The year 2017 saw some exciting changes in the way society and the medical world views endometriosis. Finally, thanks to our persistence, the world is beginning to see the invisible disease and hear the once-voiceless voices.
While I believe that we need others to support our cause and we can’t and shouldn’t do this alone, I feel that for now, at least, we need to be the leaders of this revolution.
I wholeheartedly understand that for some of us, the effort of keeping our bodies and lives going is hard enough and that there is little to no energy left to fight further. Yet, whether you’d like to take action in a big way or in a small way, there are things we can do to help create change in 2018.
This is a step that can be done on any level that you can manage. It can start and end with your doctor if that’s all you have energy for this year. Many of us know that a number of GPs are not fully educated about endometriosis. In fact, I know women who have had to spell the condition out to their doctors and explain what it is.
For those with doctors who know about the condition, be sure to talk to them about all of your symptoms, so that they learn to recognize the more unusual symptoms that can be dismissed as other conditions. Alternatively, let them know if you find relief from something. An endo nurse once asked me for my personal experience and took notes on how the diet had helped me.
If you want to go bigger with education, there are a number of ways you can do this. Starting with your own circle is an easy way to begin: Let your family and friends know what the disease is and what life is really like living with it. As endometriosis affects one in 10 women, it’s likely they know someone else who is struggling to be diagnosed, and this could indirectly help them.
If you want to educate on a larger scale, the next idea could be for you to …
Support a charity
A small number of endometriosis charities exist around the world, but they are popping up more and more. You can become involved in various ways.
You could help educate women about their rights and how to better manage the disease as a support group leader with Endometriosis UK, or take part in the Endometriosis Worldwide March. You could even get involved with the newly founded Endometriosis Coalition, supporting them with social media and advocacy work.
Research what’s available in your country as well as any online opportunities you could do from where you live.
Take to social media
If getting involved as a volunteer is a bit too much of a commitment at this time in your life, another brilliant way to be an advocate is through social media. Instagram has a strong endometriosis community with women sharing their stories on their personal accounts or creating accounts dedicated to the cause.
Posting regularly can be difficult, so think about the level of commitment you want to make, and this will help you decide if you’d like to just share more information on your own social media accounts or if you’d like to start something bigger.
Endometriosis was debated last year among MPs in the UK thanks to an online petition. In recent years, online campaigns have created change due to pressure from the public on governments across the world. Following the success of these campaigns, I suspect we’ll see more in 2018.
Just as a word of warning, I would minimize the number of options you tick as there are a great many causes in this world. While I’d love to support all of them, it can be overwhelming. It’s wonderful to support causes close to your heart, but when your health is vulnerable, it’s important to protect yourself as well.
If you’d like to do something a little different, you could try starting a blog or a YouTube channel. Perhaps you could start a book club with endometriosis patients in your area, or maybe you could arrange days out or coffee mornings.
Just be mindful of your capabilities. Unless you’re a doctor or a medical specialist, you can’t give medical advice. Protect the individuals you work with and yourself by being clear with them about your boundaries and limitations.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.