Girl! You LookGood! (But at what cost) Mystery of Fibroids Pt 2: Beauty Products

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Whatever you do, who ever you are as a woman, you use some type of beauty products every day: Make up, relaxers, nail polish, lotion, hair spray, wax, powder,deodorant…..

But most of these items contain chemicals that can be dangerous to our health with long term exposure, even in small doses.

Talcum powder has been in the news a lot lately because of questions of cancer in women and in workers who mine talc. (Find out more here.)

Most women already know about formaldehyde and the possible link to cancer in nail polish, and other beauty products, like the Brazilian Blowout that was popular a few years ago. (here)

The question is though, do any of these beauty and health products cause or contribute to fibroids?

I’d like to preface this by saying that I am not a scientist. (though I was good at biology in high school, if that counts for anything) I’m just a woman with a little bit of time, and access to great wifi who wants answers, and wants to share the answers with you.

Let’s start with the mother of beauty products for many Black women: The Relaxer

For those of you who may not know:

A relaxer is a type of lotion or cream generally used by people with tight curls or very curly hair which makes hair easier to straighten by chemically “relaxing” the natural curls. The active agent is usually a strong alkali, although some formulations are based on ammonium thioglycolate instead.

-via Wikipedia

A relaxer is applied to “new growth” every 6-8 weeks to straighten the roots.

You can also watch this clip from Chris Rock’s Good Hair, where he explores relaxers, their frequency in the Black community, and an experiment with a chemist. Prince jokes aside, its a great way to gain an understanding of relaxers.

 In the last few years, many black women have decided to “go natural”, ditching perms and opting to wear their hair in its naturally curly or kinky state, or using heat to straighten instead of chemicals. Many women made this choice because it seems healthier, and part of that is the possible link to relaxers and uterine fibroids.

The rumor that relaxers, and other Black hair care products, may be linked to the higher rates of uterine fibroids in Black women has be circulating for a while. But is there any truth to this?

The most often sited study is this 2012 American Journal of Epidemiology study. The study is ongoing, and surveys 59,000 Black women 21–69 years old. The participants from around the country are asked to update their medical information and complete a survey every two years.  The study tracks various items, relaxer usage being one of them, by sending additional questionnaires for those who have been diagnosed with fibroids, and confirmed via ultrasound or other means. For the relaxer/fibroids portion, the researchers premise was: “Hair relaxers are used by millions of black women, possibly exposing them to various chemicals through scalp lesions and burns.”

Hair relaxers (straighteners) have been used by millions of US black women, often for long periods of time (6). Hair relaxers can cause burns and lesions in the scalp, facilitating entry of hair relaxer constituents into the body (714). The main ingredient of “lye” relaxers is sodium hydroxide; no-lye relaxers contain calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate, and “thio” relaxers contain thioglycolic acid salts (15). No-lye relaxers are advertised to cause fewer scalp lesions and burns than lye relaxers, but there is little evidence to support this claim (16). Products may also contain hormonally active compounds (17), such as phthalates, which are not required to be listed separately as ingredients and are often reported under the term “fragrances” or “perfume” (18). Cosmetic products are not subject to premarket approval by the Food and Drug Administration, and a complete list of ingredients is not mandatory (19), making it unclear what types of chemicals they contain. However, because the vast majority of hair relaxers list “fragrance” as an ingredient, and 100% of popular fragrances tested in a 2002 study were found to contain phthalates (18, 20), most hair relaxers likely contain these chemicals. In addition, some hair relaxer products directly list phthalates as one of their chemical ingredients (21).

 We’ll get more into phthalates later….Trust me. You need to know about them.

But the basic question is are Black women being exposed to harmful chemicals more and are the being absorbed quicker into the body via scalp burns?

Their conclusion:

In this large population of premenopausal US black women, we observed increased risks of uterine leiomyomata in association with ever use of hair relaxers, duration of use, frequency of use, and total number of burns experienced during use.

There’s a lot more to this study, and there are other studies out there, if you want to learn more. Please read the full study linked above as well as these articles/studies:

Journal of Women’s Health

Scientific American (a Black woman scientists take on some of the research out there)

Now if you can still hang with me I’ve got more. This is a long post, something I try to avoid, but its necessary sometimes.

Lotions, Shampoos, Soaps, Make Up

Above, there is a mention of phthalates.

What the f*** is a phthalate? (Pronounced phthal·ate )

I’m glad you asked.

Phthalates are a sort of plastic, and it is used in all types of  products, from CDs and toys to nail polish and hairsprays, and literally everything in between. Phthalates make plastics more flexible and durable. In beauty products, it is used to  make things less stiff and prevent cracking. On a label, phthalates are usually listed as: phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP, or fragrance.

