Campus News

Letter from the Editor: Endometriosis Awareness Month

By Arielle Vega | Posted April 8, 2016


GSW-VEGA

Everyday there are women everywhere fighting a terrifying cancer-like disease that less and less people seem to know about or are even aware of. Moms, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, friends, co-workers, classmates, celebrities, old, and young—endometriosis does not discriminate. Young girls can be afflicted with this as early as their first period.

 

 One-in-10 women suffer from endometriosis; that’s double the amount of those affected by breast cancer. About 176 million women worldwide are affected by this illness.  Throughout time many celebrities such as Hilary Clinton, Marilyn Monroe, Whoopi Goldberg, Dolly Pardon and Tia Mowry are just a few known to have this disease.

 

Endo is a disease where tissue that lines the uterus and is shed during a menstrual cycle called the endometrium grows on the outside of the uterus, causing the cells in the tissue to bleed. The accumulation of blood from these bleeding cells eventually becomes sticky and forms a kind of web inside the body, where a person’s internal organs would be. The bleeding can also cause cysts or, in rare cases, fuse organs together. In simpler terms it is like bleeding internally but with chronic off-and-on pain.

 

This incurable disease does mimic cancer but is not technically classified as cancer. Stages are still used to determine the severity of the disease. The stages start with one as the least severe and end with four as the most severe. However, the stage does not determine the severity of the pain felt by the woman because everyone has a different pain tolerance and differs in every case.

 

 

Many people ask, “Can’t I just take some kind of pain killers to numb the pain?” As Michelle N. Johnson said in her book,” Fighting Fiercely,” “It’s not just bad cramps, it goes far beyond that.” Over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol and Advil doesn’t really help at all. Women with endo tend to have to take high levels of painkillers like ibuprofen, starting anywhere from 600mg to 800mg. Some women even take as much as 2400mg of ibuprofen a day just to tame the pain.

 

For other women that isn’t even enough. Where painkillers like ibuprofen fail, opiate and narcotic medication pick up the slack. It isn’t uncommon for women to take things like narcotic- or opiate-based medicine. Vicodin, hydrocodone or morphine are some examples of the medication taken just to tolerate the pain.

 

This topic is very personal to me as I have seen firsthand how this disease can take a toll on a person’s life that is very close to me. My mother was first diagnosed with endometriosis on March 25, 2014. For two years I have had to see my mom suffer, cry and hide the pain from my family and me. It is very rare to see her cry because she is such a very strong and proud person. She hides the pain because she doesn’t want us to worry. We help her by being there for her emotionally and physically. By spreading awareness this helps in so many more ways than I can in just being there for her. I dedicate this article to her, the woman that gave me everything.

 

Myths:

-Getting pregnant and having a baby cures endo.
-You only have pain when you’re on your period.
-It can be prevented.
-Endo can be diagnosed through an ultrasound.
-Endo can be cured through having a hysterectomy.
-Endo can only stay in the pelvic area.
-Endo is contagious.

 

Facts:

 

-Getting pregnant and having a baby does not cure endo but can cause it to go into remission temporarily and can     cause infertility.
- You can get pain at any time.
 -Endo cannot be prevented. No one knows what causes the disease, but there are many genetic, physiologic and     immunologic correlations.
 -Endo can only be diagnosed through surgery.
 -Having a hysterectomy does not cure endo but may help with some symptoms associated with it, but up to 20           percent of women who have a hysterectomy have persistent pain after surgery.
 -Endo can travel anywhere from the pelvic area to the lungs, sciatic nerve and brain.

 



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