Monthly Archives: April 2011

Doctors – We Love


As I’ve managed HysterSisters.com, I’ve been impressed with the doctors who find us and understand the website’s value to the patients. They understand that 9 out of 10 women will search online for medical information (along with all the other searching she does for products, news and information).

Early in the years of the website, we would sometimes hear members share that their doctors told them to “stay offline and don’t read that stuff!”

But today, times have changed. I am often approached by physicians who tell me their patients have told them about HysterSisters and then I’m humbled when they thank me.

What we do at HysterSisters is to maintain our standing as a hysterectomy patient support website, never tippy-toeing into the realm of medical advice. We encourage our members to seek the best doctor to discuss their medical concerns. We don’t ever try to take the place of their relationship with their doctor. We are sisters with big hearts and wide shoulders!

Last year we added the Doctor Directory – a place our doctors (especially those who specialize in GYN surgery) can list themselves for the benefit of our 18,000 visitors each day and our 225,000 members.  We are grateful to have our growing list of doctors! Thank you!

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Thanks to our Forum Hostess Team


If you are a member of HysterSisters.com and have participated in a discussion in our forums you may have noticed a special group of members called “Hostess”.  These lovely ladies are volunteers who love the website and help make sure our members find the best answers, receive support for their health concerns with the extra bonus of a cyber ((( hug ))) or two!

I’m often asked “Where do you find your hostesses?”

We find them from within the member ranks. They are members who stick around after their hysterectomy, enjoy spending time helping other members and are available! Typically they have an area of special interest that helps our members in specific forums.

Over the coming months I’ll be highlighting our hostesses, one at a time, for you to get to know them. They are the best group on the planet – living from coast to coast and even over the borders and across the pond.

You can read more about the HysterSisters Hostesses and check out their individual bios too!

A special thanks, BIG BIG THANKS, from me to our wonderful hostess team! They make a huge difference in the lives of our members with their kindness and helpful answers. And each one has a heart the size of Texas!

The Delicacy of Mother’s Day


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Every year in May we face the delicate topic of Mother’s Day in the community forums of HysterSisters. In fact, this sensitive topic extends throughout the year in tiny reminders yet it seems to be more pronounced in May. Some members “get” our tippy-toeing through the topic carefully. Others, don’t understand.

  • During registration we caution members to not select a member username that includes reference to themselves as a mom or to their children.
  • In our TOS we explain that our member’s signature should not include mention of: babies, children, pregnancies (including ectopic)…..
  • And in our TOS we ask members to be cautious and sensitive to others when referring to your children/babies/pregnancy in your posts out of courtesy to the members who do not have children and are grieving the loss of this ability.

While it might seem that women with children would not be offended by mentioning of pregnancies and babies, there is a universal loss that women experience when their uterus is removed.

For those who’s womb was never able to nest a baby, it is an extremely painful realization. For those with children, the loss of the spot that nested their babies, is also a painful bottom-line. It is a deep seeded grief for our members, especially surrounding the hysterectomy experience.

In the early days of HysterSisters, one of our staff members, Susan, wrote an essay called “Daughters and Sisters” as a special way to celebrate the day typically denoted as Mother’s Day.

I’ve searched for weeks for the words to tell you all how much you mean to me and to honor you. YOU who have held each others hands, comforted each other, reached inside the very soul of each of your sisters and given each other the strength and joy to carry on through a very difficult time in each of your lives. Finally, I found this quote from Naomi Brutke from her poem “Sisterhood”.

“The community of women gathered round,formed a circle of hope that putmen…and death…to shame.”

Today is a very sad day for many of our sisters. It represents what they will never have or never be. My heart breaks for each and every one of you. As much as this day is for the Mothers of this world, I submit that we are all Mothers of this earthDaughters under our Higher Power, and Sisters by choice.

Women are the nurturers of this planet. Yes, many of us nurture children, both our own and those of other women. We also nurture all of life.

Whether we take care of a child, develop a career, tend to plants, or grow dreams, we are all nurturing Sisters and Daughters of our planet. We make a difference with every tear we dry, every hand we hold, every joy we share, every hope we bring to fruition. Heather Heizman once said “Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can’t buy.” It is a common trait we all share as nurturing, loving women.