This chemical can be found in many beauty product we often use like body washes, or perfumed lotions, deodorant, (basically anything that has a smell to it), and nail polish. The use of phthalates in cosmetics is banned in Europe, but still 100% OK here in the US. This chemical is so common in so many daily products (not just beauty products), that many of us have detectable amounts of the chemical in our body, and, they can be passed on from mother to child.

But phthalates are not alone.

They have a buddy: parabens

Parabens are often used a a preservative in cosmetic products, such as shampoo, toothpaste, lubricants (ex: KY Jelly), shaving gel, and spray tan solution. There is often more than one type of paraben in a product. Parabens on a product label are usually listed as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben.

Parabens and Phthalates: Best Buds!
Parabens and Phthalates: Best Buds!

Phthalates and parabens do not need to work together, and they may not always be in products together, but very often when you see one, there is the other.

Now what is it about Parabens and Phthalates that is so bad? Well, they are both endocrine disruptors.  Endocrine Disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system, and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. (National Institutes of Health)

The ednocrine system is what produces hormones. Any system in the body controlled or affected by hormones could be impacted.

Getting the connection? Fibroids linked to increased levels of estrogen, natural hormone production possibly being interfered with by chemicals……

The problem is these two are in pretty much everything we use, including various beauty products. Many women are exposed to these chemicals at high rates, having them absorbed into the skin, daily, weekly, monthly via lotions, body washes, shampoos, nail polish, combined with their broader use in food packaging, plastic toys, toothpaste, and many other daily products. So there can be no conclusive evidence that these beauty products alone cause or contribute to fibroids, as they are so plentiful in our modern world, but as women, we are willingly exposing ourselves to higher doses.

 So do these products directly increase uterine fibroid risk, I side on yes, but not the beauty products alone.

Solution:

Look for products free of these chemicals. Organic and natural hair care and beauty lines. This might mean putting out a few extra coins, but it may be worth it in the end.

I use natural shampoos and conditioners, and I try to use natural oils and butters (shea, coconut) on my skin. Soaps have been a little more of a challenge for me, and I have not at all transitioned to “natural” makeup brands, though I’m a big fan of Shea Mositure products, including their foundation.

Sulfate free Shampoos

Three Top Paraben and Sulfate free Shampoos and Body Washes

Natural Make Up and Skin Care

What about all of the other things we do to beautify ourselves?

Waxing: 

Pretty harmless as long as your esthetician knows what s/he is doing, like using clean sticks and not double dipping. There are instances of STDs being spread due to bad practices. Otherwise, waxing is pretty safe.

Waxing Dangers

Manicures:

We all know nail polish can contain harmful chemicals like our buddies mentioned above and BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole). The curing process of a gel manicure, which requires time under a UV lamp, can create a new risk.  Prolonged exposure to UV light is known to increase the risk of skin cancer. (Think tanning beds)

If you can, find an organic nail polish (IDK how good they are or where you would even find organic polish, but apparently it is a thing)
Also, if you’re into gel manis, but sunscreen on your hands up to an hour before you go in. If they have you wash them, bring it with you to re apply.
Bottom line: You expose yourself to a lot of chemicals that may have negative effects long term, but there are ways to lessen  the damage.

7 things to know before getting a manicure

Gel Nail Safety Tips

Conclusion:
Chemicals are bad. They can cause or contribute to health problems, including uterine fibroids, but we can’t really avoid them in our day-to-day lives.

Make smart choices and eliminate or limit your exposure to these chemicals if you can. There is a risk for cancers, fibroids, birth defects, and a host of other issues associated with many of these chemicals.

Be BeYOUtiful, but don’t make yourself sick for it.

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July: Cookouts, Fireworks, and Awareness

July for Blog

One thing I have absolutely NO problem doing on my blog or social media is shouting out, partnering, or spreading awareness about/with other group or individuals that are about women’s health in general, or uterine fibroids, infertility, or Black women specifically.

I discovered last year that The White Dress Project started an initiative to recognize July as Fibroid Awareness Month. I found out pretty much at the end of the month, but now that I know, I’m going to kick it off right.

July is Fibroid Awareness Month!!

This is an “unofficial” month of recognition and education on uterine fibroids. Some states have adopted, but there are about 45 to go.
Want to make it a nation wide thing? Sign this petition to send to Washington to make it happen ( I mean….they have a lot going on, but maybe something simple like this can make it through all the BS.)

