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The warning signs of uterine fibroids

Posted at 11:29 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 23:29:49-04

(WXYZ) — No one knows for sure what causes fibroids; we also don't know what causes them to grow or shrink.

We do know that they are under hormonal control - both estrogen and progesterone. They grow rapidly during pregnancy when hormone levels are high. They shrink when anti-hormone medication is used.

Still suffering from fibroids is not normal and needs to stop before another woman is forced to have a hysterectomy because they waited too long.

Two years ago, I went through a health scare here at channel 7. I had a fibroid tumor growing inside me about the size of a football and had no idea.

RELATED: Carolyn Clifford's health scare is something a lot of women may experience

Turns out a lot of women have problems with fibroids, women I work with, family members, but another woman I met recently, Robin Brown, wants to share her frightening ordeal so it's not repeated.

Growing up, Robin was the picture of confidence. Popular and the life of any room she walked into.

“My dream as a child was to grow up I wanted to be an author a wife and a mom,” she says.

But in her quiet time, she was suffering from excruciating pain from her menstrual cycle beginning at age 16.

“I would miss school and she took me to the doctor, they did an ultrasound and that's how they found out I had fibroids,” she says.

The pain and bleeding from those fibroids were horrendous but her doctors said not to worry.

“I'm like it's cramping really, really bad, the kind that would stop you in your tracks um huh,” she says.

Dr. Omar Zwain is a surgeon with Ascension Medical Group. He says uterine fibroids are common and often lead to a hysterectomy.

80 percent of black women and 70 percent of white women develop fibroids, but extreme pain and bleeding are warning signs.

“If you feel something is not right for your body in any aspect your cycle heavier more of more bleeding more pressure more pain consult with your gynecologist,” he says.

Robin did just that. Her fibroids continued to grow and led to a miscarriage.

“I woke up in the middle of the night and I’m, like, cramping really, really bad and I'm like something is not right something isn't right,” she says.

Losing a baby was devastating, but her problems were far from over, her body started attacking her.

“I can't walk. Like, I felt like someone had a knife and was just stabbing me in my uterus and like turning it,” she says.

An MRI would reveal a large fibroid the size of a 9.5-pound baby and it was sitting right on top of Robin's uterus. The fear? Cancer was feeding that giant tumor.

“It grew in such a short amount of time and they didn’t' know what was feeding it,” she says.

Dr. Zwain and a gynecologist oncologist, Dr. Razool from Ascension Providence would perform Robin's surgery.

Robin was petrified.“I lost my mom in 2014 to cancer so hearing oncologist, what's about to happen,” she says.

Once this giant tumor was out it was biopsied for cancer but came back negative.

Six additional fibroids were removed and the silver lining Dr. Zwain miraculously was able to save her uterus.

“And so she can have a baby. She still has a uterus and she can have a baby,” he says.

And while Robin can have her happy ending, she has a message for other women.

“Just don't suffer in silence because it's other women out here experiencing the same thing that you're going through,” she says.

Bottom line if you have severe pain or bleeding you need an ultrasound to figure it out.

Dr. Zwain says it's best to deal with fibroids when they are small and can be easily removed with very little downtime for recovery and there are multiple options for removal.