Amid the applause of 1,100 guests, the Women’s Way 32nd Annual Powerful Voice Awards were presented in Philadelphia on May 6, 2009. The awards honored the accomplishments of Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR) Director Teresa White, community organizer and HIV/AIDS awareness advocate Waheedah Shabazz-El, and women’s rights advocate and activist, Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services (HERS) Foundation President Nora W. Coffey.
Women’s Way Executive Director Melissa Weiler Gerber says of the award, it “serves as a call to action to women everywhere, encouraging us to increase women’s influence in the media and make a difference in the community.”
Women’s Way is the first major women’s organization to publicly acknowledge the importance of educating women about the damaging effects of hysterectomy and the lifelong functions of the female organs. The award is recognition that hysterectomy is one of the most serious health issues facing women today. As demonstrated in Nora’s book THE H WORD, co-authored by Rick Schweikert, the hysterectomy rate is on the rise, and every woman with a uterus is at risk.
Women’s Way presented HERS with an excellent opportunity to talk about the issues, but the award presenter was a pharmaceutical company representative. Nora’s first thought was, “I can’t accept an award presented by someone from the industry.” HERS is an independent women’s health education organization with a policy of not accepting support from the medical industry.
“Because there was no opportunity to address this issue publicly at the banquet,” Nora said, “in keeping with HERS’ mandate of education, I presented a copy of THE H WORD to the pharmaceutical rep as she handed me the award. That way, she could educate herself and her pharma colleagues about these issues.”
Since 1977, Women’s Way has been the country’s oldest and largest women’s funding federation. This award brings into focus the imperative to provide women with the information required for hysterectomy informed consent.
We welcome any ideas you might have about getting exposure for HERS and THE H WORD. Each time someone reads the book, it’s another person who has been educated about these issues and someone who may educate others and join us in changing the law. Each time the book is in the media, in a bookstore, on a blog, or on a library shelf, the number of people who have access to this vital information is magnified many times over.
This is an opportunity to put hysterectomy information into the hands of those who need it…to save a girl, to save a woman, to save a family. To prevent hysterectomy from becoming the legacy of another generation of women and girls.
Mad as Hell says
Congratulations, Nora, on receiving this award! Of course, it’s much deserved and long overdue. Thanks for all your hard work. And thanks to Rick, Irene and all others who work so tirelessly to end this atrocity.
Congratulations Nora, very well deserved! You have one of the toughest jobs on earth!
You are an amazing woman.
Let us hope that this much deserved and long awaited award will open even more doors. Draw more attention to the insanity that is our society. I remember the woman’s movement. Funny how it seems, now, that nothing much really changed. We were just allowed to go to work AND take care of the family. We are still,’The weaker sex’.
Eureka says, I see the award, and I know that it is an honor, and, yet, to me, it pales in comparison to what I feel that Nora, Rick, and all of HERS so very rightly deserve.
Without so much as a pause, so many lives have been severed asunder in the darkness that is not knowing…I lay on that field of darkness, my sobs somehow silenced, my body intact no more…I see my sisters, my daughters, my friends, innocently approaching the place where I was felled. Panic for them engulfs me…Then I look to the horizon, to the dawning of a new day, and there, framed, is this slight, straight, silhoutte ever advancing, ending the darkness, ending the not knowing…and I now believe that hope is not lost. That those so dear can be spared my fate.
This is how I truly feel about HERS and Nora and the work that the foundation does. Yes, congratulations are in order this day– but know that every day brings my heartfelt gratitude.
Congratulations! Nora Coffee and HERS Foundation on receiving the “Powerful Voice Award by Women’s Way”.
Nora, you are the strongest, most amazing woman I have ever seen or had the privilege to talk with. Nora, you literally saved my life after I was Hysterectomized with an underlying, life threatening medical condition. Nora, you saved my medically damaged altered life, providing me and my husband compassion, correct medical information, referrals and sincere empathy…Thank You.
Nora, if it wasn’t for you, millions of women would still be in the dark about what was done to them. Thanks for bringing the truth out and trying to save others from the same fate!
CONGRATULATIONS NORA. No one deserves this award more than you. You are always giving, but never wants any praise for what you are doing. You have saved so many lives and have worked so hard to inform women about the consequences of having a hysterectomy/castration. I appreciate everything you have done for me and my family. KEEP CHARGING LIKE A RHINO. Nothing can stop a Rhino and you are one.