Use this month to tell your story, make sure you’ve had your yearly visit to your gyn (*ehem* self), change your diet, schedule that myomectomy you’ve been putting off (trust me,you’ll feel 1000 times better!)

This month I’m going to publish Part Two of the Mystery of Fibroids focusing on beauty products as a possible cause or agitator of fibroids, and I’ll be sharing lots of articles and information on fibroids.

 

Check out the Fibroid Facts page for more information on uterine fibriods

 

 

 

But Why? The Mystery of Fibroids Part 1: Estrogen Dominance

 

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By now we all know that up to 30% of all women will be diagnosed with uterine fibroids by the time they’re 35 , and up to 80% of all women will be diagnosed with uterine fibroids by the time they’re 50. African American women suffer more severe symptoms, they grow more quickly, and happen at a younger age.

The real question is ‘Why?’

Is it genetics? Food? Environmental factors? Cosmetics? Estrogen dominance? Some combination of these?

When I was first diagnosed with fibroids, I wondered “how?” How were there so many? How did they grow so large? How did I not know? What caused them?

Now, three years later, there is no sign of them (thankfully) at this point. What’s changed? I haven’t had a relaxer since 2005. I haven’t been on birth control since about that same time. But, my diet  and exercise routine now is actually worse than it was prior to 2013.

I took some time to dig into some factors and theories regarding uterine fibroids. There’s a lot more to dig through than I thought there would be, so I am breaking this into a series, with each possible cause getting its own post.
First up: Estrogen Dominance

 

Estrogen dominance: A condition where a woman can have deficient, normal or excessive estrogen, but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body.

Estrogen dominance is more of an imbalance, in the sense that usually its not that someone’s body is making an abundance of estrogen (though that could be the case), just that the balance of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body is off.

Our Hormones in Blance (graphic courtesy of fibroidelimination.com/)
Our Hormones in Balance
(graphic courtesy of http://www.fibroidelimination.com/)

Before I go deeper, let’s first review some basics of a woman’s biology. You’ll need the review to get a full understanding of Estrogen Dominance.

As we all know, women have menstrual cycles. A cycle starts the first day of your period, to the first day of the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but can vary form woman to woman.

The two main sex hormones in women are estrogen and progesterone. They work together to maintain balance in our body at all times. 

Estrogen regulates menstrual cycles, promotes cell division, and in puberty, the development of breasts, growing pubic hair, etc.

Progesterone maintains the health of a fetus. It protects us against the  effects of estrogen by stopping further ovulation the second half of the menstrual cycle if a woman is pregnant.

Estrogen is highest in the first half of your cycle. It reaches highest levels during ovulation, then drops and progesterone rises. Progesterone is released during ovulation. Some testosterone is also released around the time of ovulation. If you do not get pregnant, you have a period and everything starts all over.

 

Now that the review is out of the way, let’s get little more into ED.

Because our bodies need estrogen and progestoreone to maintain our body’s reproductive cycle, it is important that they stay in balance.  They counter each other. If/when that balance is upset, even on the smallest level, there can be problems.

How do you know you have a hormonal imbalance of any kind? Some symptoms of hormonal imbalances may include:

  • Irregular Periods
  • Sleep Problems
  • Acne
  • Foggy Memory
  • Digestive issues
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid Weight Gain/Loss
  • Vaginal Dryness
  • Headaches
  • Breast Tissue Changes
  • Loss of Libido
  • Infertility

 

Some symptoms or conditions thought to be the result of Estrogen Dominance specifically may include:

  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Endometrial (uterine) cancer
  • Polycystic ovaries
  • Uterine Fibroids

 

What causes the imbalance?

Several possible things:  Low progesterone levels/production,  chronic stress, synthetic estrogen (birth control pills, HRT [Hormone Replacement Therapy]), as well as environmental hormones and hormones found in food(diet)

 

Some hormone levels naturally drop with age, so as we get older, hormone imbalance of some sort is inevitable. So if our progesterone levels decrease, and our estrogen does not decrease at a comparable rate: Estrogen Dominance.
Of course, taking any hormonal birth control or HRT will alter the body’s balance. Birth control is made to fool our bodies prevent a true period. These two factors seem like obvious reasons for the body to be out of balance.

But what about food and environment?

In foods and the environment, we are exposed to Xenoestrogens.  Xenoestrogens are are a type of xenohormone that imitates estrogen. They can be either synthetic or natural chemical compounds. (Wikipedia)

With so many processed foods, genetically modified foods, pesticides, hormone injected meats, and foods with soy (which is a known natural xenoestrogen) its no wonder that our hormone levels are affected by what we consume. There is a big movement for less additives, and preservatives in foods: clean eating. It makes sense. With so many additional chemicals on and in food, the long term affects can’t be good for us. Does ingesting so many additional hormones from meats and chemicals in foods not initially meant for human consumption hurt us? I’m sure is doesn’t help. Do they contribute to an increase or decrease of hormones? Its very likely.

