Lynx's Augustus aims for return in five weeks
MINNEAPOLIS -- The grueling rehabilitation Seimone Augustus finished for her fixed-up left knee seems insignificant next to the surgery she's recovering from now.
The two-time WNBA All-Star forward for the Minnesota Lynx had three non-cancerous but painful tumors called fibroids removed from her abdomen and lower back nearly two weeks ago, a procedure that brought her both emotional and physical stress.
One of the fibroids was as big as a baby's head, and another was the size of a grapefruit. Augustus knew about her condition and hoped to put off an operation until after the season, but after a few days of intense workouts last month the pain was such that immediate surgery became necessary.
"They said it was equivalent to a woman having contractions during birth," Augustus said Tuesday in her first public comments since the procedure.
There was another, deeper side of this situation, too: Her uterus needed to be taken out. Her ovaries were saved, so she can use a surrogate mother if she wants to have a baby in the future.
"My main thing was to be able to have kids using my eggs," Augustus said, adding: "I want women to know that if they do have a fibroid to try to address it as soon as possible before it gets to that point."
Entering her fifth season, Augustus is the league's all-time leader at 21.2 points per game for her career. She's clearly more than just a scoring leader for the Lynx, too, with a toughness that stretches beyond the colorful tattoos along her arms.
She aims to be playing basketball again in five weeks.
"She's so resilient," teammate Charde Houston said.
Fibroids cause bleeding, pain or other problems in nearly one-third of all women. The growths are a medical mystery, and symptoms can come suddenly. Fibroids account for 40 percent of the nation's annual hysterectomies.
Augustus said her mother and grandmother also had fibroids, and that a family friend died from complications during a similar surgery. Her plan was to have the procedure done in Louisiana, her home state, but quickly realized it was too serious to wait.
"It's a very intense process, a very emotional process. It was very scary," she said, adding: "The pain was so much that I couldn't walk. I couldn't really get around. I knew I wasn't going to be able to get on a plane to have the surgery. So talking to my dad and hearing his voice crack on the phone, I felt uneasy. I knew I had to get it done."
New head coach Cheryl Reeve was impressed by her "first experience of being in the trenches" with Augustus. When she saw the pictures of the size of the fibroids, Reeve was speechless.
"My mouth dropped," she said. "I said I will never, ever question that player's pain tolerance."
Another key Lynx contributor, guard Candice Wiggins, is also out for several more weeks while she recovers from surgery on her right knee. But the Lynx boast a player at each position who has been an All-Star at least once, and despite only two playoff appearances -- and no series won -- in the franchise's 11 seasons they are a confident group.
Reeve reminded them as much recently.
"She said playoffs is an expectation. Championship is the goal," Augustus said.