Sisters Brenda Lewis and Dorothy King-Curry may have different stories, but they’ve come to the same conclusion: you don’t have to live with fibroid tumors. “I waited too many years,” Brenda says. “My fibroids were leaning against my bladder and my situation just got worse.” When Brenda first saw Briana Walton, MD, urogynecologist at AAMC’s Women’s Center for Pelvic Health, she was having problems with incontinence.
“She came to me with overactive bladder symptoms,” says Dr. Walton who is a specialist in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. “I knew she had fibroids. They were a fairly small size, so we discussed using the robotic assisted surgery along with reconstructive repair at the same time.”
Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow within the wall of the uterus. While they are rarely cancerous, they can cause uncomfortable symptoms like lower back pain, pain during sex, enlargement of the lower stomach, frequent urination and reproductive problems.
Brenda received minimally invasive surgery to remove her fibroids, which cured her incontinence without disrupting her life. “Being that I had the robotic surgery, my recovery time was much less than it would have been,” she says. “The next day I was home and I was going up and down the stairs.”
And after the surgery, Brenda was able to live her life uninterrupted. “Before surgery, going anywhere was a burden because of my bladder.”
For her sister Dorothy, robotic surgery wasn’t an option. Because of the size of her fibroid tumors, she required a hysterectomy. “Dorothy had very large fibroids and it was nearly impossible for us to utilize any form of minimally invasive surgery,” says Dr. Walton. “She required an abdominal incision in order to deliver this very large fibroid that she had.”
“Before the surgery, I looked five to six months pregnant,” says Dorothy. “My clothes felt uncomfortable and I struggled to exercise.”
Having the fibroid removed immediately alleviated Dorothy’s pain and discomfort. She says it was the same relief that comes with delivering a baby. “Once the baby is out, you’re fine,” she says. “That’s how I felt. I didn’t have any pain. I think after three weeks, I was up walking around.” And shortly after surgery, Dorothy lost 15 pounds and became more physically active again.
Brenda, who lives in Laurel, Md., and Dorothy, a Delaware resident, say they’ve lived within driving distance of each other for the past 24 years. “We do practically everything together,” says Dorothy.
“My sister is my best friend, so going through this together was truly a blessing,” says Brenda. “We both knew what the other was going through.”
“Don’t wait,” says Brenda. “Fibroids don’t go away on their own.” Dorothy agrees. “Don’t delay or suffer. Do something about it,” she says. “Enjoy life today, for tomorrow is not promised to anyone.”