By Balveen Adjimal
I am very proud to have been asked to represent Endometriosis Australia as an Ambassador. I have grown up with this disease and watched my mother suffer for many years due to poor treatment options and a lack of information on managing her condition. So when I was diagnosed at 21, there was this tremendous sense of panic that my life would become a mirror of the pain and suffering she had endured.
Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to have had a different experience from that of my mother. Although daily, debilitating pain has certainly been a feature in my life over the last 20 years, I have also been very lucky to have had the opportunity to see and work with a range of highly qualified and intuitive medical professionals along the way. Gynaecologists, obstetricians, physiotherapists, pain management experts and pain psychologists, each who have brought to me a better understanding of how to live with a chronic pain condition. This holistic and balanced approach has been invaluable to me in coping and being able to enjoy life and the blessing of three lovely children. This whole body and mind approach simply didn’t exist for my mother and women still struggle to access it today.
This certainly wasn’t always my experience. There have also been many failed surgeries, mismatched medications and insensitive and poor medical advice. I see the lack of good information and freedom to share the most intimate and difficult aspects of this disease as the key cause of poor treatment and reduced quality of life. So many women are too afraid to talk about the really messy and difficult aspects of living with endometriosis. We hide it from our partners, our friends and even sometimes our Doctors in an effort to retain our sense of ourselves, our dignity and to keep carrying on and coping in the face of enormous pain and loneliness.
This is where I hope to play a role as an Ambassador of Endometriosis Australia. There is so much to be learnt from the open and safe sharing of information, common experiences and basic but often life-changing coping strategies. Women are good at helping other women – I see this all the time in my working life. Being an Ambassador for this charity is really an extension of my professional life which is focused around helping women achieve their potential in the business world, to take opportunities and to thrive. I want to be able to help eradicate the fear and stigma which still exists around gynaecological diseases for many women and enable them to talk frankly and without embarrassment about the effect of endometriosis on their lives and relationships. I would really like to bring this awareness to men too – husbands, fathers, school teachers and boyfriends who need to be better informed and to understand what living with endometriosis can do to a woman.
Central to the journey I have taken with endometriosis has been the support of my loving and very patient husband, Dan. He has not only put up with but I think truly understood and felt for the effects that pain has had on my life and the quality of our family life. He forgives the moods and the anger and has been there to comfort the pain, exhaustion and the fragility. I hope that by reaching out to other women and their partners and families battling with this condition, that I can ensure that another woman can benefit from the type of support that I have gained so much from.