A Twitter user claimed doctors let a fibroid grow for years by dismissing her evident physical symptoms as indicators that she needed to lose weight.
Writer Marisa Kabas recently sparked an important conversation on social media by sharing her years-long struggle with body image and the healthcare system's role in it. In a now-viral Twitter thread shared last week, Kabas claimed that her doctors let a fibroid grow in her uterus for years by dismissing her evident physical symptoms as indicators that she needed to lose weight. "How do I know weight stigma in health care is real? Because I've had a mango-size fibroid in my uterus for *years* that has noticeably enlarged my lower abdomen, and not a single doctor looked into it. not one," she tweeted.
"I'm at the point in my fibroid diagnosis where I'm mad as hell. I'm mad at the 'world-class' endocrinologist who looked at my abdomen and said 'hmm... that's odd,' and decided to do absolutely nothing. I'm mad at every doctor who thought I just needed to lose weight," Kabas continued. "I'm furious that I spent years of self-loathing, wondering why I couldn’t flatten my abdomen, losing weight, and seeing it still protrude. I had fibroids—non-cancerous masses in my uterus, one massive fibroid, and three smaller. And I thought I'd personally failed."
Weight stigma is so prevalent and so detrimental to a person's self-worth and willingness to seek health care, that it has become a matter of "social injustice and a significant public health issue," said Rebecca Puhl, the lead author of two new studies: https://t.co/xiQwe8owyq— CreakyJoints.org (@CreakyJoints) August 5, 2021
Kabas went on to state that although she's had many folks — both medical professionals and otherwise — try to calm her by saying "at least they caught it now," it did little to quell her anger. "That is cold comfort because *they* didn't catch anything. I diagnosed myself. Full stop," she revealed. "I'm truly beside myself knowing that if I didn't follow a specific person on Twitter who wrote about her own harrowing experience with fibroids, which triggered the thought 'hey, maybe that's me, too,' I'd be carrying around this physical and mental weight indefinitely. I'm mad that it took becoming a full-time patient—one stent placement, two brain surgeries in three years—for me to feel confident that I know my own body best and that perhaps doctors missed something."
i’m just tired. and angry. i don’t want to do this again. i don’t want to go back to the hospital. the hospital is traumatizing. i have flashbacks to waking up in february after nine hours of anesthesia and feeling the worst in my life. i don’t want to do it again, but i have to.— Marisa Kabas (@MarisaKabas) October 6, 2021
"I'm mad that just seven months after my second [successful] brain surgery—which I only got because of intense googling by my dad to find the right doctor—I'm having to apply all the lessons I've learned about doctors to make sure my fibroids get properly treated," Kabas continued. "The one thing I didn't expect to be told after my fibroid diagnosis was, 'it's not your fault.' But it was so important to hear (and definitely not said by a doctor). I had internalized so much guilt and shame around not achieving thinness that I had resigned to blaming myself."
"Sometimes all we see is the obesity." - @fstanfordmd— Tricia Poultergeist 👻 (@traependergrast) October 20, 2019
The health effects of weight stigma accumulate over a lifetime. It shapes patients’ lifelong relationships with health care, which they see as a system that accuses them but doesn’t help them. https://t.co/6kJi5skwvB
"I am grateful to myself for trusting my intuition and advocating for myself. I am angry I had to do that. I am grateful to have the means to have surgery to hopefully fix it. I am angry that weight is a significant factor in our level of medical care. Somethings got to change," she concluded. Kabas' rant on Twitter inspired many others to speak out about similar experiences they'd had with the health care system where doctors didn't take their underlying medical issues seriously on account of their body weight.
I am so sorry. I was told for years that my chronic pain was due to me being overweight, even though 2 different doctors found degeneration in my spine. Turns out I have hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.— Yellow🍋 (@christine_haun) October 6, 2021
my doctor told me it wasn't worth treating me until i lose weight.— flask ehrlenmeyer (@eflask) October 7, 2021
never mind that until i got sick i was so thin people thought i had an eating disorder.
don't worry though. my doctor isn't in private practice anymore. he's just the state health commissioner.
