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Period Story Podcast, Episode 88, Latoya Busumbru: Keep Advocating For Yourself

My guest on today’s episode is Latoya Busumbru, a fibroids and women’s health campaigner and advocate. 

In this episode, Latoya shares: 

  • How fainting and vomiting during her period led her to realise that her menstrual experience was very different to that of her friends 
  • Why it took her over 4 years to receive a fibroid diagnosis 
  • The symptoms that led her doctor to take her concerns seriously 
  • Her negative experience of the copper coil
  • The changes she made to reduce the painful periods and manage the growth of the remaining fibroids 
  • What inspired her to start Womb Bae
  • The campaigning work she’s doing in Ghana to help reduce period poverty
  • And of course, the story of her first period 

Latoya says you shouldn’t shy away from advocating for yourself. She says it’s so important to do your research so that you get the support you need.

Thank you, Latoya!

Get in touch with Latoya:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wombbae/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@wombbae

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/latoya-busumbru-1a0912249/

Flow Wellness Ghana: https://www.instagram.com/flowwellnessgh/?locale=GB

Sponsor a girl in Ghana: https://paystack.com/pay/theflowproject


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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Le’Nise Brothers:

Hii Latoya. Thank you so much for coming on the show this morning. I’m really excited to speak to you, especially given that it’s Fibroid Awareness Month, and I know you have a really powerful story to share. So let’s kick off by you telling us the story of your first period.

Latoya Busumbru:

So my first period actually started in Ghana and I was on holiday. Yes. And it happened in Ghana. I was so shocked. I was about 11 or 12, I think, and yeah, it was just a shock. I was on holiday. So yeah, that’s where it started.

Le’Nise Brothers:

Was it a shock because you were away from home or was it a shock because you just weren’t expecting it at all and you didn’t know what to do?

Latoya Busumbru:

Yes, I wasn’t expecting it and it was away from home as well, so I wasn’t in my comfort zone, shall I say. But my mum was prepared and ready and was like, it’s just normal. We’ve got this. Go and get, we’ll get a pad and everything. And she handed it very well. So it made me comfortable and not so scared of what was going on. I had an understanding anyway that it would come.

Le’Nise Brothers:

So it came in when you were in Ghana, your mum was on hand with lots of different supplies, very understanding. Well, when you actually saw that you had your period, did you know what it was and the fact that it was going to come every kind of menstrual month, so 25 to 30 days or so, and this was something that was going to be happening for at least 40 years?

Latoya Busumbru:

Yes. So my um did say this is not one time only come every month, but you have to write down. So we wrote down the day it came, and we obviously will wait for how long it will last. Then I guess we would count. So she taught me how to do all of those things. So yeah, I had quite a pretty good start of my period.

Le’Nise Brothers:

Okay. So you emphasised the word start there. So this was at 11, and how was your period throughout your teenage years?

Latoya Busumbru:

So throughout the teenage years, I guess it started to get heavy and I started to get pain. But again, I just thought, oh, it’s just normal. You are bleeding down there, in my mind, and you’re going to get a bit of pain. So to me, I thought it was normal. Then as I got older, I guess into my teens, like 16, 17, that’s when I said no, because I started getting symptoms of vomiting and fainting and always going to the medical room. So I knew that my friends are not experiencing this, why am I experiencing this? So it’s clearly not normal. And then I went to the GP to discuss my symptoms and they gave me, they said medication and I had acne at the time. Obviously you’re going through adolescence. So they said, okay, take the pill for your acne as well, and it should help with your periods. And that was around 17.

Le’Nise Brothers:

Okay. And was this a decision that you made yourself or was your mum with you?

Latoya Busumbru:

I think because of the acne was bothering more to be honest than the period. She was like, yeah, just go and see if it will clear your acne. And then obviously getting there and me explaining, oh, I have these symptoms as well with my period, I’m always calling in sick to college and going to the medical room. This is what’s happening to me. So he gave me the mini pill for the acne and the periods. So it was a decision I made just to help my acne and just see if it could help the periods as that’s the advice they gave.

Le’Nise Brothers:

And I want to go back to what you said about your periods they started to get painful. This is before you started vomiting and fainting. And when they started to get painful, you thought that that was normal? Can you talk a little bit about where that idea of pain being the norm for having a period came from?