To you, the sisters and daughters of this world, I propose that today be HysterSisters Sisters and Daughters Day. No matter where you are and what you’ve done in your lives, you’ve made a difference. You’ve loved, you’ve nurtured, you’ve befriended, you’ve given hope, you’ve shown strength, you’ve led by example, and you’ve made a difference.

Happy Sisters and Daughters Day to each and every one of you.

Susan wrote this post in 2001 and each year we pull it out as a reminder that the tenderness of sisterhood prevails.

Medical News: Benefit Seen for Ovary Removal at Hysterectomy


In the HysterSisters member survey we ask if the member will keep her ovaries or have them removed along. Over the years that we have been collecting the data, the statistics are fairly consistent. About 45% of our members have both ovaries removed. The rest keep one or both ovaries.

I’ve found it interesting. There seems to be occasional encouragement from various sources for women to keep their ovaries. Although controversial, many women have them removed if they are concerned about ovarian cancer even if there is no family member history.

Here is a news item that makes things even more complicated. Or confusing. The bottom line? Seems its still a toss up.

Medical News: Benefit Seen for Ovary Removal at Hysterectomy – in OB/Gyn, General OB/GYN from MedPage Today.

Making Sense of Hormone Therapy After Menopause


Over the years the news about estrogen therapy has been ambivalent. Some news is good. Other news is not so good. And if you are a woman who has had a hysterectomy and oophorectomy (ovaries removed) and you were pre-menopausal when you had your surgery, its even more frustrating. HRT is important to those of us who are on the young end of things.

Recently, more news has come out that points to the notion that the health risk post hysterectomy for younger women (this includes women in their 50′s) is not as high as previously reported.

Making Sense of Hormone Therapy After Menopause

Read over this report. I think its not only good news – but helpful!

Walking Down Menopause Lane


Are you walking down Menopause Lane?

Travaling through menopause can be a challenge. This generally is not a topic that women talk about openly. Typically it’s in whispers within small groups of trusted friends that you might catch phrases that indicate the struggle:

  • Hot Flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Fuzzy memory
  • Lack of libido

This list could go on and on – because the list of symptoms of menopause is lengthy!

At HysterSisters, we have an area for women to discuss their journey down menopause lane. You can find an overview to the topic by clicking here: Menopause.

You can also find help in the discussion areas where we have several areas – denoted with some specific details:

Join the discussions! The HysterSisters are here to help!

 

Thanks Mamapedia – Guest Post!


Sometimes I’m invited to write my thoughts about topics for other websites. Last month a blog I wrote about HysterSisters.com and GiveMeASecond.com was included on Mamapedia. I appreciate when others recognize the need for women’s health to get a special look.

Take a peek!: Why Women Deserve a Second for Themselves.

Don’t miss peeking at other topics they have at Mamapedia. Their website is a wonderful resource for women!

The HysterSisters Story


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I’m often asked about how I started HysterSisters.com. When I started it. How I decided to add this or that. Here is my story and I’m sticking to it.

My mother died of ovarian cancer in 1982. Her mother had died of breast cancer when she was a young woman. In the 1980′s and 1990′s, there was some news about the genetic connection between ovarian and breast cancers. Genetic testing, if it was around then, was not available. Both my OB/GYN and my sister’s, encouraged us to have an oophorectomy (ovaries removed) by the age of 40. Back then, it was not typical to have an oophorectomy without the uterus too – so it was assumed. We would have prophylactic hysterectomies and oophorectomies and have yearly mammograms.

My sister hit 40 first along with her hysterectomy. A few years later I followed.

I thought I knew what to expect but when I was recovering I had all sorts of questions about my day to day aches or twinges.

Then internet was relatively new and I tried to find information online about hysterectomy but came up lacking. I did find an awesome group of women online through AOL message boards that were recovering from their hysterectomies too. We swapped stories and questions and answers. We compared recoveries and incisions. We talked about hormone therapy. We complained about our swollen bellies.

I had taught myself a little bit of HTML and decided to take our frequently asked questions and create a list for a static website on the world wide web. This was a risk because in my little world, AOL was THE internet. But I somehow understood that there was a part of the internet users that didn’t have access to our little group on AOL. So, I launched HysterSisters – named after some Bedtime Time Stories I had written for my AOL friends that I called The Sisters of Hyster or HysterSisters.

