Vigilance. It’s the key to detecting problems affecting health concerns before they turn into larger, life changing complications. Vigilance means when something doesn’t seem quite right, report it to your doctor. And always stay current with recommended screenings. They can save your life.
For Cheri Heverly, 49, the symptoms that something was wrong were pretty vague and easy to mistake for signs of aging or approaching menopause. Typically a person who loves to be outdoors walking, gardening or swimming, Cheri couldn’t find the energy to do any of it.
The heavy bleeding she typically experienced with her monthly cycle seemed to be increasing, too. It was becoming a chronic problem that often made her choose to stay home rather than make plans. When she mentioned her concerns to her doctor, a screening ultrasound was performed which detected fibroids in her uterus
Uterine fibroids are typically non-cancerous tumors that grow from the muscle layers of the womb. No one knows for sure what causes them, but their growth (and shrinking) appears to be connected to hormone levels. Fibroids can cause a variety of symptoms including pro-longed or heavy bleeding during menstrual cycles as well as pelvic discomfort.
Cheri was referred to Dr. Natasha Alligood-Percoco for treatment and, after hearing all of her options, decided to have a minimally invasive hysterectomy.
“I really appreciated how Dr. Alligood explained all of the treatment options along with the advantages and disadvantages,” says Cheri. “Surgery was really the last treatment that we discussed, but it’s what I wanted. I know others who had the open procedure and their recovery was pretty hard.”
Dr. Alligood performed the procedure with assistance from a robot which also helped limit disruption to Cheri’s other organs. She is pleased that women in the region have access to this option.
“What’s interesting is that nationally, 60 percent of hysterectomies are still done with an open, invasive approach,” says Dr. Alligood. “But here at UPMC Susquehanna, the majority of hysterectomies are minimally invasive. We have all the capabilities of bigger health systems in a community setting where you can truly bond with your patients.”
Even though Cheri understood the benefits of the minimally-invasive approach, she expected to experience some pain following her procedure, but she never had any.
After her six week recovery period, she discovered that she had much more energy than before along with the ease and freedom to make plans. For other women who aren’t sure whether changes happening to their body are significant, Cheri encourages them to let their doctor know.
“Don’t let things go. If something isn’t quite right, run it by your doctor,” says Cheri.