I took my child, who is overweight, in with severe abdominal pain (I had given an ibuprofen for before the appointment) only to be told that it couldn't be that serious or they would be in more pain. The doctor wouldn't even touch my child. Now my kid hates going to the doctor.— Kirsten by the pond #Vaccinated (@KirstenMcEllig3) October 7, 2021
I found my own by palpating abdominal mass (I’m a veterinarian). I had complained of low pelvic pain for years to obgyn, incredibly heavy bleeding and frequent urination. Mine was 11.7 cm in size by the time I felt it. No dr ever mentioned it. Unreal— kat (@kaytee_brenes) October 6, 2021
The idea that I have to have my husband’s input and STILL have a doctor reject a very reasonable request, was so stunning.— Tricia Cave (@tdcave) October 6, 2021
I also have hashimotos disease, and I constantly get the “just lose weight” from doctors like I don’t have a medical issue making that harder.
…“some women just have painful periods”, lack of libido gets advice like “relax” and “show some interest” rather than looking at a hormone issue for which there are hormones… Men get Viagra. Women get shrugged at.— Mudhooks (@Mudhooks) October 6, 2021
Case in point. The “debate” about whether sexual drive in women us a “medical problem” held back approval for drugs that would help women feel whole was reignited with the development of a second drug. https://t.co/dxtwX4qqqE— Mudhooks (@Mudhooks) October 7, 2021
…it can be and is abused by men who don’t actually have a problem. But women who are desperate to get help for an actual hormonal problem are pooh-pooed and treated like they are unstable. The problem isn’t just about sexual desire. Libido affects far more than that.— Mudhooks (@Mudhooks) October 7, 2021
The medical community claims that it “isn’t that much of a problem for women” because they don’t think women really have a problem. How would they know? They don’t listen to women. Many women beg for help and are given “don’t get so worked up about it”. pic.twitter.com/85Sw8Dgo8H— Mudhooks (@Mudhooks) October 7, 2021
I am so sorry. I had 6 fibroids removed almost 2 months ago. The largest one was, as my doctor put it, the size of a baby's head. "That's why people think you're 4-5 months pregnant." Oh... By all accounts, given my symptoms, it had been growing for 13 years.— Jayce Ellis (@authorjaycellis) October 7, 2021
I spent five years telling my doctors that something was wrong with me only to be told over and over that I was fat and needed to lose weight. That was 5 years of suffering when I could have been getting treatment for #Lupus. #stopblamingpatients https://t.co/XgJDsSwLHg— Dr. Anna Maria Valdez (@drannamvaldez) October 6, 2021
My mom struggled with unreasonably heavy periods for a really long time until she nearly bled to death. While she was in the hospital, I saw a news program that talked about fibroids. I suggested it and then the docs decided to look. It was fibroids. Know the symptoms. https://t.co/h1QHyKaTWg— Carrie the Red (stripe) (@cfox0138) October 7, 2021
My kids never met their grandma because of medical fatphobia. She suddenly lost a lot of weight for no apparent reason. Her doctor just congratulated her. By the time they found the colon cancer, it was too late. I never got to meet her either. https://t.co/BXmpBVC6Ou— Eleanor Rose Dirt Apple (@EleanorDirt) October 7, 2021
This story is far, far too common. I had a friend who died of a melon-sized mass that caused her belly to protrude. It was written off by doctors as "excess weight." By the time cancer was diagnosed, it was too late to do anything and she had only weeks left.— Tam Frager (@Tam5) October 7, 2021
Weight stigma kills. https://t.co/X3wxItxGtp
My grandmother had a *1kg* fibroid in her uterus sometime during the early 90s. Went undiagnosed for years. She thought the pain and symptoms was just 'normal menstruation' https://t.co/btEnRXqwhw— Ira Zibbu (@cool_scootre) October 7, 2021
I almost died from a massive blood clot in my leg. Doctors told me for months that the pain was from "the extra weight" I carry. Ended up spending 10 days in the ICU getting the clot surgically removed and I still have pain from the nerve damage the lack of bloodflow caused. https://t.co/LrdACf4SX5— spooky bitch 🏳️🌈🤙 (@LikeSoRad) October 7, 2021
Every time one of these threads comes along, I force myself to read all the comments, because I only found out the solution to one of my chronic problems by talking to another fat girl after getting nothing from doctors for years, and basically this shit is my healthcare now. https://t.co/BOtATYNX5P— Bridget Bones's Diary (@BridgetCallahan) October 7, 2021
When I was fat nobody diagnosed me with my pcos or endo but after i lost weight from parental neglect they were able to give me my diagnosis as well as my ovarian tumor which is 7 cm large right now to this date they refuse to give me any form of treatment https://t.co/xkDhxX8Dvo— 🌟Moon Bear Art🌟 (@Giizis_Mkwa) October 7, 2021