A Star Is Born Single-Site Hysterectomy Lands Pediatric Nurse in TV Commercial
by Marie McAden Photography by Paul Nurnberg
Tina McGee never imagined her uterine fibroids—those benign, but troublesome tumors that disrupted her menstrual cycle—would turn her into a local celebrity.
After having a robotic-assisted hysterectomy to relieve her monthly misery, she was featured in a television commercial for Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s minimally invasive surgery program. The award-winning spot earned her instant star status.
“People would recognize me and say, ‘You’re the lady in the commercial,’” said McGee, a nurse at Beaufort Pediatrics. “Just this week, someone told me they saw me on TV again.”
Unlike her friends who complained about that time of the month, the mother of four had never had issues with her period. It was regular, lasted seven days and came without cramping. That was until she turned 52 and “Aunt Flo” went out of whack.
“My periods were so irregular I always had to be prepared for it,” she recalled. “Instead of lasting a week, they would go on for 10 or 12 days. The pain was so bad, I couldn’t go to work.”
An ultrasound revealed she had several fibroids in her uterus. Her OB-GYN, Dr. Gregory Miller of Beaufort Memorial Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists, suggested waiting six months to see if her condition improved before considering a hysterectomy, the only proven permanent solution for uterine fibroids.
“Fibroids stop growing and can even shrink when a woman goes through menopause,” Miller explained. “If you can wait it out, often the symptoms will go away or improve enough that a hysterectomy isn’t necessary.”
With her periods only mildly incapacitating, McGee was willing to wait. “I wasn’t itching to have surgery,” she said. “I thought I could take Motrin and tough it out.” But as each month passed, the pain grew worse. It got so bad, McGee couldn’t play with her twin grandkids during her time of the month.
“I’m a playful grandmother,” she said. “I love to run through the house with my grandkids and tickle them on the floor. I felt bad when I had to tell them I couldn’t play with them because I wasn’t feeling well.” A second visit to the doctor confirmed her fibroids had grown.
“I didn’t want to be in pain anymore, but I was afraid of having surgery,” McGee said. “When my mom had a hysterectomy years ago, they had to cut her across the bikini line. It took her weeks to recover from the surgery.”
Today, 95 percent of hysterectomies are performed using minimally invasive techniques, speeding up healing. Instead of a four- or five-day hospital stay, most patients can go home after just one night.
Miller offered McGee an even better option. Because her fibroids were small and centrally located in the uterus, he could perform the operation through a single, two-inch incision in the navel, leaving her with virtually no visible scarring. Traditional laparoscopic surgery requires four small cuts in the abdomen. “It was the shorter recovery that sold me on it,” McGee said. “I spent just one night in the hospital and was feeling fine after a week.”
About six months after the surgery, a representative from Beaufort Memorial called her and asked if she would be interested in appearing in an advertisement for da Vinci single-site hysterectomies. The commercial would feature McGee playing with the 5-year-old twins at Pigeon Point Park in Beaufort.
“I figured it would be something fun to do with the grandkids,” she said. “They had a ball.”
Family: Four children and 11 grandchildren.
Age she became a grandmother: 35
Years as a nurse at Beaufort Pediatrics: 20
Favorite pastime: Playing Bingo in Savannah.
Originally from: St. Louis. Her father was in the military and was stationed in Beaufort when she was 8. They left when she was 13, but returned two years later. “I’ve always considered it home,” she said.
Likes to read: “I’m a voracious reader,” McGee said. “I’ll read just about anything—magazines, books, even cereal boxes.”
Favorite vacation: Cruising in the Caribbean.
Her next vacation destination: Washington, D.C.