Many women have uterine fibroids at some point during their lifetime. But you may not know you have them because they often do not present symptoms. Some women, though, have had to deal with more severe symptoms just like Marvelous Fungurani, who has lived with such symptoms for some years now.
We did a story on Marvelous’ inspiring journey to earning her education despite many challenges. Another battle she has dealt with is fibroids. We caught up with her again to talk about the impact the condition has had on her life.
How old were you when you first started to notice symptoms? What were the symptoms? What did you think at first?
I first got my period when I was 11 years old. From the get-go, it was always accompanied by terrible abdominal pain, clotting, and I would break out in hives from the first day of my period till the last day. Symptoms worsened two weeks before getting my period: the stabbing pain in my abdomen, fainting as well as bloating.
I missed a lot time in the classroom during my period, and everyone knew about my condition. It was just something that I could not hide because I was always in constant discomfort and pain. I would use an excess of two packs per cycle. I would also spot my underwear.
At this point I did not understand what was going on with me. Physical exertions were just too much for me. Even now, I cannot stand for too long or carry anything heavy. During my Ordinary Level examinations, my brother had to literally help me to the examination room.
How did you learn of the diagnosis?
In 2015 the pain was so excruciating. The symptoms were at their peak, and I had lost so much weight during that time. One of the ladies from church suggested I go for a scan just to find out what was going on with me. That’s when I was diagnosed with fibroids, which answered a lot of questions for me. I was counselled and prescribed herbal medicines from a Catholic clinic. The herbs helped somewhat with the symptoms. Some of the medication I have taken has helped somewhat and just resting with the use of hot water bottles to try and alleviate the pain.
How did you feel about the diagnosis, and how has it affected your life?
To be honest, at first, I really thought that the fibroid would just disappear. There is always the fear of the unknown when it comes to my situation because I fear that I will never have children. This fear is highlighted even more when I meet someone new, and I have to disclose to them that I have fibroids. The barrage of questions on whether I will have children with the individual always scares me. Sometimes I just think maybe if I get involved with someone with their own children, I will not have the pressure of having my own children.
I do not feel comfortable going for sleepovers or visiting because of the pain attacks I have. I recall one time when I was forced to sleep over at a relative’s house but ended up being taken to the clinic in the middle of the night due to the pain.
From as far as I can remember, abdominal pain has been part of my life. Socially, I am not too comfortable being around other people, I just dread being in public because a wave of pain can just come unexpectedly. Future plans are hindered. Plans are difficult to make when I think of my situation.
I know I would have done better in school if it weren’t for the fibroid since I would constantly miss school. Because of the size of the fibroid, towards my period I become so bloated that there have been rumours that I am pregnant, which really hurts me a lot.
Do you have a good support system?
My dad, stepmom and siblings have stood with me throughout the years. My sister went into her pocket to take me to a doctor when I was in Durban last year. My friend in Australia also helped with funds to take me to a gynecologist and bought the medication required to suppress the growth of the fibroid. My church members always stand with me in prayer.
I recall a time at university where I had to open up to one of the lecturers because I would often miss his lectures. He understood and made sure I did my work. My bosses on the other hand do understand to a certain extent since it’s work. Otherwise, I do have a good support system.
Read the previous story we did on Marvelous below: