I Had A Full Hysterectomy At 31
March marks the Worldwide EndoMarch campaign to raise money and awareness of Endometriosis. Survivor Jayde, 31, shares her incredible story...
Jayde Balderston is the owner and founder of PR, social, events and activations agency, The Grey Consulting. She has been working with leading brands in fashion, beauty, lifestyle and sport in the Australian market for 13 years. She passionately believes in the power of open, honest and authentic stories to create change, personally and professionally. She lives in Sydney with her partner, Phil, and her cat, Clementine Custard.
Jayde is also my good friend and longtime Endometriosis sufferer. In honour of Worldwide EndoMarch campaign to raise money and awareness of Endometriosis (events are being held across the world on March 25 2017), Jayde graciously agreed to share her very personal story about her 20-year battle with Endometriosis.
Breaking the silence is key to raising awareness about this awful disease that affects 1 in 10 women, and which in some cases like Jayde's, robs them of their fertility.
Here is Jayde's story in her own words.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is present when the tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus occurs outside this layer and causes pain and/or infertility. The lining layer is called the endometrium and this is the layer of tissue that is shed each month with menstruation or where a pregnancy settles and grows.
I recommend you visit http://www.endometriosisaustralia.org to get all the correct info – there is a lot of misleading information out there.
The First Signs
I was officially diagnosed at 18. My history shows that I have actually been living with endometriosis from the age of around 11 or 12.
I was a child who was often in pain, complaining of stomachaches, pains, difficulty going to the bathroom … but the issue was no medical professionals believed me. My parents were wonderful. They took me to multiple GP’s and specialists - I recall a male doctor sticking a tube up my bottom when I was in High School – but there was a strong feeling I was lying, and attention seeking, a hypochondriac. And I was still in pain without a diagnosis.
Off To The Doctor's
At 18, my first term of Uni, I called mum to see if she could book me in for my first Pap Smear. I had an odd internal sensation, nothing you could actually feel, but it was ultimately my mind and body telling me something was wrong. The results were there for everyone to see and finally I had a diagnosis, a real reason for the years of pain I’d already endured.
Endometriosis In Life
Apart from surgery - I’ve had over 10 - there’s no known cure. The surgeries deal with the pain for a while, but then it has always come back.
I kept quiet about the disease and my condition for a long time. I was always so afraid that this would affect me professionally. That was a key driver in keeping it very close.
My career is my baby, and means so much to me – I thought I may lose it if people knew what was going on. Would I be reliable, would I be flakey and ‘sick’ all the time. When discussing this point with a Dr of mine a couple of years back, she pointed out that I’d done my time, proven my strength and have shown I can continue to work just as hard and passionately as I always have. And will continue to.
I have learnt that there’s strength in community - it’s all about information and support networks, especially for people who struggle to form their own.
The fact it’s been going on for so long, and I’m now maybe at the stage in my life I’m wanting to take some control, create some good out of what’s been happening to me.
So many women are living with the disease, many secretly, and I want to let as many people as possible know they’re not alone, to reach out and get as much help and knowledge as you can.
The Big H & Life After The Big H
I had a full hysterectomy last March as a final fight back against endo (not an ultimate cure for everyone – you must seek out professional help, and make sure your endo specialist/surgeon is an excision specialist!). I also had unrelated (as far as I know) cervical cancer, for which the treatment was full hysterectomy. I was 31. And had not had children.
Recovery was tough. Tougher than I’d ever experienced (and I was pretty experienced undergoing surgery).
I still feel like I’m recovering. There is a lot that comes with a hysterectomy. The knowledge you won’t carry children, the hormone replacement therapy, the weight gain, hot flashes, mood swings … I could go on.
But despite the heartache and tiring experience, I am so grateful to my amazing surgeons and support network – or my cheerleaders as I like to call them.
The Final Word
Listen to your body. Trust yourself. Your pain is real, it affects your life, and, with a good team around you, you can manage it. Every case is unique. Arm yourself with knowledge (there are amazing professionals out there), friends, and love. Be kind to yourself. Love you. And make sure those around you understand what you live with every day, it will make their lives easier too.
Show Your Support
Help raise awareness and increase research funds for endometriosis by purchasing one of these handmade knot bracelets by The Endo Co here.
The Endo Co are committed to raising disease awareness, promoting education, and increasing research funding. Read more about their mission at https://theendo.co