Better Health and Wellness: Faced with preventable pain or ‘barbaric’ surgery, Kansas woman picks less common route

Better Health & Wellness

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KSNW) – Cindy Haden, a 49-year-old from Overland Park, is a self-described health fanatic. Haden battled against any predisposition to health concerns through a clean diet and frequent exercise.

She began experiencing pain in her abdomen between 35 and 40 years old. Doctors suspected a variety of issues, including IBS, gall stones, kidney stones, appendicitis and even Lyme disease. Further review and follow-up with specialists concluded it wasn’t any of these problems.

What Haden was actually dealing with were uterine fibroids — painful, non-cancerous growths of the uterus often appearing during childbearing years.

“It just was something that you felt you lost control over your own body,” Haden said looking back at her health issue.

Some days, Haden’s stomach would be flat. Other days, she looked “nine months pregnant.” Most people who suffer from uterine fibroids experience hemorrhaging or lengthy menstrual cycles, but Haden didn’t present traditional symptoms.

Cindy before and after surgery. Courtesy Cindy Haden

She recalls a conversation with one OBGYN:

“She did not take any pictures, do any scans, she just immediately said, ‘You need to have a hysterectomy,’ and it was alarming and disturbing to me,” Haden recalls.

Conversations with other medical professionals pointed toward intense surgery.

“They told me that I would have to have these very, I call them barbaric surgeries because they’re so extreme. So an incision, basically from my breast bone to my pelvic bone, on the center of my abdomen, and that there was no alternative for me, that was the way it was going to be,” Haden said.

She qualified for a surgery that stents bloodflow to the fibroid, making it shrink, but that procedure came with its own risks.

Haden scheduled a procedure but, bothered by her lack of options, took to some of her own research. A Facebook group for women with uterine fibroids featured a post by a woman claiming to have a minimally invasive surgery on the east coast that fixed her problem.

Haden canceled her other procedure and scheduled with Dr. Paul J. MacKoul, MD, co-founder of The Center for Innovative GYN Care (CIGC) and president and CEO of Tower Surgical Partners.

Courtesy of The Center for Innovative GYN Care

A 45-minute minimally-invasive surgery had Haden questioning whether or not it happened at all.

“I wake up and now I’m thinking to myself, did I really have surgery? Did they go through with it? Could they go through with it? And I put my gown back and look down and my stomach is flat,” Haden said.

Dr. MacKoul told Haden her fibroids were very, very large. She stayed in New Jersey following the surgery in anticipation of any problems, but she didn’t have any.

Soon enough, Haden was back home with her family, walking daily, working on projects, and even packing up boxes to move homes — a far cry from where a “barbaric” surgery would have put her recovery process.

“I would like this to be the standard general care that we have for women. That is not this this awful, awful life that we’re left with after the fibroid,” Haden said.

Courtesy: Center for Innovative GYN Care

Women in Haden’s family have undergone hysterectomies, but afterward face lingering effects like incontinence and low back pain. It’s now her goal to make these minimally invasive gynecological surgeries commonplace for women.

The Center for Innovative GYN Care estimates fibroids affect approximately 80 percent of women, making them the most common complex GYN condition. With the fibroids, many women also have complications such as heavy bleeding, pain, and/or infertility.

“I would like to obliterate them from the planet. But if we have to have them, at least give us a solution that our lives are not destroyed from them,” Haden said.

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