The immense pain and side effects of the disease have had a major impact on every aspect of my life. My first three wedding anniversaries were spent recovering from surgery. My dream of being a hospital chaplain is on hold as my body cannot handle the long shifts and being on my feet. I had to make the choice to have a total hysterectomy at the age of 26 in hopes of finding some type of pain relief only to be met with further complications. I had to have repeat open abdominal surgery in 2011 in which it was confirmed that endometriosis had in fact returned despite the hysterectomy which included the removal of my ovaries.
Scar tissue from this surgery resulted in a total bowel obstruction which required major surgery and a three week hospital stay. After meeting with my surgeons and specialists, it has been determined that it will likely happen again given my history of endometriosis and scar tissue so every day is lived with a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop.
This is just a small portion of my story and I am only one of millions of women who struggle with endometriosis every day. Here are some of the facts and statistics:
- Endometriosis is a disease in which the tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus (called endometrium), if found outside the uterus, where it induces a chronic inflammatory reaction that may result in scar tissue. It is primarily found on the pelvic peritoneum, ovaries, in the recto-vaginal septum, on the bladder, and the bowel.
- Endometriosis affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide in the prime of their lives; 8.5 million suffer in North America alone.
- It accounts for a significant loss of productivity of nearly 11 hours per woman, per week.
- Endometriosis remains a leading cause of chronic pelvic pain and infertility, and accounts for nearly half of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed annually – though many may be needless, as the disease is not cured by the removal of the reproductive organs.
- Endometriosis has the potential to significantly impair quality of life, sexual function and satisfaction, and negatively impacts relationships, emotional and physical health.
- Annual associated costs to society due to endometriosis range between $70-100 billion annually.
- Signs of endometriosis include crippling menstrual pain, pelvic pain that gets worse after sex or a pelvic exam, chronically heavy or long periods, bowel or urinary disorders associated with periods, painful sexual activity, particularly penetration, significant lower back pain with menses, and allergies, migraines or fatigue that tends to worsen around menses. (Facts and statistics from the Endometriosis Research Center)
Endometriosis is so much more than “bad cramps” or “painful periods.”
I am writing you because endometriosis is a real disease and despite the fact that one in ten women battle it on a daily basis, there is not nearly enough awareness, accurate education (even within the medical field), and research funding. Until there comes a point and we “recognize the lack of large scale international clinical trials, lack of funding for research and, not least, the potential overlap of effort from country to country when centers work in isolation and can’t share data”, we will never find preventive strategies, non‐invasive diagnostic methods or ultimately, the cure” (Professor Robert Schenken, World Endometriosis Research Foundation).
I am writing in hopes that you will join our efforts in helping to raise awareness for endometriosis. March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month symbolized by a yellow ribbon. Many sports leagues turn pink in the month of October, and while I am not in any way minimizing the signficance of breast cancer and the importance of continued awareness and research, I would love to see some yellow displayed throughout the month of March. Not only for me, but for the 176 million women and girls struggling world-wide many of whom are wondering if they will be able to get out of bed and make it through another day.
As a long-time fan of NASCAR, I am asking if you will consider joining in our efforts to raise awareness for the disease. I am not asking for the entire field or every car to be painted yellow. Something as simple as wearing a yellow ribbon would make a difference and maybe encourage someone to look up endometriosis for the first time and make the decision to get educated and involved in awareness, research, and advocacy – or more importantly, get help for themselves or a loved one.
Thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and consider this worthy cause.
Please help spread the word by tweeting, sharing, pinning, and emailing this post as much as possible! You can find NASCAR on Twitter and Facebook and pretty much every team has a social media presence! The more people we can get to read and support this post, the better our chances of success! Thank you for taking on this challenge with me! You can grab the button in the sidebar to post on your blog, twitter, or facebook as well!