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Dec 9

I overcame fibroids through family, resilience and faith | Opinion – Commercial Appeal

The biggest lesson I learned through my journey with fibroids and through my career in Memphis is that you have to keep going no matter what storms come your way.

Siobhan Riley| Guest Columnist

Are Memphis' Big River Bakehouse peanut butter cups better than Reeses?

Jennifer Chandler tries Memphis' Big River Bakehouse peanut butter cups to see if the healthier option taste better than Reece's.

Edited by Ray Padilla, Filmed by Brandon Dahlberg

Theres a story behind this picture.

This is the picture my best friend Yvette Whiteside took of me at my going away party after 7amazing years in Memphis.As many of you know, my last day at Fox 13 was Nov. 30.

Im relocating to another state for a new anchor and reporter role but before I embark on my next chapter, I wanted to share my testimony about overcoming fibroids because I know fibroids impacts so many women in the Memphis community outreach who may be suffering silently like I was.

2021 was one of the most trying years of my 13 year broadcast year but somehow I managed to overcome major obstacles that would made some wonder, how do you keep standing in the midst of a storm that doesnt seem like it will ever end.

Let me start by telling women who are silently suffering from fibroids, you are not alone.For the past year I was feeling exhausted to the point where I did not have any energy.

I noticed my stomach was getting larger but I thought it was just me gaining weight.It got to the point where I started telling my photographers at Fox 13 to aim the camera a certain way so that viewers could not see my stomach on live TV.

Fast forward to July of this year. Thats when I flew to Florida to meet my parents for our annual family reunion.My mom said to me Oh my gosh Siobhan, Ive never seen your stomach look like that.

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When I returned to Memphis to head back to work after my family reunion, a woman said to me while I was covering a story congratulations are in order.I responded by saying Im not pregnant.I was not offended but I did realize something was not right because I was exercising daily and I could not understand why I was losing weight everywhere but my stomach.

A few weeks later, I went on a spiritual fast in July.During that fast, I cut out certain foods in my diet.I prayed that God would bless me with new job opportunitiesand that he would remove anything hindering my growth.At the end of the fast I lost 10 pounds but I still wasnt losing weight in my stomach.

When I called my mother who lives in Greensboro, North Carolina to tell her about my fast, she asked me did you lose weight in your stomach? I said no.She said take a picture and send it to me.My mon said, oh my gosh, I think you have fibroids.Go to the bed and lay on your stomach.If your stomach hurts, you probably have fibroids. I laid on my stomach and I told my mom my stomach did in fact hurt.My mom said you need to go to the doctor.

My coworker recommended me to OBGYN Dr. Jessica Ruffin.Dr. Ruffin gave me an ultrasound and saidto me yes in fact you have several fibroids and how are you still standing, you should be exhausted because your fibroids are large and could impact your kidneys.

Thats when she told me I had uterine fibroids and would have to have a Myomectomy.I proceeded to ask Dr. Ruffin will I be able to have children?Dr. Ruffin paused and said thats why I want you to talk to a fertility specialist.I sat in her office and cried because the first thing that came to my mind was what if I cant have children?Another healthcare worker told me it would be a gamble but I told her I was leaning on my faith because Ive always wanted one child.

A few days before my surgery, I drove to Nashville to talk with a fertility specialist at Center for Reproductive Health.As soon as I walked into the office, I saw picture frames with the words faith and hope written on them.That was my confirmation that everything was going to be ok.The doctor I spoke with said based on my medical records that I should be able to have kids.I went from being teary eyed to smiling because those picture frames with the words faith and hope gave me the reassurance that everything was going to be ok.

Sept. 27 was the big day for my surgery.I was scared because of the size of my fibroids.Thank God for a praying mother.The day of surgery I told my mom, Minnie Riley I just needed to hear a word from God so she pulled out her phone and played a TD Jakes sermon entitled God Knows When.

Bishop Jakes read Revelation 2:10 which reads in part You will be tried.Be thy faithful unto deathand I will give you the crown of life. After hearing that sermon, I knew that God was going to take care of me and all my worries and fears went away.

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After having my surgery, the burdens that had been holding me down for so long were removed.I had 6 massive fibroids removed.When my mother showed me pictures of the size of the fibroids, my jaw dropped because I could not believe how large they were.I was also thanking God that I did not suffer any other health issues.

When I went back for my check up two weeks later, Dr. Ruffin said my fibroids weighed 3300 grams.My google search showed me that 3300 grams is equivalent to 7.2 pounds.Dr. Ruffin told me its like you were carrying a baby.

Now some people may wonder, how did I not know that I had fibroids.Honestly, I just thought maybe my body needed rest but I was never able to get the rest I needed.Its important to note that in 2018 I went to the hospital when my stomach started hurting so bad to the point where it felt like someone punched me in my stomach and stabbed me with a knife.Doctors told me they could not figure out what was going onat that time so I just assumed I was ok.Now things are starting to make more sense.

My advice to women: headto the doctor for your annual checkups.The 1st mistake I made is that I was not going to the doctor as regularly as I should have for my checkups.I only went when something was wrong but if I had been going like I was supposed to, a doctor could have caught it earlier.

The second mistake I made was that I was too busy trying to be Wonder Woman.Ive always been serious about my craft but I realized that I was not putting myself first.I made up my mind after my surgery that I would never ever put anything else before myself.My new motto is put yourself and your health first.

I just want to remind women reading this that stress triggers fibroids which is what was happening to me.I also had heavy menstrual cycles which is one of the symptoms of fibroids.

Studies show that 80% of African American women will have fibroids by the age of 50.One thing that helped me get through my journey was my faith.Ill be honest, I was scared because I did not know what was going on with my body and often times I would wear dresses on air to camouflage my stomach so that no one would ask me if I was pregnant.

I thank God for healing and now I feel that I can walk into the next chapter of my life more relaxed and vibrant.As I mentioned earlier, that spiritual fast was Gods way of lifting the burdens that were hindering me and needed to be removed.Those fibroids were becoming burdens but I thank God that the burdens have been removed.

I can rejoice knowing that God gave me the healing I desperately needed.

I want to close by saying thank you Memphis for your support over the past 7 1/2 years.I started my Memphis career at WREG as a reporter, then took a break from broadcasting and worked in marketing and communications while doing community outreach.I ended my Memphis career at Fox 13.These past seven years have taught me that if you keep your faith, even the possible will become possible.Never let your obstacles cause you to give up.

The biggest lesson I learned through my journey with fibroids and through my career in Memphis is that you have to keep going no matter what storms come your way.Mountains are hard to climb but never impossible, keep climbing.If theres anyone reading this whose battling fibroids, remember this.

No fear, no stress, just faith.

Siobhan Riley was a reporter at WREG Fox 13 Memphis for more than seven years. Her last day was Nov. 30.

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I overcame fibroids through family, resilience and faith | Opinion - Commercial Appeal

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