Latoya Busumbru:

I think in my case, I would ask my friends and some would say, oh yeah, I get period pain. That’s normal. So sometimes it’s like you follow what your friends are saying, but they weren’t experiencing the fainting and the vomiting and they saw me faint and vomit and have to help me. So that’s when I said, okay, you get cramps and everything and people do get cramps. But mine were excruciating pain cramps, not like, oh, little cramps, and I’m ready to go about my day. Mine were being in fetal position in the medical room or being sent home and being in fetal position the whole day at home. So that I knew that, yeah, there’s something not right with me.

Le’Nise Brothers:

And what about your mum and any other female relatives? Did you see them having really painful experiences of their period as well?

Latoya Busumbru:

No, especially my mum. I feel like maybe I was delusional because I was young. I guess she just maybe covered it, but as I’ve gotten older and reached this age, she said she never experienced period pain the way she’s seen me over the years and being helpless and not knowing what to do when I’m crying and we have to call the ambulance and things like that. I did ask her, I said, um, did you ever experience this? She said, no. So it was kind of strange to her why I’m experiencing these symptoms.

Le’Nise Brothers:

Okay. Then, so then at 17 you went to the doctor, you got the pill for acne, but also to help deal with the painful periods. Yes. Did they do any other testing or did they just give you the pill?

Latoya Busumbru:

Just the pill and just say take, at the time it was, Nurofen was used a lot as, yeah, they used to take nen and at that time my dad used to live in America, so he used to bring me things like Advil and stuff like that. I said, this will be a bit stronger, a bit better. So he helped on that side of things, sending me things, and every time I go to America, I’d buy all those medication to bring back to the UK. They were working at the time. Yeah.

Le’Nise Brothers:

Yeah. So I’m Canadian and I used to use Extra Strength Advil or Extra Strength Tylenol.

Latoya Busumbru:

Yeah, that’s the ones Tylenol too.

Le’Nise Brothers:

With my period. And yeah, they were effective, but I think now using those strong painkillers as a teenager, it’s just too much.

Latoya Busumbru:

It was too much. Yeah. Yeah, it was.

Le’Nise Brothers:

You went on the pill and then what was your experience like of your period, or your withdrawal bleed while you were on the pill?

Latoya Busumbru:

To be fair, for three, four years, it was manageable. I wasn’t getting heavy. It was okay. And then I just started, as you get older, you start researching and you start educating yourself about the pill, and you’re like, no, that’s not good. And I was just like, I need to get off this. I need normal periods, so let’s see how this works. As I’ve gotten older, I know when you get older, your body changes and my acne had cleared anyway through again, researching and just not, I was using, there’s a face, a face wash in America. Proactiv. Yes. So I started using Proactive that worked, but then it was giving me, I feel like it was burning my skin. So I think I just was like, I’m done with the medicines and everything. Let me, it’s obviously from within inside me, so I need to tap into me and find out what’s going on rather than always relying on the doctors and all these medications. I have to go the natural way. So I stop the pill around 19, and then my periods were regular and they were more stable after I came off the pill. Obviously when you come off, you get that whole, you bleed a lot just for your body to get right, shall I say. And then from 19 to about 23, I started experiencing pelvic pain, really bad pelvic pain.

I was like, oh my God, it’s come back again. So what is this? Then I took it seriously and I complained to the doctors and they were like, oh, you’ve been experiencing this for a long time, Latoya, it’s normal. I said, no, this is a different kind of pain. Every time I come on my period, I get this sharp pain in the left side. It’s not normal. Then one day I started bruising from that, bruising, I saw bruising and I showed my mum, I said, oh my God, am I internally bleeding? So we called the GP and he said, come in. And then they were like, oh my God, we’re going to refer you to a gynecologist. And at that time I didn’t even know what a gynecologist was. I was like, what the hell? Obviously I’ve had been to the doctors, but I’ve never been referred to a specialist. I guess I’ll say that because it’s just take this and take that and let’s see how it goes and we’ll monitor your period. It was never a referral. I’d taken blood tests because there’s times I would be weak and they’d say it’s my iron. So when they refer me to the gynecologist, they did the scan and she’s like, oh, you have a fibroid. And that was like, what is a fibroid?

No clue.

