Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Vagina Monologue




October is breast cancer awareness month, as was clearly made evident by the pinkification of all things around us. For the sake of awareness, the manliest of men graced the streets with pink paraphernalia in a show of solidarity to the millions of women who either suffer from this affliction or have lost their lives as a direct cause. Not one soul batted an eyelash at NFL line men delivering bone crushing, “I ain’t never scared” hits in a stylish pair of pink cleats with matching mittens And rightfully so. Social taboos should be cast aside in an effort to highlight matters relevant to the diaspora. So as much as it pains me to reference the vagina in any manner other than my typical pubescent school boy banter, I will go against my norm in an effort to highlight another affliction that disproportionately affects African American women; Uterine fibroids.

So a few years back, one of my close friends had been hospitalized due to uterine fibroids.The details of this experience involved rapid weight loss, surgeries, loss of blood, medication and multiple unpleasant events of the like. I, being the need to know it all that I am, naively asked: “What’s Uterine Fibroids?” I’m sure I passed out several times in my head as she described it to me but managed to maintain some form of acceptable male decorum. It wasn’t so much the “what” it was as it was the “where” it was that had me wanting to leave where I was at. All in all, It was comforting to know that she was on the road to recovery and felt much better. What I wasn’t aware of was that I would be hearing that exact same story from three to four other women in the next few years. What in the world was going on?

So what exactly are uterine fibroids and why is it so frequent in African American women? From what I gather, Uterine fibroids are typically benign tumors that grow on the uterus. It is treatable but in worst case scenarios can result in a hysterectomy and is most often the leading cause. Age plays a significant role in that fibroids are more likely to occur in women during their middle and later reproductive years. A ha! Since most or my peers were reaching their middle and later reproductive years, that explained the multiple occurrences but not so much the racial disparity. So what exactly was going on in black women that caused fibroids to be more prevalent? Somehow I think fried chicken is behind this.

The more I heard of fibroids, the more unconfirmed rumors surfaced. Hormones used in the growing of foods were said to be the cause. Chicken had a turn at primary suspect . Just being an African American woman was also sent up to bat as a root source. After some time, I couldn’t tell what was fact from farce. The only thing I knew for sure was that every time I said the word fibroid in a room, someone (or 3) had a story about themselves or a family member that had endured that ordeal. So how come it was so frequent but equally undisclosed?

Rather than speculate on a subject of which I have very little knowledge, It would be prudent to defer to those who actually do have an expertise through research and personal experience.

The Fibroids Project (www.fibroidsproject.com) was created by Renee Brown in an effort to centralize the information, treatment and research associated with uterine fibroids as well as provide support for those who require it. Given the frequency of fibroids, that information, research and support pertains to about 80% of women. It would also behoove the 80% percent of men who are either with these women or related to be informed. In a few years when our collective prostates are under duress, we all know it will be women who will be there to support us as they always have so why not pay it forward now?

The Fibroids Project Podcast

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