BROOKE Pearce was living with chronic pain that went unexplained for six years until she had surgery for what was suspected to be appendicitis.
The Forrestfield resident had been in pain since she was 11 years old, and it wasn’t until she was 17 that a misdiagnosis shed light on what Ms Pearce actually had.
When Ms Pearce went under the knife for the suspected appendicitis, the surgeon realised the teenager had burst cysts throughout her abdomen and advanced endometriosis.
Ms Pearce, whose condition had been put down by physicians as ‘painful periods’, had five surgeries within two years, and is meant to have one every six to 10 months to deal with continued growth.
“Throughout my journey, I have been refused pain medication, been told it’s all in my head, been kicked out of hospitals and had to explain my condition to more doctors and nurses than I care to count,” she said.
“I’ve been on hormone replacement therapy and more schedule 8 pain killers than many cancer patients.
“Each time something happens where I am expecting compassion and expertise and am met with confusion or disbelief, my self-worth and confidence is undermined and I wonder if I really matter.”
Ms Pearce said as there was no known cure, treatment often changed and the side effects of the trialled medications and therapies would sometimes impact her more than the disease itself.
In support of the one in 10 Australian women affected by endometrioses, like Ms Pearce, the Federal Government this year released the National Action Plan for Endometriosis to improve their quality of life.
Federal Member for Pearce Christian Porter said the plan outlined a new approach to improving awareness and understanding of endometriosis, speeding up diagnosis, and developing better diagnostic and treatment options.
“Endometriosis is a chronic menstrual health disorder that affects around 700,000 Australian women and girls,” he said.
“It often causes debilitating pain and organ damage, and can lead to mental health complications, social and economic stress and infertility.
“Many have suffered in silence for far too long, enduring diagnostic delays of between seven and twelve years on average.”
Ms Pearce said she was hopeful the plan would help find a cure and a cause would be found, so the “disabling condition can be prevented”.
For the National Action Plan for Endometriosis, visit health.gov.au.