Le’Nise Brothers:

So it was only, I actually find this quite incredible. So you went on the pill at 17, you went to your doctor about, ostensibly about the acne, but the painful periods were a big issue, and then you then came off of it at 19, and then you started experiencing this pressure for about five or so years, and it was only after that was taking about seven, eight years for them to actually do an ultrasound, give you a referral and do an ultrasound. I find that actually quite crazy. So you found out that you had a fibroid and you had never heard of fibroids before. You didn’t know what they were. So what did they tell you about them and what did they tell you about how to manage the fibroid?

Latoya Busumbru:

So the gynecologist at the time, she was actually a female, and she said, oh, you have a fibroid just casually. I just looked at her and said, what is a fibroid? What is that? I, she said, oh, Black women get it a lot, so it’s normal. She’s like, but it is in your, she called it the pregnancy sac. I’ve always used that term. That was what was said to me. Obviously it’s in the uterus, but she said it’s where if I was to have a baby, it would grow with the baby in the sac within that sac. 

Le’Nise Brothers:

What?

Latoya Busumbru:

Yeah, so they said I had to remove it because it was literally in there growing. Yeah. She said, I definitely, so they asked me, do you want children in the future? And I said, yes. And she was like, yeah, we’re going to have to remove it.

Then in my mind, I was like, my gosh, what is this? And there was no leaflets, Le’Nise, at the time. So this was in 20, I was about 25. So this was in like 2018? No, 2015, sorry, apologies. So early 2015, I had the operation September2 015, and she was just like, yes, you have a fibroid, we’ll send back the information to your doctors and we’ll book in for you to have surgery. And I was just like, so when I got into my car, I just started crying. It was raining as well. I was something out of a movie, and I just put my hands on my steering wheel and cried my eyes out because I went online and it was just reading about fibroids and infertility. So my mind was just an overdrive, like, oh my God, I can’t have children and this has affected me. And then obviously I spoke to my mum and I asked her, do you know what fibroids is?

She looked at me like, no, she has never experienced fibroids. I was like, okay. And then there’s some information that it will tell you that it’s hereditary. And so I think I was literally losing my mind because I was trying to get the education so bad and trying to get all the information. Why have I got it? How comes my mom hasn’t got it? Why has my cousins got it? No one has told me. My aunties on my dad’s side, on my mum’s side. So it was something that I was literally trying to piece together, but I became educated from that day until now that we are here. Yeah.

Le’Nise Brothers:

I want to go back to what you said about the doctor saying that it was a pregnancy sac. I’ve never heard, I’ve never heard fibroids being explained like that before. So I mean, for someone who’s listening and they’re thinking, I don’t even know what a fibroid is. So fibroids are non-cancerous growths, and they can be on the outside of the uterus within the lining, muscular lining of the uterus and actually within the uterus itself, and they can grow to different sizes. So some can have fibroids the size of a cherry, some can have fibroids the size of a watermelon, but I never heard, I even thinking about it logistically how a fibroid would be in the pregnancy sac. That doesn’t make sense to me.

Latoya Busumbru:

It doesn’t. And even I said it on another podcast and they were like, some of the comments were like, she meant uterus, but I was like, no, that’s what she explained to me. So I’m literally telling everyone that’s how it was explained to me. I know that it was in the uterus, but how it was explained, it’s in your pregnancy sac . And I’m like, okay. So I’ve just taken that aboard with me throughout the years until this day just to say that’s how they explained it.

Le’Nise Brothers:

And you know what? It actually just kind of speaks to the level of education that even amongst doctors that still needs to be done about women’s health conditions, especially what we know about fibroids and actually how common they actually are and them being explained to you like that. It’s just so shocking. 

Latoya Busumbru:

Yeah exactly. So that happened, and then I had the surgery. They even actually canceled my surgery because they said the doctor was going on annual leave or something, and I’m just like, really? I had to wait. It was meant to be actually in July, and then they put, their doctor had to go on annual leave, and then I had it in September. So after that, before that they did say to go on, is it the coil? Is it the non-hormonal coil?

Le’Nise Brothers:

The copper coil?

