For years, Tanika Gray Valbrun, 36, dealt with her fibroids in silence, accepting them as part of her life.
“I always felt like this is just my journey as a woman,” says Gray Valbrun, a journalist in Atlanta.
But after undergoing emergency surgery last summer — when doctors removed 27 fibroids — Gray Valbrun decided it was time to end her silence.
“Every time you mention fibroids, somebody knows somebody who has them,” she says. “It’s so familiar to people, but there’s no national recognition for it.”
In March, Gray Valbrun founded The White Dress Project, aimed at raising awareness and galvanizing support for women living with fibroids through education, research and advocacy. She chose the symbol of a white dress because of what the piece of clothing represents to many women struggling with fibroids: A seemingly impossible choice, given the heavy menstrual bleeding they often experience as a result of the uterine growths.
In just three months, the campaign has picked up momentum, with nearly 900 followers on Facebook. Organizers have already drafted a resolution in Georgia to declare July as Fibroid Awareness Month in the state, and are hoping to get the measure passed in the upcoming General Assembly next year. Fulton and DeKalb counties, as well as the City of Atlanta, are also issuing proclamations.
Meanwhile, The White Dress Project is using this July to continue to spread the word about the campaign:
- July 10, Fibroids Advocacy Day at the Georgia State Capitol. The ceremony at 1:30 p.m. in the Rotunda is open to the public
- July 13, White Dress Party Brunch
- July 24, White Dress Suite Talk, featuring a dialogue with local doctors around women’s health issues, including fibroids.
Errin Haines Whack is a reporter who writes often on culture. She is based in Washington, D.C.
Battling uterine fibroids is one of the most significant health problems for black women of child-bearing age. Click here to read “Fighting Fibroids and Winning,” the first article in a Fierce three-part series on understanding how your body creates fibroids, how to treat them and how to keep them from destroying your health. The series launches Living Well: Fierce Reports on Black Women’s Health.
Other key organizations in the fight against fibroids include:
- The Fibroid Foundation is a patient advocacy partner of the Mayo Clinic fibroid research team. The mission of the Fibroid Foundation is to be a life-enhancing resource for the millions of women with fibroids, and a catalyst to bring attention to more holistic solutions to women’s health.
- The Fibroids Project is an online community and website dedicated to women suffering from uterine fibroids. The organization’s mission is to be a resource to women and medical professionals by providing information on the latest programs, procedures and research.
- The National Uterine Fibroids Foundation was organized to engage in charitable, educational and scientific activities related to the care and treatment of women who have uterine fibroids or related conditions of the reproductive system.
Show Us Your White Dress!
Upload selfies and other photos of you in a white dress to our Facebook page! And wear a white dress on Thursday in commemoration of Fibroids Awareness Month — first in Georgia and eventually nationwide.