On the same road as food is environmental factors. Many of these, we have very little to no control over. Many environmental chemicals are also xenoestrogens. Many of which are found in daily beauty products (Post number two in the series). The main culprit is plastics. Remember the whole BPA in plastic bottles thing? The compound is found in everything from drink can coatings, to DVDs, to water bottles. It can disrupt or mimic natural hormones.

 

So what can you do?

You need testing to determine your hormone levels, which can only be done by your doctor. They will be able to determine if your levels are within the range of “normal”.

Outside of medical intervention, things can be done on your own to help balance your levels.

Changing the diet is the biggest thing, and probably the hardest for many. Let’s face it: fruits and grilled veggies are very tasty, but sometimes, a big ol’ cheeseburger and fries just tastes and feels sooo good.

Modifying diets to eliminate or greatly reduce soy, meats such as beef, and processed foods decreases exposure to additional estrogens or estrogen-like compounds. Of course, increasing exercise and being more active will also help.

There are various diet programs out there geared towards fibroid elimination. I don’t make it a habit of publicly endorsing programs/people/things that I haven’t personally tried on this blog. I would say if you’re going to try one of these programs, do your research.

Beware of your plastics use. Try not to warm up items in the microwave in plastic containers. The warmed plastic molecules can possibly seep into and contaminate your food. This is in very, small amounts, but over time, this could increase estrogen in your body. Don’t drink out of bottled water bottles that have been sitting in a hot car (same principal as microwaving in plastic), and try to buy water bottles (and bottles for babies for that matter) that are labeled BPA free.

 

There is really a lot more to say on Estrogen Dominance, its part of the reason this post look literally months for me to get up. I kept researching and trying to figure out what to write and what to leave out. At the same time, I kept discovering more stuff!

I hope this was a good first step to learning more. I definitely recommend taking the time to do more research on your own. You can start here:

butternutrition.com/estrogen-dominance-hormonal-imbalance/

www.ecopedia.com/health/estrogen-dominance-how-food-affects-men-and-women/

www.drlam.com/blog/estrogen-dominance-part-1/1704/

 

Next post in the series: Beauty Products and Fibroids

I’m talking relaxers, lotions, nailpolish, makeup, hair glue…..errthang.

 

So a Woman Thinketh, So is She

 

It is Mother’s Day. Again. Last year for Mother’s Day, I unplugged, and I was able to lift my spirits and cross off a major bucket list item by going to see Prince in concert. Alone. It was one of best days EVER!

This year, Prince has passed away, I am still sad about it, and I skipped going with my Husband to brunch with my Mother In Love (Law) because I just wasn’t in the mood. She doesn’t yet know about our struggle, and I just didn’t feel like pretending I was in a good place. I sent my card with my husband.

Instead, I’m home with the cat, listening to Prince, and blogging, which is perfect.

Of course, this week, I’ve been thinking about and dreading Mother’s Day, like many of us Maybe Mamas do. The past month or so, a lot of things have happened on the road to possible motherhood. In April, I had a final hysteroscopy to check out my uterine cavity, to see if the balloon used in the November procedure helped in minimizing/preventing scar tissue. A few days before I went in, my husband and I had a conversation where I questioned if I even wanted to have kids at all. I went on about how our time would not be our own, how all the moms I know (with kids under 5) are so boring now. They’ve completely lost their sense of self. All the money we’d now have to spend on the child’s needs, how uncomfortable and unpleasant pregnancy seems….
But in the next breath, I answered my own question: “But I guess, if I didn’t want to have a baby, I wouldn’t spend all this time and money making sure I could”

“True”, hubby responded.

Let's be real for a second, this ish does not look fun.
Let’s be real for a second, this ish does not look fun.

So I really started thinking: What do we tell ourselves to make this all hurt less? I’ve come to realize my main coping mechanism has been a denial of sorts. I’ve tried to convinced myself that I don’t really want to be a mom. I see all the negatives in parenting: The screaming toddler in Target, the sleeplessness, the projectile vomiting, constant worry if you’re doing right by your child.  Never having a life. These things are real, and a part of motherhood, but that’s not all that it is.

I truly have come to terms with the fact that I may never be a biological mother, or a mother at all. I think that is part of the infertility journey. Keep hope alive, but acknowledge all possible outcomes. What I have done over time is beyond that.

