She’s Having a Tumour

A firsthand account of carrying both a baby and a uterine fibroid

By Kim Segal

My uterine fibroid and I had a long history together. The story began with on again off again bladder pressure and urinating frequency. But as years passed, and every urine culture came back negative, it was clear that more indepth analysis was necessary.

Uterine fibroid and I were officially introduced in the spring of 2007, during a vaginal ultrasound. “Yup, you have a fibroid,” the ultrasound specialist said. Noticing my look of terror, he said the tumour in my uterus was non-cancerous and “about the size of a plum.” I learned later that most doctors compare tumour size to fruit, but at the time a plum seemed huge.

When I expressed concern that the fibroid would impede my ability to become pregnant, the technician looked at my then boyfriend and encouraged him to “hop to it”, and sooner rather than later, “before it grew and got in the way.” He added that removing the tumour might scar my womb, making future pregnancies more difficult.

Knowing I had this growth inside me suddenly made me feel better. I wasn’t imagining it. It was pressing on my bladder. It wasn’t dangerous (only one percent of fibroids are cancerous), and I could deal with it later on.

Time passed. I became pregnant. But as my belly swelled, so did the “plum” since fibroids feed on estrogen, which is plentiful during pregnancy. What was once a five-centimetre mass ballooned to 14 centimetres — the size of a five-month-old fetus. Concerned that it would rob my daughter of the space she needed, my amniotic fluid was monitored by ultrasound every month. Entering the last trimester, she was in a breech position and the fibroid was blocking her exit. A caesarean was booked.

Three and half-years later, I finally decided to say goodbye to my not-sofriendly fibroid. A hysterectomy was the easiest option, but I preferred myomectomy, a procedure whereby a surgeon removes the fibroid and leaves the uterus intact. Open abdominal myomectomy was the second option, where the surgeon would perform a laparotomy. Unfortunately, recovery time is long, and as a single mom I needed to be back on my feet pronto. Because of the size, most surgeons were reluctant to attempt laparoscopic (or keyhole) surgery. Instruments enter through three keyholes in the abdomen, and the tumour is lacerated and removed in pieces.

Enter Dr. Tulandi, a surgeon specializing in fertility and laparoscopic surgery at the MUHC. I remember Dr. Tulandi’s words upon palpating my belly: “It’s big,” he exclaimed. And while he couldn’t promise laparoscopic surgery, and might opt for open abdominal, he promised to do his best. That was good enough for me, since I was confident in both his skills and reputation. Six months of a hormone-repressing drug called Lupron was prescribed to put me in a menopausal state (complete with hot flashes and irritability) in the hopes of shrinking the fibroid and cutting off its blood supply.

The day finally arrived to remove my unwanted “hitchhiker.” The surgery was a success and, six weeks later, thanks to my mom who came from the U.K. to nurse me back to health and take care of my daughter, I was back to fully functional working-mom mode.

Summer 2014, Vol 6 N°3

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