Fighting through Pain to Live on Purpose

By: Angeline Lawrence
We fight for everything from equal pay to health care. Fighting goes along with the territory when you are a woman. Over 176 women are fighting a silent war that is upending their lives. It crosses ethnicity/race, age and socio-economic levels.
Endometriosis is hard to detect and often misdiagnosed.  The physical pain and emotional strain are ever present in the lives of women who suffer from it.
It hits women in the prime of their reproductive lives. The disease impacts women and girls from age 12 to age 60. The symptoms mimic other conditions. Getting the correct diagnosis is vital to early detection. Endometriosis occurs when tissue like the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) is outside the uterus and found on other parts of the body.
Michelle Johnson is a licensed massage therapist, author and endometriosis advocate. She fights for others who have the same disease that robbed her of the left side of her uterus. She states, "I had heavy menstrual cycles since I was a teenager. I accepted the pain and heavy flows as normal. But, the pain intensified and I started to bleed through my clothes. When the time between my periods decreased I knew something was wrong."
According to the Endometriosis Foundation, “Endometriosis is found in the pelvic cavity. It can attach to any of the female reproductive organs (uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries), the uterosacral ligaments, the peritoneum, or any of the spaces between the bladder, uterus/vagina, and rectum.” In the U.S. on average, it takes 10 years from symptom onset to receive an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis.
Some of the top symptoms include:
  1. Severe bleeding during your period (like hemorrhaging)
  2. Lower back and abdominal pain
  3. Vomiting, nausea, and headaches
  4. Prevents you from getting out of bed or doing daily activities
Michelle was sick for 2 ½ weeks with flu-like symptoms. Once she finally went to the hospital they diagnosed her with appendicitis. Michelle required emergency surgery. Once she was in the operating room they realized it was not a ruptured appendix.
She was in the hospital for 4 days before her diagnosis. After many tests, MRI and finally an ultrasound she received the answer she did not expect.
Ms. Johnson had stage 4 endometriosis that destroyed half of her reproductive system. She states, “I did not know what endometriosis was. I felt lost and not sure what my next steps should be.”
Michelle refused to remain silent and pushed through her pain to help others. She established Fighting Fiercely, an annual event during Endometriosis awareness month in March. It provides resources and solutions to women enduring the disease. She states, “Fighting Fiercely was born out of a need to educate. There was a lot I did not know after my diagnosis. It helps shine a light on what women go through.”
Medical experts, specialists, mental health, nutrition and wellness professionals attend to address every aspect of the disease.  Women with “endo” endure mental, emotional, and physical trauma. Michelle states, “I had to support a woman whose spouse left her because of the disease. I stayed with her to help her through the emotional and mental breakdown she experienced because of the breakup of her family.”
Michelle also published a resource guide, Fighting Fiercely: Unveiling the Unknown about Endometriosis in June of 2015. She states, “I give women a roadmap for what the next steps should be after diagnosis. I share in-depth research on treatment options and also make recommendations for specialists.”

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