I’ve tried to shield myself from disappointment and hurt by trying to convince myself it doesn’t matter. Motherhood is not something I really want.

Its like Cinderella when when she realized she wasn’t going to the ball, despite doing everything her step mother said she had to do. She did her best (for all of 5 seconds) to convince herself that that Ball was going to suck, and she wasn’t missing anything.

"Oh, well, what's a royal ball? After all, I suppose it would be frightfully dull, and boring, and completely... completely wonderful."
“Oh, well, what’s a royal ball? After all, I suppose it would be frightfully dull, and boring, and completely… completely wonderful.” ~Cindy

But the reality is, I do want to be a mother, and its painful to think that I may never be. Some days, its too much to think about, so I don’t. The best I can do is try to convince myself that like the Royal Ball, Motherhood sucks. Except, much like Cinderella, I’m not doing such a great job of fooling myself.

 

I chose the title of this post based form Proverbs 23:7, which most people interrupt as a verse cautioning us to be mindful of our thoughts, as they become who we are. Reading the whole verse, and the verses before and after, and other translations, that’s not what is meant at all.

The verse is referring to a person who says one thing out of their mouth, but doesn’t mean it. They invite you to come over, eat and enjoy, but inside, they’re hoping you don’t. The full scripture:

Do not eat the bread of a miser,[a]
Nor desire his delicacies;
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
But his heart is not with you.

Now, I’m no “miser”, but I am being insincere with my words when I say I don’t really want to have a baby. I say I’d much rather just O and I be the “cool auntie and uncle”, that way we have our time, money (and my body) to ourselves. The ultimate proof that its all bs is not the myomectomy, or the three procedures I’ve undergone to remove scarring (and recently endometriosis), and the months of hormones I took to try to restore my uterine lining. Its not the research I’ve done on adoption. Its the consult we had this past week with a fertility doctor, and the tests we’re about to take, and the IVF journey we are about to start. Someone who doesn’t want it would not bother with any of this.

So on this Mother’s Day, I give myself the gift of acceptance, and permission to feel and experience all of the emotions that come with this journey. Some days are hopeful. Some days are depressing, and that’s OK.

Its OK to want something that seems just out of reach, and its OK to feel the creep of that green-eyed monster when it seems everyone else but me is enjoying that which is illusive: Motherhood.

I want to give this gift to you too. My sisters in this battle. Give yourself permission to feel how you feel, today and everyday.

 What have you been telling yourself?

Doin’ Too Much: Surgery, Change, and my Holiday

Most people’s holiday seasons are filled with family, food, drinks, and relaxation. Mine had some of that, but also included hysteroscopy, estrogen, moving, and bed rest.

 

In short, I’ve been having issues with my cycle, and my RE and gynecologist both suggested going back to my surgeon to get a better look at what is happening. My GYN suspected Asherman’s Syndrome.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, I went in for a laproscopy and hysteroscope. The surgeon did find some scar tissue that formed since the last procedure and removed it. He also found a tear that he repaired. I was put on a two month regimen of low dose estrogen (to be followed by 15 days of progesterone) to help restore my thinned lining. He also inserted a cook ballon to try to minimize scarring and adhesion inside my uterus. I had to keep the balloon in for 7 days. It was not the most comfortable thing in the world. I went the office the following week to have it removed. Having it taken out was uncomfortable more than it was painful.

The estrogen so far has given me headaches (the first week or so), and had my face broke out like I was 13. Right now, nothing major in terms of side effects, but the first two weeks…….

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This picture does my breakout no justice. My skin was horrible. I haven’t had a breakout like that since I was 13 or 14. Yay estrogen.

The procedure seemed to go pretty well, and I recovered well that day, but I didn’t bounce back like I thought I would. When I had this same thing done in 2013, I flew out to Atlanta the next day for work. Was I 100%? No, but I was at least at 75% This time, it took me about four days to feel back to normal. By the time I was feeling close to normal….it was time to pack up to move…to an entirely new city. I was limited in what I could do in terms of lifting, but I did move a suitcase that was a little heavier than I thought, and immediately felt weird. I knew I needed to sit my ass down and not lift anything. Which I did…for a few days, then I did it again. My doctor said I irritated the muscles in the pelvic area, take it easy.

I did….a little, but then it was Christmas. I had done no Christmas shopping, my mom was coming to stay with us for two days, which means I had to clean, and I had to cook my contributions to Christmas dinner. Which means, not much rest, but a lot of 800mg ibuprofen.

Finally, I was able to rest for a few days, and I do feel mostly better, after a month.