Gynecologists are medically “Stalking” women in reality. Gynecologists are “Stalking” women in epidemic proportion (with legal clearance) using false medical information to attack women with knives rendering women de-sexed and causing iatrogenic illness (illness caused by physicians for physicians) by deceit for profit.
The correct medical information starts with educating and warning women about the accurate medical information calling the de-sexing operations what they really are; Sex Organ Amputation/Castration…NOT…Hysterectomy/Oophorectomy.
The “Ruling Class” could end hysterectomy/oophorectomy by deceit for profit (the most heinous act of medical deceit recorded in history) swiftly, why don’t they?. Why are women deceived and maimed by these heinous gynecologists responsible for stopping the epidemic?
Brian A. Urquhart says
KUDOS for the award from Women’s Way. Well deserved and long overdue. I only wish that my wife had learned about you and your foundation before she consented to her unnecessary TAH/BSO a little over 12 years ago, as she would have avoided the known serious and permanent quality of life altering consequences which she lives with every day, painfully reminding her of her error in trusting her “highly respected among her peers” physician. What a barbaric practice it is. If your book had been available then the surgery would have been avoided. It should be required reading for every intact woman, not just those who are considering the surgery.
Brian A. Urquhart
Ann Arbor, MI
Yes, I agree with the above poster that this book should be mandatory reading for every intact woman even if she’s not considering any surgery. I had never considered a hysterectomy, yet found myself in the Emergency Room in pain. I was subsequently hysterectomized and castrated without my consent, and found out soon after that it was totally unnecessary, and my condition only required a minor surgery. If this could happen to me, after I emphatically stated that I did not want a hysterectomy, and refused to consent to it, then it could happen to any unsuspecting woman who unfortunately finds herself in ER needing help. Every woman needs to be armed with the information in this book so she can protect herself.
I already posted my Congratulations to Nora as well as Rick and Irene for their tireless efforts to end the atrocity of hysterectomy.
I agree with the previous two posters. Every woman needs to be keenly aware of this very dark, twisted side of “health care.”
I’m almost ashamed to admit this but back in my 20’s or so, I recall wondering why so many women had hysterectomies although I wasn’t close to anyone that had one.
Fast forward 20 years later when I had one day of fairly extreme abdominal pain (I was not one to have any cramping or pain). I went in to see my long-time “prominent” ob/gyn (his name is all over the hospital’s campus), the one that successfully treated me for infertility. You know the rest of the story – “large cyst that must come out…everything has to go…ovarian cancer…you’re scheduled for surgery next week…don’t worry about hormones; they’re easily titrated.” Then his surgery scheduling nurse, his “partner in crime”, says “you’ll be fine; you’re thin and in good health.”
Although I had some nagging thoughts, I kept telling myself that ovarian cancer is oftentimes deadly. It didn’t help that my family pushed for me to proceed. And then there were a couple of coworkers who’d had hysterectomies that acted like it was no big deal. I can barely look them in the eye now.
How I wish I’d listened only to my inner voice and no one else!
Just goes to show the power of trust and respect and an M.D. behind the name! I will never completely trust an M.D. again!
Mad as Hell says
Regarding getting the truth out about the female organs – it should be part of sex education in schools. At least this would plant the first seed. And it should be presented to both sexes.
I emailed my school district about it and they said they would consider it but I doubt it will be addressed.
I’m glad you are working toward educating women on these long term risks. I had a hyst in 1995 for a 2 cm benign fibroid that was supposedly the cause of bad bleeding that did not even happen every period. I had no cancer. In retrospect it could have been just hormonal shifts.
Sure enough I was advised to have a hyst. 15 years later a loop of my small intestine dropped into the space left between my rectum and my vagina; it made me have incomplete bowel moves. It was misdiagnosed on a scan that my sigmoid colon was dropping into this space when I went to make a bowel move. I was advised to have sigmoid colon out. Then in surgery 2 docs “fixed” 6 other things that were actually not sagging (far exceeding my consent). My entire large and small intestines scarred in; no other doc wanted to deal with the wreckage. The original docs just left me to die.
I was unable to eat due to small bowel obstructions and unable to defecate due to large bowel ischmic scarring result of this “fix up surgery.” Finally one doc stepped up to the plate and freed the trapped loops of small intestine and made me a permanent ileostomy. This was the only thing that could be done to save my life.
