Who is Cindy?
I could spend pages telling you about what jobs I have had, which countries I’ve lived in and where I went to school, but that doesn’t really matter to you, does it?
What matters is that I've been there. I get it.
I am a woman.
I ignored all the cues that my body was giving me that something was amiss.
I listened to my friends and doctors, who told me it is normal, part of growing older and to just suck it up.
I looked for magic pills and magic treatments.
I blamed myself.
I made a half-ass effort to try to fix it.
I didn’t talk about it.
I was tired and frustrated and felt sorry for myself.
Then one day I woke up.
I unloaded off the Larch ski lift at the Lake Louise Ski Area and looked across the valley at two sets of ski tracks weaving their way down an incredible backcountry ski run on a bluebird day in the mountains. They weren’t my tracks. They were my boyfriend’s and his ski partner’s. My heart sank. I didn’t ski tour very often because exercising for more than an hour was mental and physical torture. I was reasonably fit, but it felt like my body would not give my muscles enough energy for me to do anything physical for more than an hour. I played the victim. I let the fatigue and back pain make me angry and frustrated. I knew I had given up. And it made me sad. Strangely, at that moment, I was granted with the wisdom that some of the things I thought I couldn’t change, I knew I could. And things started to change (sometimes slowly), from that day forward.
I was suddenly empowered; empowered to stop taking a passive, sit-and-wait approach to my health. My life was now and I was sitting on the sidelines. No more!
You see, I was stuck. I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, non-cancerous growths on my uterus. 80% of women get them at some point in their lives (as the internet told me so it must be right). No biggie, right? Wrong. I still cried every time I left a doctorʼs appointment or gyno office. If I blindly followed what most doctors would tell me, I would have had a hysterectomy. Nice to think Iʼd never have a period again, but Iʼve kind of grown attached to my uterus. Not to mention instant menopause didnʼt sound fun.
I felt helpless. I thought I understood my body and couldnʼt figure out what I had done wrong. You could have timed a calendar to my menstrual cycle. Iʼve been regular since I was ten. I thought I ate healthy, I was active and my weight almost never fluctuated.
I began a journey, that included going back to school to be a nutritionist because I didnʼt believe that all my answers involved surgery or pills. Donʼt get me wrong, I like doctors. I respect their opinion and think they play crucial roles in our health care. But they are just players in the overall game. And most will tell you that they canʼt know everything (well, good doctors anyway). And Iʼve come to realize that a lot of my health lies in my own hands.
With some help from my doctor, lots of education, and some changes in my lifestyle and food, my fibroids have shrunk enough that they donʼt interfere as much in my life as before. The more important thing that Iʼve got out of this journey is that I feel more empowered. I feel more in control. I feel like I am heading into the rest of my life and health, way more aware! And realize that it is always an ongoing process. But it was anyway. And I like it that way.
I am very open with women I meet about what I do, and it makes me sad to know that so many put up with shit that they shouldn't put up with. I feel a sense of commitment to womankind (and the men that love them) to share this information and help them on their journey. So here I am.
Cindy Flegel, BSc, CHNC