This procedure was important for me because this is the set up work to see if I can carry a baby. Aside from my left tube being blocked (not such a big deal), my lining is thin and my uterus is small. These things might keep me from carrying my own baby. I go back in April for another scope, to see if the hormones have made my lining thicken at all, and if having the balloon in for 7 days helped with the adhesion/scarring. As much as I try to downplay this as a minor procedure, it is a big deal, and I’m a little worried that all that I had going on immediately after the procedure may affect the final outcome.

We do this a lot, those of us who struggle. We don’t want to break down in front of those who know what we’re going through(or even those who don’t). We don’t want to admit the stakes even to ourselves sometimes in order to keep our peace and a little sanity. But, we need to. We have to come to terms with what is happening with our bodies and what is our options are.

 

The good news in all of this is: NO Fibroids were found! Two years fibroid free since my June 2013 Myomectomy.

 

Happy New Year

 

Doing Big Things!

 

For all of the years I’ve lived in the DC area, I’ve never been to any official, (or unofficial for that matter) CBC events. Why? I don’t know. Probably the same reason I’ve never been to a HBCU homecoming: I just haven’t. Howard is right down the road, and I have several friends that are HBCU Alumni. There’s no excuse. Yes, I know my Black Card may be in question for never experiencing homecoming. I’m accepting all invites, since it is homecoming season if anyone wants to help me rectify that situation.

This year, I finally made it to CBC, and not just to party. The White Dress Project, a non-profit that advocates for uterine fibroid research and education, held two events and raised the profile of the organization and fibroid awareness.

 

Congressional Briefing (minus Me) Photo Credit: White Dress Project Facebook
Congressional Briefing (minus me)
Photo Credit: White Dress Project Facebook

On Wednesday, a few members of the WDP, along with several medical professionals, participated in a congressional briefing on Uterine Fibroid Education and Awareness hosted by Rep. David Scott of Georgia.

This was really the highlight and the most important part of being at CBC. I had on my schedule, and planned to be there, but unfortunately I had to cancel out at the last-minute. I was definitely in my office with the pouty face because I had to miss it.

This briefing was a major step in getting the cause out there and helping to earn support for officially designating July as Fibroid Awareness Month. Mr. Scott already introduced HR RES. 268 at the end of the last legislative term, “Supporting the designation of July 2015 as Uterine Fibroids Awareness Month”.

The next day, the DMV Leadership of the White Dress Project hosted an event. Part social, part informative. The ladies gathered health professionals, including a therapist, an OBGYN, and a surgeon, who happened to be my surgeon Dr. MacKoul, to answer questions, talk about the epidemic if uterine fibroids, treatment options, and how to deal with the emotional effects of living with fibroids.

 

White Dress Project DMV Social at CBC (I didn't realize we were not doing the silly faces anymore...) Photo Credit: White Dress Project Facebook
White Dress Project DMV Social at CBC
(I didn’t realize we were not doing the silly faces anymore…)

The really great thing about the event was not only meeting other women affected by fibroids, but hearing everyone’s stories. Being able to relate to taking hormones, or having to pee every five minutes, or the literal and figurative weight that is lifted once the fibroids are removed. To see how everyone bounced back, and in spite of possibly having fibroids re-appear, or questions on fertility post myomectomy, the  determination to move forward, and excitement of these ladies to educate others and advocate on uterine fibroids was amazing.

I was so excited to meet new women, and finally get to meet the White Dress Project founder, Tanika Gray, because……

 

I will be working with the White Dress Project as an ambassador, working to raise awareness and  get Fibroid Awareness Month recognized on a State level!

 

We Can Wear White
We Can Wear White

 

I’m so excited about this opportunity!  Please stay tuned for more updates, posts, and events on my journey with the White Dress Project.

 

Fibroid News You Can Use

Blog graphic

The summer season is officially over, and so is my blog break.

This summer was great: A trip to Vegas, wedding planning, and cookouts.

To get back into the swing, I want to highlight some stories from around the web on fibroids.

 

Meds on the Way?

A medicine designed to help shrink uterine fibroids is currently in the human trial phase. This is good news, but my concern is it becoming one of so many drugs that are pushed on people, and the pharmaceutical industry winning big financially, and in the long run the people lose and no other research or prevention methods will be tried. Don’t get me wrong: medicine is wonderful and in most cases can really help to manage symptoms or even cure conditions. For some situation, drugs are the only thing that will help. However there’s a point where it becomes more about getting patients to take the drug for a solution, and not looking at other methods, and that for me is a problem.

One of the researchers is quoted in the article as saying “There’s no rhyme or reason why women get fibroids, and there’s nothing they can do to avoid developing them; it’s just something that happens…

What?!

