to me and any other woman who will read this blog and learn that it’s ok to talk about our challenges to bring awareness and spark the necessary conversations that should be had about our health and wellness. I can’t wait to read more! Keep it up hun!

  3. Amazing story..such strength in you to go through all that and still sing of His praises..like you stated so much of the future is unknown but when your hope is on God there is room to be amazed…He gives only what you can handle and clearly knows you are STRONG ENOUGH..

    P.S. when you get a chance if you haven’t heard it yet listen to Strong Enough by Matthew West

  4. First I must say how very proud I am of you for your bravery and transparency! Even though I was privy to a lot of this information while you were dealing with it, I now truly see the seriousness of it all. I admire your courage and strength and know this will bless many woman! Keep writing and sharing your story! Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story (Psalm 107:2, TNIV)

  5. Wow. I had no idea you were dealing with so much. This is a situation that I do think many women, especially women of color find themselves in. I am glad Essence brought this story to the masses. It was very brave of you to put your story out there but it needs to be heard. I know that God only gives us what we can handle. Hopefully the surgery will be enough but every challenge forced us to find our faith. I will definitely continue to pray for you. God has His own plan for you. He doesn’t make mistakes.

    AOML ❤

  6. Thanks for sharing Jennifer. I think we often times forget that we’ve got to put ourselves first especially when it comes to our health. Ironically, if we aren’t taken care of, we can’t really fully attend to those around us as we’d like to.

    Also, not to mention this is really encouraging with for me with my own battles.

  7. […] Mother’s Day weekend last year marked a pivotal moment in my very short life – my health scare. A few months before, I started taking hormone therapy as a solution to treat my uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. It was even used as a diagnostic tool for suspected endometriosis which I address in my previous blog post: Joy Comes in the Morning: My Battle with Fibroids, Ovarian Cysts and Endometriosis. […]

  8. Praise God for your victory! And, your journey is not over. I believe God with you that you will one day have your desired miracle babies! 🙂 Read “My Fertility Journey” in the same May issue of ESSENCE linked on my website at http://www.gessiethompson.com! #WECANWEARWHITE #HOPEBEYONDFIBROIDS

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. I read “My Fertility Journey” when I heard your interview with Jacque Reid on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Your story is truly a testament to God’s power working through you, and it definitely gives me hope. Keep reading Candid Commentary as I continue to document my journey. If there is anything I can do to help the movement and The White Dress Project, please let me know. I believe there is a purpose behind my pain. #WECANWEARWHITE #JOYCOMESINTHEMORNING

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