USA Fibroid Centers is proud to welcome Melissa Muganzo-Murphy as an Ambassador. A talented actor and filmmaker, Melissa (she/they) founded Muganzo Entertainment, a black-centric entertainment company. Melissa’s philanthropy has supported the liberation of people from all backgrounds, specifically focused on overlooked minorities.
Joining forces with USA Fibroid Centers in the fight against the fibroid epidemic, which impacts 26 million women in America, Melissa is working to raise awareness of disparities people suffering from fibroids often face. “Finding out that there’s a national clinic and a national initiative to end this worldwide epidemic on fibroids was so exciting.,” says Melissa, who knows from her own experience how challenging it can be to get information about fibroids and available treatment options .
Why Fibroids Matter to Everyone
Who can get fibroids? Research shows that while African-American women are three times more likely to develop fibroids, up to 70% of all women in the U.S. have fibroids, which is a higher prevalence than breast and ovarian cancers.
“It’s not just black folks,” Melissa says, “And it’s not just a cisgender woman issue, right? It is an everybody issue, and it would be an injustice on our part to not pass down our knowledge about fibroid symptoms and treatment.”
As a black woman and a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, Melissa knows from experience that identity can affect what treatment options are presented to patients. As an ambassador, she wants to advocate for those who are often unheard of or underserved. She believes that fibroid treatment should be patient-centered and empathetic. “At USA Fibroid Centers, we strive to provide personalized care for all our patients, which means listening to them, and speaking openly with honesty. It also means offering them an accessible treatment option, Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE),” says CEO and Co-founder Dr. Yan Katsnelson.
Melissa’s Fibroid Journey
Melissa was very active as a young woman and loved performing on stage. She participated in cheerleading, dancing, singing, and other sports. However, the fear of possibly bleeding through her clothes overshadowed her performances.
The constant worry about bleeding through her clothes made her wear only black. She also struggled with terrible acne that would often ruin her makeup looks. Even once she started taking birth control, she still bled for up to six months straight. “What Melissa didn’t know, like many women whose stories we’ve heard, was that she was dealing with fibroid symptoms,” says Dr. Yan Katsnelson upon hearing Melissa’s story.
Everyone in Melissa’s family told her that heavy bleeding was a rite-of-passage, so she shrugged it off as no big deal. She continued to normalize her symptoms, thinking she just had to deal with staining the bed and the car seats, or how they were taking a toll on the intimacy in her relationship.
At 23 years old, Melissa came face-to-face with fibroids. She was in Walmart, bleeding uncontrollably through her clothes and emotionally frazzled from years of accidents like this. She was with her mother who called a family friend, who was a nurse. When their friend heard about Melissa’s heavy bleeding, she told her there was no doubt about it: she had fibroids.
To confirm what their friend thought, Melissa got an ultrasound, which showed 3 uterine fibroids. When treatment options were presented to her, Melissa was denied a hysterectomy due to her young age, even though she wasn’t interested in having any more children. Sharing her story as a Fibroid Ambassador, Melissa aims to help other women be more informed than she was of available treatment options for fibroids.
Dr. Yan Katsnelson says, “The lack of treatment options being presented to patients with fibroids is why it’s so important to raise awareness of a non-surgical treatment, Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), which doesn’t force women to choose between invasive surgery or relief from fibroid symptoms.” Melissa was told that since hysterectomy wasn’t an option, she could take birth control for her fibroids. While birth control was recommended to help alleviate her severe menstrual symptoms, she wasn’t aware that her fibroid growth could be influenced by the hormones.
While the direct causes of fibroids are unknown, fibroids can grow back or multiply. When Melissa’s fibroids returned, she sought treatment a second time and was again denied a hysterectomy because of her age. With birth control still presented as her only option, Melissa felt she had to look elsewhere for help. She looked into herbal remedies and did more research about fibroids to understand her condition better. “I’m African and West Indian. Holistic and herbal healing is, like, in my blood. It’s just what we do, especially since there’s much mistrust for hospitals and doctors, especially from black folks’ points of view,” Melissa said. She believes that if she had known about UFE when she was looking for alternative treatment, she would have made it her choice right away.
“Unfortunately, Melissa’s experience is not an exception: we’ve heard many stories from women who felt like they weren’t getting the answers or options they deserved when seeking treatment for their fibroids,” says Yan Katsnelson M.D. Melissa is excited about being chosen to be a Fibroid Ambassador so she can help spread information about UFE as a treatment option that doesn’t have the same risks as surgery and can be more effective than birth control.
What We Want You to Know
You have options when it comes to your fibroids. We understand that being diagnosed with fibroids can be scary and overwhelming. Like Melissa, you may not even know where to start with treatment. You can begin by taking our symptom quiz to understand what your body may be telling you.
If you’re experiencing symptoms like Melissa’s, constantly afraid of having an accident in public, or bleeding through your sheets at night, we want you to know there is hope. UFE is a non-surgical treatment option that can help you find freedom from your symptoms and help you take back control of your life. Request a consultation with one of our fibroid specialists today, or give us a call to learn how we can help you take back control of your life. They can help you learn about all your options and what works best for you and your body 855.615.2555.