Latoya Busumbru:

Yes, the copper, sorry, yes, the copper coil. It would help minimise or just help with the flow and everything. So I did say, okay, so which they did during surgery, I think they can do that with obviously your consent. So I woke up, everything was fine, and then within a month, Le’Nise, my body wrapped it badly to the copper coil. I just started feeling sick and getting these palpations near my vaginal area. But every time I’d walk, I’d get a shock and pain and I was like, this is even worse than me experiencing that pelvic pain before I was diagnosed with fibroids. So I went to her, the actual doctor, and I said, I haven’t been feeling well, and I think this is not right for me. They’re like, no, you’ll get used to it. We tell people to try for three months. So I actually did say, okay, I’ll give it a go.

But it was like for two weeks I was still getting that whole palpations, that something was punching me there and I said no. So I went to a clinic and the lady, the doctor removed it, and then after that everything was so much better, obviously from the surgery they removed it, everything was so much better. And then it reached three years, 2018, I was getting the different symptoms, and that was more clots, so the fibroids. So yes, and this process was quick and easy. Went to the doctor, they had seen my medical history and said, okay, you’ve had the surgery before. Let’s see. Let’s refer you back and see what’s going on. So then I had another ultrasound and they said I had about six or seven. They had grown, and the one that was causing the heavy blood clots and giving me blood clots was in the uterine wall.

So that was making me not have, my periods were stagnant. Yes. So I wasn’t having a flow, it was in the way. So that was why I was getting these really clumps of clots the size of a tangerine that was so bad and it made me severely anemic. So when they went, they said, I was like, I was adamant, Le’Nise. I was like, no, I can’t have another surgery. I need to tap into what’s going on. So after the first surgery, I did start researching the type of foods, supplements and things like that. As a kid, obviously your parents give you supplements and everything, but I said, no, I need to really know what’s right. For me, I started just eliminating estrogenic foods, the red meat, the processeed, the dairy. So I started doing that on my own without anyone telling me to see if life would be much better for me.

And it did. I haven’t eaten red meat for the last eight years. Now dairy the same. It can be hard and challenging, but now I know my body. So I started doing the supplements and then I said, I will try and figure it out. But then it got worse over four months. I said, you know what? Let me go back to the doctor. And they said, okay, we’re going to remove most of the fibroids, you have about six. Went there, found out there was eight, but they left two because they were really small and from their explanation, they didn’t want to scar any tissues. They couldn’t get to where they were. So they left the two there, and I’ve just been managing them ever since. So yeah, so then I had the surgery in 2019, November, just before the pandemic hit. I was happy to have that because I know in 2020 a lot of people’s surgeries were canceled. So I was lucky enough to get my surgery before we were on lockdown. Yeah.

Le’Nise Brothers:

Yeah. So you’ve been on quite a journey with the fibroids and doing your own research, trying to figure out the best approach for you. What made you decide that you had to, it seems like you did a lot of this on your own. Did you feel like you just weren’t getting the information and support from your doctors?

Latoya Busumbru:

Yeah, I remember. I feel like with doctors as well, they’re general. That’s why they’re called GPs, general practitioners. So they can only give me a surface and a little bit about the information because they’re not specialists. But the first doctor wasn’t helpful, but my second doctor, Dr Mayonda. I went to St. George’s Hospital. He’s amazing. He’s retired now and he, he actually gave me great information. I’ll always remember him eat more veggies, eat. It’s not like I had a bad diet, I just didn’t know what was right for my body. Do you know what I mean? So he was very much like, if you want children, hurry up quickly. And it’s like, I’m not just going to find a man, just have children what these fibroids do. And he did say he actually explained, fibroids do grow back. It’s something they’re still trying to research and figure out, even if you have surgery doesn’t mean that’s it.

They do come back and sometimes they say surgery makes it even come back more when you have the surgery. So he was very helpful in that sense. And he just said, just keep reading. There’s so many books out there. So he was very, very helpful and from that day he did that. Anyone that has asked me about surgery and fibroids, I recommended him to them and they will come back and say, oh my gosh, Latoya, Dr. Mayonda was very great. And there was one lady last year and I said, oh, my doctor, I just like Latoya. He’s retired. And obviously I didn’t know. So I was like, oh my gosh, I’m sure his team that has been there that has helped him, they’re a great team, so let’s see if we can help you find. So he was the only doctor that actually really helped me up until now, I guess. So that was 2019. I’m 36 now, so I was like 31. Yeah, yeah.

