When we celebrate our Woman Crush Wednesdays, we often highlight celebrities who used their public platforms to share a fibroid journey. But this week, we’re taking a slightly different direction. This week, we’re celebrating Dartinia Hull, an average woman whose fibroid journey helped uncover a far more serious medical problem: ovarian cancer.
Dartinia is a 52 year old woman from Charlotte, NC, who recently penned an article about her story for Q City Metro’s website. Here is what she revealed: “
Three years ago, in yoga, I struggled to do a very basic move: up dog. It’s a stren
gth and balance move, and a counter to down dog, an upward backbend. It’s a move I sometimes nail and sometimes don’t, which is fine.
But as I lifted my upper body from the mat, my guts cramped, like my insides had twisted. I stood up and tried to walk off the cramp. That night, I rubbed the sore spot on my belly and felt a lump.”
Searching For Answers
After that discovery, Hull knew something was wrong, so she went to see her doctor. While she’d assumed that the problem was an injury like a hernia, she was immediately told otherwise: Hull’s doctor revealed she had a large fibroid (a non-cancerous growth of muscular tissue within the uterus.)
She then went to see her OB-GYN, who ordered an ultrasound and discovered that Hull had several fibroids. One of her ovaries had also shrunk to the point of disapearing. Because of her age and the size of her fibroids, Hull ultimately opted for a hysterectomy (something that many women can avoid if they seek alternative therapy options.)
But when she went into surgery to remove her uterus, doctors discovered something even more frightening: one of the three growths they’d diagnosed as fibroids was actually a cancerous tumor. Hull says: “
When we thought I had three fibroids, we named them Curly, Larry and Moe. Moe was the largest, and actually, the cancer. They didn’t do a CT scan, which might not have found anything, anyway, because Moe hadn’t ruptured.
The symptoms can mimic peri-menopause. A woman can have extended, heavy periods, which are debilitating and can lead to low hemoglobin. She is often fatigued, sometimes forgetful, and can have bloating and gastrointestinal issues and either pelvic or abdominal pain. A woman can feel full after only a few bites, and experience pain during sex. These symptoms often appear gradually. Because the symptoms of OC are considered “vague,” this type of cancer is one of the more dangerous of all diseases. Often diagnosed at a later stage, it spreads quickly. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women, more so for black women because of later diagnosis, even though black women have a lower rate of ovarian cancer than white women.”
Early Detection is Key
Thanks to Hull’s fibroid treatment, doctors were able to discover her cancer early enough in the game to allow for successful cancer treatment. Hull shared this article hoping that women will know that fibroid and cancer symptoms often overlap. And, in either case, they should not be ignored. Her message to other women is this: “If you notice symptoms (especially a lump in your abdomen), tell your OB-GYN or your primary care doctor. Even if you “just don’t feel right,” tell your doctors, and ask them to give you a pelvic exam.” Being that pushy patient just might be the decision that saves your life!