This quote irritates me. The medical community, or us as women should not be content with a ‘that’s just the way it is’ attitude.

Check the article out here. If you’re in the San Diego area, you may be eligible to participate in the trials. (The article is sponsored by the firm conducting the research, Precision Research Institute)

 

Money for Research!

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc has awarded the Distinguished Professor Endowed Chair Award to Dr. Darlene K. Taylor of North Carolina Central University. Dr. Taylor associate chemistry professor, will use the $200,000 award to support university efforts in integrated biosciences that focus on uterine fibroid tumor research.

Please click here to read more about this wonderful grant from the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta, and the work or Dr. Taylor.

This news makes me excited! A Black woman, being awarded a grant by a Black sorority, to research uterine fibroids. Something that affects up to 80% of women, and Black women are affected at a higher rate. Girl Power!

Woman Power!

First, a Woman, a BLACK woman in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) is amazing! The numbers of women in STEM are low, and even lower for minority women. There is something about this that makes this grant and her research even more amazing. This is why we need more women in STEM: so that they can be a voice in the lab.

There’s progress, which is always a great thing.

 

I hope to share some updates soon about efforts that I’m fortunate to be a part of to help spread fibroid awareness.

I’m also participating in Blogging 201, so you may see some updates on the website, and maybe a few out-of-place posts. I really want to take this little blog to the next level. The craziness of wedding planning is slowly coming to a close, so I will be back to having my free time to devote back to blogging and other efforts.

 

Thanks for sticking with me!

 

There’s a Month For That

FIBROID AWARENESS MONTH

It seems like there is a month or day for everything now: Best Friend Day, Doughnut Day, Wine Day (obviously all days that I am here for). Then there are more serious days: HIV Awareness Day, Earth Day, Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day. Again, all days I can get behind.

And of course, you have Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and on and on.

There is a new month gaining momentum that I will definitely jump on board with: Fibroid Awareness Month!

That’s right, July is Fibroid awareness month! It know that at this point, July is pretty much over, but its still something worth knowing. This is a new initiative, and its headed by the White Dress Project, a non profit who’s mission is to “galvanize support and promote awareness about the fibroid epidemic among women domestically and globally through education, research and advocacy.

They are working to get each state to officially recognize July as Fibroid Awareness Month, and they sponsor events to help spread fibroid awareness and offer support for those that have been through or are going through a battle with fibroids. So far Georgia, New York, Florida, and the city of New Orleans are officially recognizing July as Fibroid Awareness month due to the White Dress Project’s efforts.

I love this organization and concept already. As I have said here time and time again, awareness and education a so very important in regards to fibroids (and many other things). Infertility has National Infertility Awareness Week (maybe that can move to a month one day), there is a PCOS  (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) Awareness month in September, so why not fibroids? The fact that uterine fibroids are such a common disease, but the research and amount of conversation and awareness is so small is a shame. On a wider note, so many gynecological conditions outside of cancer are not discussed in the women’s health discussion.

 

So even though there are only 5 more days left in the month, there is still time to celebrate an do your part!

Of course, you can start by telling  your story. Education and awareness starts with that one simple act.

Want to do more? You can sign this petition petition to receive a presidential proclamation to make July Fibroid Awareness Month.

https://www.change.org/p/barack-obama-michelle-obama-declare-july-fibroids-awareness-month-nationally

Check out the Fibroid Facts page of this blog to learn more about fibroids.

Just like a Felon

I know I’m late, but the new thing I love is podcasts. I’m addicted.  Serial. The Read. Freakanomics. I even sub to a wedding planning pod cast. They’re entertaining, informative, and they help me get through my long commute home,  so I’m always looking for a new show to subscribe to.
I recently started listening to Death. Sex. Money. , which describes itself as  “A podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.”  Since I newly discovered this series,  I’ve been catching up on past episodes. So far, an excellent pod cast and quickly becoming a favorite.

Today’s catch up episode was from April 25, 2015. An interesting interview until the subject uttered this sentence: “I think people without children should not be allowed to vote”

 Insert record scratch.

There are so many great side eye GIFs out there, selecting one was difficult. But the Dowager wins today.
There are so many great side eye GIFs out there, selecting one was difficult.
But the Dowager wins today. Me when I heard his “joke”

The person speaking was W. Kamau Bell. Comedian, blogger, and former talk show host. Now to be clear, I know that it was said in jest, because, he is a comedian. However, I still found it not funny and incredibly insensitive.  I was offended, and actually a little shocked. I don’t think he was trying to be an asshole, but that’s definitely how he came off in that moment.