Le’Nise Brothers:

So when you last had your surgery, you had eight and they left two because they were very small. What sort of monitoring plan do you have in place to see the growth or whether they are growing, of the remaining fibroids?

Latoya Busumbru:

So after that surgery, I literally when I want to say vegan, vegetarian with a little bit pescatarian. So yeah, I literally stopped meat altogether in terms of the chickens and I guess the turkeys, I still wasn’t eating red meat. I got myself a nutritionist in 2022 and we did blood tests and things like that, and she helped me. It was a lot of money, but one of them ones, if I really want something I save and budget for it knowing that’s, yeah, I’m going to pay for that consultation and things like that. So from then, that’s how I’ve been monitoring, and I used to get really bad throbbing pain in my right leg and she said it’s connected, but she said you might have a magnesium deficiency. So we did some tests and I actually did, and that’s why when people asked me about the magnesium, I send them to your page because you are the queen of telling us what supplements help us.

Exactly. She said magnesium, but she never said glycinate. So obviously from watching you in the work you do, I changed it to the glycinate and it’s helped me so much to the point I only take paracetamol now Le’Nise for, I don’t even get cramps because I’ve changed my diet, I’ve got the right supplements that is helping me, and I’m just more in tune with my body and I guess being less stressed because I think I was in a stressful environment as well. I was in a stressful environment in terms of working all the time and studying at the same time. And so I think I was just overworked and stressed and I know that sometimes or more times stress can cause certain diseases and things to come to light. So I think I’ve managed, how I’ve managed the fibroids is managing stress. I’m not getting the symptoms. I used to get four day periods. Now I did go for an ultrasound earlier this year and they said I had three, but they’re tiny. They’re like two centimeters, three centimeters. So I’m actually managing them I guess through my supplement and dietary decisions and just trying to be happy, enjoy life and not be stressed.

Le’Nise Brothers:

I think it’s wonderful how as you say, you’ve been able to tap into the science and signals of your body and you figure it out an approach that works really well for you, and you have this monitoring plan in place, your fibroids, there’s three now, but they’re really small. Something I see a lot on the internet is when you see people talking about fibroids, you see these people coming out and saying, oh, I can help you dissolve the fibroids. I can help you shrink. I can help you get rid of them. As a fibroid and women’s health advocate, what do you say when you see things like that?

Latoya Busumbru:

In the beginning, I was like, oh my God, you can shrink fibroids. You become naive and you become desperate and you’re like, oh my God, how would we do this? So I was like, oh my God, we can do this. But now that I’ve educated myself a bit more and realized some say, oh, it came through my period and it came through, but learning and researching, they’re very hard muscly tumors and sometimes I’m like, how does that come out of you? They’re literally stuck. It’s hard to even sometimes the doctors say removing fibroids can be quite tough because of the muscle is very tough to cut sometimes. So in my mind I’m like, okay. But I just say to the women out there, really tap into yourself and just find a solution. I know there’s people out there that are very desperate, but once you tap into yourself and you start managing, you can actually live with fibroids and even have children as well. They do say, oh, infertility. But I feel like once you start to get your body right, you can have children. So I haven’t got children yet, but I am hopeful now that I know what’s right for my body, that time will come.

Le’Nise Brothers:

And you’ve then now taken your experience and the research that you’ve done and all of the work that you’ve done to find different practitioners to create this brand called Womb Bae, and to help advocate for others and help others learn others with fibroids, learn about how to manage the condition and how to advocate for themselves. Can you tell us a little bit about the advocacy work that you do and the inspiration behind the brand?

Latoya Busumbru:

So I guess the inspiration would be, it started in 2020, the pandemic when we were all quiet and still I’ve always been journaling my journey through fibroids. I don’t know why. I’ve just always been a writer into books from a young age. So I just started writing my feelings and I was like being a therapist to myself. So when I started, I just said, you know what? I needed me when I was young, so let me just put this out. I did my first video and I said, I’m going to talk about fibroids and my journey. And it just from that day in 2020 in May, it’s the best decision that I ever made. And I just started sharing my journey and what I’ve been through. And then other women just started messaging me and oh my God, you’re so resilient, you’re so bold. And in my mind, I wasn’t trying to be bold, Le’Nisee, I just was like, there’s people doing blogs on fashion and fitness, why don’t I just start blogging about fibroids and women’s health, endometriosis, PCOS.