BUT had I not had the hyst originally, no intestine of any kind would have shifted anywhere and I would not have compromised health today. This is a true hysterectomy after-effect horror story that I absolutely feel the need to share. I don’t mind having it posted on your blog. I want other women to know how truly dangerous this surgery is. The uterus is the core muscle of the female pelvis; it holds everything else together. Without it, you literally fall apart. I cannot believe that hysterectomies are still being done for benign fibroids with all of the advances medicine has made since 1995. Maybe even before that but I was not informed. I may end up actually dying from the long-term sequela if anything goes wrong with my ileostomy.
My neighbor just had a hyst for benign fibroids. I did not know she was planning it. She was “thrilled.” I just wished her a good recovery and will pray for her every night.
Congratulations on your award Nora and Rick.
You are to be congratulated for your unselfish approach to the commitment you serve on a daily basis. I’ve no doubt you are thanked over and over for the information you pass on to women looking for a humane solution to their health and well being.
Congratulations. This award is only one of many that you DESERVE. Thank you so much for your dedication to women and their families, friends.
I still wish I had found you long ago before my life was taken away from me. I wish my husband would have. My ex to be now. That is over and done and of course, we cannot change time….as we all wish we could.
AS you know, I am still suffering from the many adverse effects of my LAVH in April of 2005, along with many personal issues that you are fully aware of.
If it wasn’t for you taking the time to talk to my friend, I would have never have guessed that this entire time I was and am still going through the effects of that very unnecessary surgery. The isolation, anger, grieve, guilt, all of it. Thank you so much Norah.
I still have such a long road ahead of me. I am still struggling to get past all of the above and so much more as you know. Now I have found out that I have more health issues to contend with. I wonder if any of it has to do with my surgery. I don’t dare ask all they do is lie, lie, and lie anyway!
I hope here at some point in my life soon; I will be a bit more settled. When I am, you WILL KNOW. For then I will take the time to bring as much awareness as I possibly can to “The H Word” etc… I am full of ideas!
I may be broke and still dealing with thoughts of suicide everyday but I will not ALLOW THIS to ever happen to my daughter! She and I still have to find a way to bond again, which isn’t going to be easy. However, the one thing I can give her/leave her is the information she needs not to have this ever happen to her.
It will be very painful for me, it may kill me yet, but I need to write my story for her, so that one day when she is old enough she will understand what happened to her mother and why I was no longer the woman I was before that horrid day.
EVERYONE DON’T BE AFRAID TO SEND YOUR DOCTOR THE “H WORD”. GET IT OUT! LET’S ALL UNITE, JOINING HANDS TO CHANGE THE LAW ONCE AND FOR ALL! WE NEED TO SAVE FUTURE GENERATIONS OF WOMEN SO THEY’RE LIVES AREN’T RUINED LIKE OURS!
A very exhausted Jane!
P.S. Still having some computer problems and in the middle of so much. However, if anyone in the Wisconsin, Dane county area, surrounding areas, would like to contact me please do so at email@example.com. I will get back to you as soon as I can. I do plan on getting another email address in the future aimed solely at bringing more awareness to the HERS FOUNDATION , along with a new my space page etc…….
I must share this. My 83 year old mother (ex OR nurse of 30+ years) and I just had a talk. I left The H Word out for her to read and it took awhile for her to pick it up but she did finally read it.
We have been going round and round as to the hysterectomy 'hoax'.
Tonight, she approached me with a few articles torn from magazines on loosing weight 'at my age'. About firming up my stomach muscles. (I was 'given' a TAH) Exercises WE cold do TOGETHER. I had previously explained to her that I had informed my doctor pre hyster that I had back surgery in 1989 and was instructed to stay thin and keep my muscles strong.
She remembered this and wondered why my doctor did not offer further tests or have a pathologist present during surgery to see if a TAH need be done.
I told her it was not about what was best for me. It was about money in his pocket.
I am crying as I write this as she finally agreed. She AGREED. She now understands.
Thank you Rick and Nora.
I had a hysterectomy when I was 38, It totally changed my life. I am 51 now and I still feel as if I am living in someone else's body. I was always small(size 3 or 5)now I'm a 14. I gained 20 lbs. within the first 6 months, I gained 40 lbs within the first year; had my hormore replacement changed 5 times. Sex use to be a pleasure.(it's just work now) I started hurting all over soon after my surgery(I'm not a cry baby either)the doctor said it was depression and gave me Zoloft. I hate medicine, but would try anything if it helped me to stop hurting, it did a little(very little). I finally stopped taking it after 10 years
Anyway, I really caution women to do their homework before getting castrated. I would go back to the bleeding and hurting in a heartbeat if I could, because this is far worse!
Thanks for listening