Chelsea VonChaz would have never thought period care and menstrual equity was in her destiny. The former celebrity stylist was feeling exhausted and unfulfilled in her career path when she stumbled upon a homeless woman with blood-stained bottoms during a traffic stop in downtown LA. It was on that day that she came up with the idea of #HappyPeriod—a non-profit organization that provides menstrual care items to homeless communities across the country. Today, the non-profit organization is dedicated to ending period stigma, promoting education regarding menstrual health all while addressing inaccessibility to menstruation products in impoverished communities. In this quick catch up with the Alabama native, she shares her recent fibroid story, and encourages period tracking for women who want to keep up with everything that's going on with their menstrual health.
Hey girl! Can you give us a little background on your fibroid story?
Of course! So, in September 2020, I realized my period was heavier than it ever had been and the abdominal pain was unbearable. Doctors recommended birth control, I refused and insisted they give me a pelvic exam and transvaginal ultrasound to see if something was wrong first. If doctors don’t listen, be demanding.
Both my exam and ultrasound results showed my enlarged uterus at about 8.5 inches, 1 submucosal fibroid in my uterus and 4 subserosal fibroids hanging outside my uterus. Once again, I was told to get on birth-control or tranexamic acid to control the bleeding. I chose the latter, and needless to say, tranexamic acid did NOT work.Doctors finally recommended surgery; a laparoscopic myomectomy, to be exact.
I went on to get 2 more medical opinions: one from@ThePeriodDoctor and another from @DoctorBruceBLee. As time went on, my symptoms worsened. Bloodclots, bleeding like running water, twisting cramps, fatigue and really painful sex.By February, my period had me in a chokehold. I bled from the 16th of February to the 28th of April. I was hospitalized by April 2nd. Every. Single. Day.
There was blood. During this whole charade, I was hemorrhaging, lacking mental fortitude and exhausted. My doctors? They didn’t do anything to stop the bleeding except book my surgery for exactly one month later. Bitch. I was through. SPENT! OVER it and all of it. I was losing an extreme amount of blood while already dealing with anemia. My hypothyroidism began to act-up as a result. Now, in April, I did something no doctor recommended. After reading, “Healing Fibroids: A Doctor’s Guide To A Natural Cure”, I immediately started taking soy isoflavone supplements, a DIM supplement and blood-building supplements. Chile, the bleeding stopped. // My surgery was done May 3rd. One dense, golf-ball sized fibroid was removed and I still have my uterus. I feel so free and my body feels brand-new, almost. I had my first period two weeks ago. And baaaaaybe, not one pinch of menstrual pain. Surgery on your womb is scary but I’m grateful.
What are your periods like post-surgery versus pre-surgery?
I’ve had one period since surgery that lasted four days. It was a moderate flow. Initially. I felt a pinch of pressure when I started bleeding but it went away. I was bloated again but I didn’t cramp at all. Whew, chile! Literally, I couldn’t believe it. I was just flowing and after 4 days, ya girl was good!
What changes have you made to your lifestyle since being diagnosed with fibroids?
Whew! I had to break down in order to rebuild a new lifestyle for myself. And, honestly, I’m not done yet. It’s a journey. I’ve decided to eat a more plant-based lifestyle and pay more attention to percentages versus calorie counting. I’m allowing myself fluidity and space to grow so I am not completely removing animal protein at once. That helps me ease meat out in a healthy way while cutting down and I don’t feel guilty about it. I actually think it helps with my energy and to keep my weight up. Being vegan or 100% plant-based is hard for me, so trust me, I’m still figuring that shit out.
You’ve mentioned that tracking your cycle played a huge role in knowing your body and advocating for yourself at the doctor. How long have you been tracking your cycle and what made you start tracking?
I started tracking my period in 2014 after discovering a couple of period-tracking apps. I didn’t start tracking my cycle until 2016 when I was diagnosed with fibroid tumors. I have a journal detailing my symptoms leading up to my period, my diet and cravings, herbal remedies and ovulation.
What does tracking entail? (Is it physically writing in a journal, using a digital app? Writing daily symptoms? Etc.)
All of the above, sis. Seriously, I think period-tracking apps are gold because they make it accessible and easy. Like reminding you to breathe, eat healthy, track sex or even take your pills. Writing in a journal is therapeutic for me, so, when I started writing about my period, that was another level of self-care I tapped into.
What have you learned about your body through tracking your cycle and why would you recommend it to other women?
The main thing is I now know my period is a fifth vital sign. My period will tell me everything I need to know about what’s going on in my body. Tracking your period also means getting to know your body. Paying attention to how you feel physically, marking down symptoms, even doing something about it. Taking action like making a doctor’s appointment, changing your diet, exercising and1 even resting means so much more to me now. Whatever feels right to you. Whatever helps you feel better about your connection with your period helps you feel more connected to your body.