So I do talk about those other conditions as well, as well as PMS and PMDD. So I just started and I just wanted to just advocate, and then I just started getting people wanting me to come on their platforms, talk about my journey, some panel talks, working with brands. So it’s something that’s now such, so passionate to me now, I didn’t think I would get here. I thought it would be just a little thing and oh, I’ll just go to the side. But it’s through everyone’s support, it has become bigger than I imagined, and I just want to continue doing that. And obviously I came back from Ghana in April, and again, I tapped into there ,about the period poverty, it’s so bad. Then the lack of education. So again, that’s the next project that I’m working on. Just maybe do some workshops or gather some ladies who would love to advocate as well to create some workshops out there whilst I’m here. So it’s mainly just here to support and give information and yeah, it’s come from the heart because it’s come from my experience and journey to help them. 

Le’Nise Brothers:

I want to hear more about the work that you’re doing in Ghana, but first I just want to ask you, with the advocacy work that you’re doing around fibroids and other women’s health conditions, have you seen the impact of the work that you do? What kind of stories have you heard from people off the back of the information that you’ve shared?

Latoya Busumbru:

So I do get some testimonials. I just got one from my cousin actually because she was taking ibuprofen and getting sick all the time, and I was like, you need to get some blood tests done, obviously. I always say, I always tell people supplements help and stuff. I said, get blood, said Stan, see what they say. And I think she was low in vitamin D, iron, they checked her magnesium and I told her all those three things and she was, oh my gosh, Latoya. So she just had, I told her see it out for three months and she was like, oh my God. She sent me a text and I need to actually post it and she said, thank you so much. This is the best period I’ve had in ages. Thank you so much. And I do get women as well, like your diet, the way you’ve changed your nutrition, the foods that you, sometimes I show what I buy from grocery stores, some organic and some, sometimes it’s just expensive the way living costs are now.

So I do get a lot of, you’ve helped me and you’ve really made me understand what’s going on with my body. And I always tell them, keep pushing, ask for a second opinion. Don’t keep just listening to the first doctor. So they will say, oh my gosh, the second opinion that he said, it’s worked for me. I’m on the waiting list to have operations. So when I hear those things, it’s just a joy to my heart because I never received that when I was younger, when I was looking online, everything about fibroids was in America heavily. It’s not really heavily talked about here now, but it is now as we have the likes of Dawn Heels, who’s my fibroid sister / ally. So through us having that, our platforms, we are literally opening a lot of women’s eyes to the fact that period, your heavy bleeding and pain are not normal, and we need to get you to get some help and we can find you that information. We’ve collaborated with doctors and things like that, so we can signpost you to people to be able to help you. So yeah, I’m trying and I’m going to continue. 

Le’Nise Brothers:

Yeah, I know that the work that you do is so, so powerful and I think it is really powerful when you hear from someone else who has your condition and has currently has found ways to actively manage that condition and has been successful with it. What would you say to people who say, well, you shouldn’t be doing this because you’re not a doctor, you don’t have a medical degree. Who are you to be talking and giving people bits of advice?

Latoya Busumbru:

Yes, I actually had that once upon a time, had a troll, but that was early on, and from that moment it was kind of like a wake up call because I wasn’t telling people what to do, I was just giving them advice. But now I always say, I’m not a doctor and I’m not a practitioner. This is my journey, my experiences, and this may work for you, but if it doesn’t, we all know we all have different, our bodies are all different. We’re not the same. So I do always highlight, I’m not a doctor, I’ll give the information and I’ll say, speak to a doctor first, but this is what worked for me. And then some will come back and say, oh my gosh, Latoya, I spoke to a doctor and what you’re saying is right or I understand where you’re coming from. And some will say it didn’t work for me. So I always do highlight that I’m not a doctor, but when I back I’m like, should’ve been a doctor. That should’ve been my profession maybe to tap into that. But God has shows a different way in our lives. So yeah.

Le’Nise Brothers:

I do personally think it’s really powerful when people with lived experiences share their story because doctors, they are quite general, even gynecologists who do specialize in women’s health, unless they’ve gone and done the research on all of the different conditions, there’s still lots that they don’t know. And obviously science is still evolving. So you’re constantly, in working in the space, you’re constantly learning every day. So I do think patient advocacy is so powerful and when you hear doctors saying things like, oh, don’t confuse your Google search with my medical degree, that’s just so condescending because living with a condition is very different to having done the research on that condition.

