Supporting Endometriosis and Rebekah's Story
Since I was young I have always wanted to be a performer, having danced from an early age it was always my dream to travel the world and perform on cruise ships. Sadly, this was all cut short while at performing arts college when I started to feel unwell and could no longer perform.
Shortly afterward, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis and the week before my 18th Birthday I underwent surgery. Despite being in constant pain I felt I had to finish my exams and coursework and I did so while recovery home.
Unfortunately, I soon realised that I would not be able to fulfill my dreams and gave up dancing due to the continual pain I was in and the daily symptoms and side effects that often leave me very sick and require monthly hospital treatment.
Endometriosis for those who don’t know is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and even places like the bowel and bladder. This can cause extreme amounts of pain, scarring, lesions, adhesions, ovarian and other cysts.
For some women, this occurs once a month when they have their period but for others including me, it occurs at multiple times throughout the month sometimes even daily.
Endometriosis can affect women of any age and it can take years to be diagnosed. It's a long-term condition that can have a significant impact on a women’s life, and there is no cure but there are treatments that can help ease the pain such as pain medication, surgery, and Hormone treatment. As yet, none of the treatments have proved to be full-proof or risk-free.
This suffering is often compounded by the fact that the symptoms often go undiagnosed as each woman suffers differently. Below is a table of key symptoms of Endometriosis including a column of those I have suffered myself:
Although I am a positive person, I have been hugely affected by my diagnosis. The future I had carefully mapped out since I was little has changed irrevocably. Not only that the way I live my life has changed and I now have to pre-plan every little thing I do.
Unfortunately, because of my endometriosis, I can get exhausted from doing the smallest thing so a full day at a shopping centre can actually make me very sick. I get fatigued, nausea, and migraines and have to rest in bed the whole next day just from being out all day before. Not much fun for a young fun-loving 19-year-old!
Despite all the preparation I have to do every day: ensuring I take my medicines with me, watching my diet so that I don’t encounter digestive problems during my day and the chronic pain, I remain optimistic even being described as “giving joy” by my dad (and his boss because I encouraged him to take the job with MIH) and all those who meet me. Instead of letting my illness get me down, I greet every day with enthusiasm- no lying in bed until 12 on weekends like most teenagers. I want to make the most of all of my days!
Since being diagnosed I have got involved with Endometriosis and their support groups have proved invaluable to me. At these meetings, I have a chance to meet with fellow sufferers and share our stories. With there being no cure, these meetings are often very tearful and sufferers can feel like there is no cure which makes the charity works for Endometriosis even more important.
For me, I am grateful that a charity like Endometriosis UK is pushing for more to be done especially educating people about the illness and supporting research to help women and young girls like myself. It helps to know that there is still hope and inspires me and my fellow sufferers to believe that the only way forward is to try and stay positive. I know that I can only help myself and that I shouldn’t give up on myself and encourage others to do the same.
So why support Endometriosis UK? While I accept that there are many worthy charities that need support, despite affecting so many women Endometriosis is massively unrecognised. The average woman will go through 7 years of suffering before it is diagnosed on the NHS. In my case, this diagnosis came more quickly as my Grandma had suffered similar symptoms so these were recognised very quickly. Unfortunately, others are not always so lucky and many suffer in silence for years.
I have already created a donation page for Endometriosis UK for my 18th birthday on Facebook to promote awareness and. have also signed up to do a Worldwide EndoMarch which is the largest, internationally-coordinated endometriosis awareness platform of its kind. This march is taking place in dozens of cities around the world on Saturday, March 28, 2020.
I have also encouraged my Dad to do a skydive for Endometriosis and to set up a just giving page for people to sponsor him and although I look forward to seeing him squirm, I am immensely proud and humbled that he is doing this to support me and the charity.
I hope that this blog has given a better insight into Endometriosis but further information can be found at https://endometriosis-uk.org/ and I hope you will all join me and MIH in supporting this very worthwhile charity.