Endometriosis Awareness Month
With March being Endometriosis Awareness Month, it is crucial that we continue to fight and raise awareness about this awful disease. Endometriosis is an illness the community still does not quite understand. Women are not receiving proper diagnoses, and not many communities exist for us to go to for help with our illness.
Following my endometriosis diagnosis, I was lost. I did not know who to turn to, what my next steps would be, and how I was ever going to deal with a permanent illness.
After a few days of sulking, I went to Instagram. I typed endometriosis in the search bar just to see what would show up. Low and behold, thousands of women just like myself popped up. As I began adding each and every one of them, I felt a bit relieved. Relieved in a sense that I was not alone.
Each woman’s story was unique in their own way. I quickly learned all about my illness and grew such a great community of friends.
Then I met Wendy England. I never knew just how debilitating this illness could be until I began to follow her journey. I quickly became intrigued by her story and followed her every move.
Wendy spent years attempting to convince doctors she was sick. In and out of many appointments, she left each one feeling deflated. Still sick, still in pain, and still not knowing what was going on with her. Doctors would laugh in her face when she would mention the thought of endometriosis being a possible factor. After 16 years of fighting, Wendy was diagnosed with endometriosis, adenomyosis, and ruptured cysts.
Unfortunately, by that time, Wendy’s endometriosis was at Stage IV. Stage IV is an advanced stage, which meant her uterus was attached to her bowels and she would need extensive surgery. Wendy chose to have a hysterectomy — the only known cure for adenomyosis (at the cost of removing the uterus) — at age 32. Childless and now without a womb, she hoped for some comfort.
She quickly found her suffering was not yet over. Shortly after surgery, she was back in the hospital. Although doctors were not concerned, they ran scans and examinations. They found that Wendy was suffering from two fistulas between her bladder and vagina from a surgical mistake. For months, Wendy rocked a new accessory: a catheter.
As I followed Wendy through her rough journey, I noticed one thing: Her beautiful smile remained. She created an Instagram account called @endoeducation, which offered support and a place for women to share their endometriosis stories. I quickly became a part of that community.
It was clear Wendy was on one mission and one mission only: to find a safe place for women suffering just like her and me, to talk about their experiences living with a chronic illness, and to seek help and support.
And that is just what she did. Wendy created Project Patchwork, a safe place for women suffering from chronic illnesses to be their selves, connect with other women, and share their voices.
I am honored to be a part of this community and am excited to see Wendy fulfill her dreams. Wendy has helped me throughout my endometriosis journey in more ways than she will ever know.
Project Patchwork is the exact type of community we sufferers need to see and is run by the most caring, strong, amazing woman I have ever met.
What Wendy went through for so many years, is what she is trying to prevent from happening to other women. Her vision is to help as many women suffering as she can. With her big dreams and even bigger heart, I know she will continue to make her vision come true.
You can find Project Patchwork at www.theprojectpatchwork.com.
Follow my journey here: @lifewithkimberli
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.