‘I looked 9 months pregnant — but it wasn’t a baby’
'I had to explain to people that I was carrying a tumour, not a baby.'
Sarah Haslam’s friends and family thought she was pregnant with her third child when her stomach began to grow in 2019.
But after an eight-week-long period and numerous scans, it turned out Sarah, 44, had seven uterine fibroids, also known as fibro tumours, in her uterus.
Fibro tumours are growths, usually non cancerous, that appear on the uterus. They can cause pain and heavy bleeding.
Due to their small size, she was given a coil, in March 2019, to simply reduce the bleeding they caused.
Sarah, a full-time carer, said: ‘I was spending so much money on sanitary towels.
‘I was wearing two or three sanitary towels at a time and buying them in bulk.
‘This one time I was wearing white jeans and it looked like a murder scene.
‘I felt bloated and incredibly weak. I couldn’t leave my house, I had a puddle at my feet sometimes.’
The mum-of-three, from Radcliffe, Manchester, was left in ‘excruciating pain’ and eventually suffered a seizure at home.
She was rushed to Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester, where doctors realised the tumour was degenerating, causing sepsis and pneumonia.
She was kept in the hospital for two weeks to stop the infection from spreading further and, over the next nine months, was in and out of hospital and could ‘literally see’ the tumour on her uterus growing in size.
‘I felt incredibly heavy, but so weak,’ said Sarah. ‘I never left the house because I didn’t want people to ask questions.
‘My daughters were really worried about my health.
‘I was in constant pain, and I looked pregnant. I had to explain to people that I was carrying a tumour, not a baby.’
Symptoms of fibroids you need to know
Many women are unaware they have fibroids because they do not have any symptoms.
Women who do have symptoms (around 1 in 3) may experience:
- heavy periods or painful periods
- tummy (abdominal) pain
- lower back pain
- a frequent need to urinate
- pain or discomfort during sex
Finally, 18 months after Sarah was first diagnosed with uterine fibroids, doctors decided to remove the tumour. By now, Sarah had lost an enormous amount of weight. Despite her protruding tummy, she dropped from a size 12 to a size 4.
She underwent a six-hour hysterectomy at Oldham Hospital in March 2021, but she was left with a large scar that has destroyed her self-esteem.
‘I felt incredibly weak after the operation. I was in the hospital for three days before being sent home,’ she said.
‘It took me 12 months to gradually put the weight on and heal. I finally felt myself again.
‘But I was left with a scar like Frankenstein. My self-esteem is completely destroyed.
‘My friends say that I’ve changed, I’ve lost all my confidence. It’s a huge knock to my self-esteem.’
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