Former Fox News anchor Diana Falzone suffered through excruciating pain & a diagnosis of probable infertility, caused by endometriosis. Could you also be suffering from this devastating condition? She has hope for you.
Diana Falzone was busy at work as a Fox News reporter one day in February 2016 when she suddenly felt a stabbing pain, like hot coals, in the right side of her abdomen. “I was at work and had just finished taping a story about the Puppy Bowl [before the Super Bowl] and along with this this searing pain I started to have heavy, heavy bleeding and I didn’t have my period,” Diana, 35, tells HollywoodLife.com in an exclusive interview. The relentless searing pain grew so agonizing that Diana dragged herself to a hospital later that evening, but disappointingly was dismissed with a flu diagnosis, that she just couldn’t believe. The following morning, crying in agony and still bleeding, she finally landed an appointment with an emergency gynecological service, but the doctor there offered no diagnosis other than, again — the flu — or a hormone imbalance. “If you can’t bleed it out, take these birth control pills,” she was told. Finally, at an appointment with a second gynecologist — this one a female — she was given an ultra-sound of her uterus and the doctor gasped — “How did they miss this? There’s a mass here,” she calmly told Falzone, who was writhing with pain on the doctor’s table. “The gynecologist explained that ‘something’ was attacking her body and she wanted do a test to see if her eggs in her ovaries were being affected.
It wasn’t long before Falzone was given the devastating news that she had the “egg reserve” of a 44 year old woman who was in menopause, and yet, she was only 33 at the time. “I was told that my chances of getting pregnant naturally would be slim to none and that even getting pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF) would be very difficult — all I was hearing was, ‘You are not going to be a mom,'” Diana recalls. She was heart-broken. So devastated that she barely heard her other diagnosis — that she most likely had a condition called endometriosis, and that she needed surgery to remove endometriosis lesions.
“I was so freaked out about the infertility, that I felt numb to the rest. I just wanted to get better to have a baby,” she recalls. Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus grows outside of the organ and attaches to other organs, like the ovaries and fallopian tubes. No one knows yet what causes it, but it’s estimated that 6 to 10 percent of women globally are affected. Falzone was one of those women, and while about 25 percent of women have no symptoms, she was now in constant pain. “It was excruciating and unrelenting. I was crying myself to sleep every night,” Diana says. Finally, she had a four hour surgery in March 2016 to remove endometrial lesions which covered her bladder, uterus and ovaries. “I woke up and it was a huge relief,” she recalls.
Diana dragged herself to work after ten days and within a few months embarked on a first round of in vitro fertilization treatments and was fortunate to have seven eggs retrieved, which she was able to have frozen for future implantation in her uterus. Falzone thought that her agonizing experience with endometriosis was finally over, but sadly, it wasn’t. And that’s one of the reasons that she wants to share her story here, and she wants other women to know that pain they might be feeling and their diagnosis of infertility could be caused by endometriosis, which so many doctors are not familiar with. Also, even after endometriosis is treated with surgery, it can come back. That’s exactly what happened to her. She didn’t want to believe it when suddenly, she was struck with the same shooting pain in her abdomen in May 2017.
“My surgeon didn’t believe it was endometriosis again, either, and so I sucked it up for 3 weeks until I started getting what felt like electric shocks going through my body and I got so sick, I had to go back into surgery,” she explains. This time, the endometriosis had spread even further, covering her ovaries, uterus, bladder, intestines and appendix. The endometriosis had actually given her appendicitis, and had fused her uterus to her bladder.
Afterwards, when she woke up, a group of doctors at the hospital warned her she had about three months to get more eggs retrieved through IVF and then 6 months to get pregnant. “We know you want to be a mom and you have an aggressive case,” she was told. Right from the hospital, she got in touch with a recommended fertility expert who was highly experienced in treating women like her, Dr. Jeffrey Braverman of Braverman IVF Reproductive Immunology in Manhattan.
By Sept. later that year she was able to successfully produce 5 embryos, under the care of Dr. Braverman. One was transferred into her uterus the day before Thanksgiving and ten days later, she was ecstatic to discover that she was pregnant. It was a miracle. “I was thrilled, but so scared that the pregnancy might not stick. I had to go for a blood test and ultrasound every week until I passed the 12-week mark,” she shares. Falzone’s pregnancy is considered high-risk, and she requires daily injections with a blood thinner, since a lot of pregnant women with endometriosis run a risk of developing blood clots.
Right now, she is five months pregnant and feeling great, after going through not just the hell of endometriosis but also after settling a lawsuit against her former employer, Fox News, for alleged gender discrimination. Ironically, after Falzone wrote a story for FoxNews.com about her struggle with endometriosis, she alleges that she was demoted and banned from appearing on air. Now, she is working on a book about endometriosis and infertility and wants other women to know that there is effective treatment for the condition and that with the right fertility treatment, they can become pregnant.
“Women who suffered from this in the middle ages were called witches and hysterics because they were in agony,” she explains. “I’m not forgetting other women. It breaks my heart. I want more treatments and cures.” It’s National Endometriosis Awareness Month and for more information go to the Endometriosis Foundation Of America, and for fertility help, go to Braverman IVF and Reproductive Immunology.