So, in August of 1998, I put up the website with a list of frequently asked questions about the hysterectomy from a patient point of view and my bedtime stories. I added a simple guest book. At the end of the first year, I discovered that my visitors were using the guestbook to communicate with each other. They asked more questions. They answered each other.

Quickly, I searched for a message board for HysterSisters. I found a simple one – because back in 1998-1999 there wasn’t much to choose from. Many of my friends from the old AOL message board helped in the forum discussions. After only a short few months, we had to find something more robust and for a short period of time we moved onto a new community software and then by early 2000 we were on a shared hosting plan with a brand new software called vBulletin. (It was so new – I’m actually a charter member, I think!)

And its interesting to note that we started with only a few forums. Over the years as the traffic grew and the needs increased, we added forums as needed.

In short order, we grew our member numbers to 3000 then 5000 then 10,000 then 15,000.

Everytime I could add a new feature, I did! We asked for hysterectomy dates during registration so we could send timed email messages to our members to help them with specific information when they need it. We created a member survey that has helped to watch for changes in trends of hormone therapies and hysterectomy types.

The success of HysterSisters is truly because I have surrounded myself with awesome people. Awesome hostesses volunteer their time to watch over the discussion. An extremely talented web-developer, Logician, took over my html code and added his php and scripting ability to make the website perform as it should with added functions and features. Other women behind the scenes help answer email, ship store packages, organize and train new hostesses, write our newsletter, tweet for twitter and update our Facebook!

Today we have over 225,000 members with over 3,300,000 posts! We have over 15,000 daily unique visitors (and sometimes over 20,000!) and we keep right on going.

Each woman makes the difference in the lives of other women when they take the time to ask their questions or answer other members questions, offering comfort and kindness. It’s truly the best of human kind!

I’m still happy that every day I get to “work” at HysterSisters.com. Thank YOU for making it possible!

Blessings galore,

Kathy

Laparoscopic Surgery for My Rocks


I’m generally in good health. I’ve managed to keep my weight as a reasonable spot. I take a handful of supplements (omega 3, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, glucosamine chondroitin) each night along with my bio-identical hormones. I sleep well. I should exercise more but except for an occasional achey lower back, I’m in good shape. Well, for a woman my age.

Until this past fall when I realized I wasn’t feeling well. I was in the middlle of planning our daughter’s wedding so I pushed on through. Once the wedding was behind me, I made an appointment with my family doctor to take her a list of my symptoms.

First, we scheduled a colonoscopy for my routine screening. I sailed through that – except for the prep which was the worst part of the procedure. Bleh.

The results were normal so we then headed to the next round of checks. Abdominal sonagram. Which showed, not to my surprise, a rock collection in my gallbladder.

When she called me with the results she asked me: “What are you going to do?” We talked about my options – alternative diets and living with a diseased gallbladder. I then made an appointment with a highly recommended surgeon in our area. I talked to him about my surgery options.  Continue reading

How We Did It


Charlie Tango Production of Video for GiveMeASecond

This is a great article about my favorite production company Charlie Uniform Tango here in the Dallas area. Their wonderful team put together our video – Give Me A Second!

Read about it in this article: CharlieUniformTango Completes Video and by the way – they won an Austin ADDY award for the video too!

The incredible thing – besides the wonderful script, is that Charlie Tango and Liberal Media (the film company) spent countless hours auditioning our cast (sweet, precious little girls and one grown woman for the doctor’s office scene) and then setting up a (long!) one day shoot. It was done here in the Dallas area in one house, one school and one playground.

From behind the monitor - an outdoor scene.

To say that every single one of the little girls was absolutely precious – is an understatement. They were troopers, taking on the long day and the multiple shots as the pros they are!

And I had the thrill of my life tagging along, behind the scenes, sitting to watch the monitor while the camera crew and director did their incredible job keeping everything on schedule and finishing in the early evening.

If you want even more behind the scenes info about the production, watch a video ABOUT the production by clicking here on CharlieTango.com and Liberal Media Films.

Thanks Jeremy! Thanks Matt! Thanks Travis! Thanks Lola! And the whole crew! You are the best!