Latoya Busumbru:

But it’s funny how you said that because once upon a time I’d be in a doctor’s surgery and they’d actually go on Google search to see what’s happening. Sometimes it could be so ironic

Le’Nise Brothers:

And actually people can be quite dismissive of that, but if I go to see a doctor and I’m talking about something and they just do a little light Google of like, oh, what is that? Not like a condition, but something more specific. I actually find that a little bit reassuring because it tells me that they’re not so egotistical to assume that they know everything and they need to just sense check something or double check something. And it shows me actually they have this kind of research mindset, which I think is quite important.

Latoya Busumbru:

Yes, that’s true. I agree. Yeah, it’s true.

Le’Nise Brothers:

You do this advocacy work, you have people who are coming to you with different conditions, different levels of dealing with that condition. Going back to fibroids, what would you say to someone who is struggling to get a diagnosis?

Latoya Busumbru:

I’d say to them to don’t give up and keep going because I have had some DMs that have just been, sometimes I just want to cry the way they speak and are just telling me their desperation and their pain. I even had a gentleman from America that he said he just can’t see his wife crying anymore. It’s too much. He did know that I was in the UK, but obviously he just needed some help and some advice. I still need to actually chase him up. This is about two years ago, and to see how they are, and I think she lost her child, but I said to him that this is the best thing you’ve ever done for her to actually for yours, because some men don’t know because lack of education and maybe some women hide it from their partners sometimes. I said, this is the best thing you’ve done.

You’ve done the first step of trying to help your wife. So I did say, obviously the UK and the US are different in terms of help and doctors. So I did say to him, just speak to your wife, go with her to the appointments and just be her advocate. You can also speak for her because you see it daily, her pain. So I always say just to keep going and go for the first opinion. If that doesn’t work, the second, if the second opinion doesn’t work, the third, just keep going. It can be tiring, Le’Nise, because obviously I’ve been there, but you will get to that end point and someone will be there to help you.

Le’Nise Brothers:

And now you do this other work around period poverty specifically in Ghana. So can you just speak a little bit about the issues that you’ve seen, so maybe some of the stats and why you feel like this is another powerful place for you to advocate around?

Latoya Busumbru:

Yeah, obviously poverty is everywhere, because I’m from Ghana, I said that is the closest I can get to find the information. So my aim for this trip was to obviously go for Easter, spend time with my family, cousins, and also ask questions. So I put out a post that I’m coming to Ghana and I’d like to speak to any of the organisations in Ghana that do the work. I do, let’s meet. So I met two ladies. One, her organization is called Flow Wellness Ghana, and there’s another company that also do also advocate for women Pozo Wellness as well. So I met up with them, it was random, I even met them before I was flying out the next day. So they spoke to me about it and I asked them questions like, what’s going on here in Ghana? And they said, it’s very bad, but in terms of education, so people can donate. They said to me, people can donate to these countries. Sometimes they get donations of period pants, the knickers, but there’s lack of education and how would they wash it? It’s not as easy. So it’s great for them to start with the pads, then work their way to the menstrual cups, to the tampons because there’s lack of education. 

So their thing is they need more workshops. Flow Wellness are trying to, well, they’ve started to renovate women’s toilets, the girls school toilets, just to make it more feasible for them, hygienic for them, able to flush the toilet. It can be hard in Africa and everywhere. So that’s the project they started. And they also create their own pads as well, Flow Wellness pads, they have their own pads and we’ve collaborated this year to sponsor a young girl, 50 pounds or $50 just to help a young girl for the year. So give them supplies for the year. So I’ve even done it myself as I’ve donated as well. So I do put that out and ask whoever wants to donate, even if they don’t have the money, there’s other ways they can help. So we don’t force them to send us any money if they don’t have, but there’s other ways. And some will say, is there other ways I can help? Because I’d really love to be a part of this project. So that’s a project that I’m collaborating with them on. Yeah.

Le’Nise Brothers:

Great. And so all the links for that, if you want to donate will be in the show notes.

Latoya Busumbru:

And it’ll be on my page as well. Yeah.