I admit, I don’t know a whole lot about Bell, and I wasn’t very familiar with him before his talk show, Totally Biased. I know he’s a comedian. I’ve liked most of what I have seen from him, which is why I picked that episode to listen to. I  wanted to learn more about him. From what I have heard  from him in the past, and even in that particular interview up to that point, he is an intelligent and aware individual.

So why then, even as a joke, would he say something like that?

What he was trying to say, in a horrible,  inconsiderate way, is that parents see the world differently than they did prior to becoming parents, and make most, if not all decisions considering the lives of their children, knowing even the smallest decision affects their lives. I get it, but the premise is still a little off.

Now, it’s really not my thing to be the comedy police. As they say “everything ain’t for everybody”, so if I don’t find a comedian (or comedienne) funny,  I just don’t listen to their comedy or watch their shows (I’m looking at you, Kathy Griffin and Martin Lawrence. Black Card revoked for Martin,  I know). However,  some things, to me, are universally not funny: racist jokes, violence against women centered jokes, sexual abuse jokes, etc. I say all this to say that I’m not bashing Bell as a comedian,  or even as a person. I am simply saying that he is representative of what the world thinks of us child free women, and men: We are some sort of selfish, not-fully-formed, adult-type person.

Yes. Being a parent changes you. I don’t think anyone would argue that point.  And yes, I’m sure as a parent,  your decision making shifts. But the implication here, is that somehow, by not being a parent,  you are incapable of making quality,  well thought out,  long range decisions.  Which then implies that by not being a parent,  you are some how less of an adult.
I haven’t even gotten to the sheer insensitivity this shows towards the 1 in 8 couples who literally can’t have children.

So even as a joke, he’s essentially saying that because someone consciously chooses not to, or is unable to procreate, They should be denied a civil right? Cut out of a crucial function society. No better than a felon to him I guess. (BTW, I am not someone in favor of felons losing their right to vote once they have served their time)

So the soldier who cannot have children because of the injuries he sustained in Afghanistan, and his wife shouldn’t have a say in choosing the person who shapes the foreign policy of this country? You know, because he has no ideas or insights about such things because he’s not a father.

The couple that has spent thousands upon thousands of dollars just to become parents doesn’t have a stake in the healthcare system here in this country? I mean, they only have been navigating through it for years. What could they possibly know since they don’t yet have any children?

“Its just jokes.”  “Why are you going so deep with it?”  “Calm down.”  You might be saying.

I get it, he’s a comedian,  and a new dad, so its just for fun, and he’s experiencing the world in a new way right now.  Cool. But I should hope those two things don’t instantly render you insensitive or arrogant.
For so many people,  that was just a flippant,  funny thing to say. But for the couple who just suffered a second miscarriage, or is on the fourth round if IVF, its painful.
To the women and men who have made the choice not to become a parents, it’s down right insulting.

To Kamau I say:

Come on, bruh.

In the words of one of my podcast faves, Crissle, Words mean things. Even as a joke, words can be painful. You as a Black man should know this.  Choose your words wisely.

Being child free, rather by choice or circumstance, does not invalidate ones humanity or adultness. For those who are childless by circumstance, that type of statement can be painful.

If you have an issue with my child free status, take that up with God.

Update: Per Kamau’s twitter I stumbled upon this conversion. Looks like he stands by his “joke”, which is unfortunate.

Listen to the full podcast episode here.

How Congress Celebrates NIAW….

…and it’s not by recognizing the week with a proclamation.

Sounds about right....
Sounds about right….

Someone I know shared a little nugget about Congress and their plan to overturn a DC law that prevents women from being fired for using IVF or getting pregnant out-of-wedlock. At first, I thought it had to be some kind of Onion type article, but no. This is an actual thing.

That’s right, people of D.C.: members of Congress just voted to let your boss fire you for personal decisions you make at the doctor’s office — because your boss believes those decisions aren’t consistent with his religious beliefs. Now, the whole House may take a vote on this discriminatory measure.

 

(For those that don’t know, click here for a little history about how/why Congress can do this in DC.)

So because you don’t agree with how someone starts their family, they can be fired? That sounds real Christian. (feel the sarcasm)  I really want someone to show me the passage(s) of scripture where God said IVF will send you to hell. Don’t these people know there was infertility in the Bible, even a miscarriage?

I can’t even deal with this.
This is why it’s so important to speak out and educate others about infertility issues. I choose to believe if people understood more, they wouldn’t say and do rude or insensitive things,  and they wouldn’t make these types of judgments.

 

Anyway….

You can catch the full ACLU article is here

Also, a take on this from The Frisky here.