After years of pain and suffering, Winnie Chan says she feels like a brand-new woman—and she has endometriosis surgeon Dr. Tamer Seckin and his handpicked team of surgical specialists to thank for it.
"I feel so great. Like there are no [painful] pokes anymore," she describes of the stabbing pelvic pain that plagued her for 14 years. "That’s why I’m so thankful for my team. They’re definitely angels."
Chan's journey to pain-free took 22 hours on the operating table in back-to-back surgeries.
It all began when Chan, 30, came to Seckin Endometriosis Center in July 2017 with trouble urinating and heavy, incapacitating periods.
She could barely walk.
Seckin immediately realized Chan was in serious trouble. During her examination, "He said, ‘If you were my daughter, I’d send you to the ER right away,’” she recalls.
Chan rushed to nearby Lenox Hill Hospital, while Seckin readied a team that included Urologist Dr. Michael Brodherson, and general surgeon Dr. Panagiotis Manolas. When she awoke from the emergency surgery, Chan learned the trio had labored for nine hours to remove all traces of endometriosis.
Inside Chan, Seckin and his team found adenomyosis, Stage IV Endometriosis, frozen pelvis, and endometriomas, or endometriosis-filled cysts. Endo was also found in her bowels, so Chan underwent a bowel resection. And there was finally an explanation for her urinary problems: hydronephrosis. Essentially, endometriosis lesions had snaked around her bladder and ureter, choking both and causing her kidney to swell due to the backup of urine.
"Dr. Seckin did the surgery laparoscopically with only three [incisions]," says Chan. "It was a very successful surgery. He actually reattached my right ureter to the bladder. It was like reconnecting the pipes." Dr. Brodherson also placed a stent inside Chan's ureter to help free up the flow.
Unfortunately for Chan, her endometriosis nightmare wasn't over just yet. By December, she began experiencing those familiar painful periods of the past. Seckin ordered up an MRI, and both were floored to learn her frozen pelvis had returned yet again. On Feb. 1, Seckin and a team of five surgeons including Brodherson; Manolas; Seckin Endometriosis Center associate surgeon Dr. Karli Goldstein; and Colorectal Surgeon Dr. Peter K Hon; converged on Chan for a 13-hour long surgery. The team corrected the frozen pelvis condition again and removed portions of her rectum. When she awoke, she looked down to find herself wearing an ileostomy bag.
After that marathon procedure, Chan says she is forever grateful to all of her surgeons.
"This team for me, they’re my family right now," says Chan.
In May, she slowly started back at audit and consulting firm Deloitte and Touche. After months of wearing both the ileostomy bag and a catheter, she says her body is gradually learning how to eliminate the old-fashioned way. Asked what else she plans to do now that she’s feeling better, Chan doesn’t hesitate. “Enjoy some really good food. I would love to go back to Hawaii.”
And she’ll pack her positive attitude in her luggage.
“Just focus on the present and live every day," she shares of the advice that keeps her going. "Go do what you got to do to make you happy right now. Live the moment now. And that’s how you do it. Because if you think about the past or future, you worry to much be happy. This is a new life for me, a new body.”