Le’Nise Brothers:

What’s a really interesting is around what you said about the hygiene around menstruation, because Menstrual Hygiene day was in May, and something I see people talking about a lot when that day comes up is why is it called Menstrual Hygiene day? And I do this post I think nearly every year, but I think it’s a very Western perspective to complain about the word hygiene being used because as you just said, there is a hygiene element around menstruation. Having clean water, having reliable and clean toileting facilities, having a place to dispose of, if you’re using disposable pads, having it a place to dispose of that, that is going to be safe. You’re not going to be embarrassed. And it does make me chuckle when you see these people, they, oh, it shouldn’t Menstrual Hygiene Day. It should be Menstrual Health Day. And I just think you need to really expand your perspective a little bit.

Latoya Busumbru:

And that opened my eyes when they told me statistics and they said that there’s more, there’s at least. Is it 60% of women? It’s it’s cheaper to buy contraception pills than to buy period pads. And that literally broke my heart, especially in Ghana. I was like, that is crazy. They should be getting more access to the periods, not the contraception, because there’s diseases and it’s not as accessible here where we can go to the GP, get blood tests for HIV for all these STDs. So having contraception easy to get, that’s crazy. It should be the other way round. So when I heard that, I was like, my God, there’s so much work to be done here. So much work. And like I say, again, it’s just not Ghana, it’s everywhere. But because I’m from Ghana, that’s where I’m starting and then I’ll work my way round if I have the strength to get there.

Le’Nise Brothers:

Yeah, well there’s a lot of amazing women doing similar work to you in different countries around the world, and I am really hopeful when I see this work being done because it’s so powerful and it not only helps women and girls being able to have periods in a safe way, but also girls be able to go to school comfortably. And girls education is so important and that’s what helps things like economies grow, but it also helps start to break down some of the stigmas and taboos around menstruation.

Latoya Busumbru:

Exactly.

Le’Nise Brothers:

In terms of the work that you do and the advocacy work that you do in the UK, what do you have coming up next? Is there anything else that you want to point listeners to?

Latoya Busumbru:

So what I have next, again, I’ll bring Dawn, who’s Dawn Heels. We are collaborating on two projects. So the first one is for Fibroid Awareness Month. Obviously we’re here in fibroid awareness map, this’s the start. We have, we’ll be doing a video campaign about fibroids, just want to, we’ve asked women to come forward to use their voice and share their stories and journeys, and they will be filmed, it’ll be like a mini documentary, so that will be on the 20th of July. So we’ve asked whoever wants to be part of it, to send me an email at wombbae@gmail.com with just a bit of their story, a photo, and if they’ll be available on the 20th of July. So that will be happening. And then hopefully by God’s grace, once we secured the sponsor, we would like to do an event as well together on fibroids. We was hoping end of July, but it’s taken a while and we don’t want to rush it. So August, fingers crossed, we get our, finalise our sponsors and have the event just for Fibroid Awareness Month.

Le’Nise Brothers:

So that’s it. Fantastic. Yeah. Fantastic. What’s the one thought that you’d like to leave listeners with today?

Latoya Busumbru:

Just to advocate for yourself? I know that everyone says that, but it’s literally that serious to advocate for yourself and don’t shy away and don’t just let someone tell you it’s normal and you just go home and deal with it. Literally advocate yourself and tap into yourself, find out what’s going on. Pause, take a moment to understand and do your research. I always say when you’re younger, they always say education is important, and sometimes you’re like, oh, whatever. I’m going to stop going to school soon or college. But I do say, tap into yourself, advocate and do your research. I guess those are the three. I know you said one, but those are the three I always tell people to keep with them.

Le’Nise Brothers:

Yeah, that’s great. And what can people find you?

Latoya Busumbru:

TikTok, Womb Bae, Instagram, Womb Bae, LinkedIn, Latoya Busumbru. I’m trying to tap into the LinkedIn world. I’m still not understanding it, but everyone’s just like, you need to go on LinkedIn where you’ll meet so many great people. So yeah, those are the three, but the main ones are TikTok and Instagram. Great.

Le’Nise Brothers:

Thank you so much for coming onto the show, Latoya, it’s been wonderful speaking to you, hearing your story, and I know you’ll continue to do this amazing advocacy work.

Latoya Busumbru:

Thank you so much, Le’Nise.

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