Tanika Gray Valbrun rarely stands up without looking down to make sure she hasn’t bled onto her seat. She checks before leaving staff meetings at CNN, where she works as a news producer. She checks when she steps out of her car. And before she married her husband, she would check repeatedly during dates.
“I’ve had to learn how to pad myself” to keep the bleeding contained, she says. “I know the whole formula—what kind of underwear to wear, what kind of tights, what kind of Spanx. I’ve tried and tested everything. It’s become a way of life.”
For Valbrun, 41, it’s life with uterine fibroids.
Throughout the 25 years Valbrun has lived with the benign tumors, they have caused menstrual bleeding so heavy, she’s become severely anemic at times, requiring emergency blood transfusions. She’s endured excruciating cramps for nearly a third of every month. She’s undergone two surgeries to remove them. And until recently, she gave up on wearing white.
“It’s a simple thing,” she says. “Like, who cares, why not just wear black? But I love clothes, and the fact that I had to sacrifice wearing white for these benign tumors—I wasn’t feeling it.”
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