Phuong's Endo Story
By Phuong Tran
My name is Phuong, I’m 29 from Melbourne, Australia, and I have Endometriosis.
Growing up, I never thought I had pelvic health issues. I had some painful periods, but it was nothing excruciating enough to have a negative impact on my school, work or social life. There was nothing serious enough to make me think ‘oh no, something’s wrong’. And besides, painful periods are normal, right?
In late January of 2016, I booked in for a routine Pap smear. Pap smear results are generally mailed out to patients within two weeks of a test. A week passed by and I received a phone call from my doctor asking me to come in with no information or explanation.
An appointment was scheduled with my GP the following week. I had ‘low-grade cell growth’. They explained this was common, that there was nothing to worry about, and the course of action is to do another smear the following year to monitor it, and make sure it doesn’t progress.
However, because I had also been having irregular periods recently, my doctor thought it would be a good idea to refer me to a gynaecological specialist, just in case.
I didn’t get to see my specialist until early March, who didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary in her screening but booked me in for an internal ultrasound anyway, again, just in case.
My ultrasound appointment was in early April. It was at this ultrasound the technician found a cyst on my right ovary. A senior gynaecologist came in to review my scan and explained that this cyst could just be fluid, it can be quite common, and that there was nothing to worry about.
My next appointment that same day was with my specialist, who had my ultrasound faxed over from the clinic. She was shocked they found anything at all, considering I had no symptoms indicating any pelvic issues. At the time, I was a personal trainer. I ate very healthy and exercised 5 days a week. I was a picture of health, so how was this possible?
I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was a sunny Monday afternoon. Looking at my results, she explained what a cyst meant, the different types of cysts that can be produced, and said to me “We can remove it. I only operate on Fridays, do you want to book in for this week or next week?”
I sat there in shock. I was still trying to process this information. Did she really just ask me if I wanted to have an operation in 4 days time?
Eventually, I found my words and explained that Friday was too soon, and I already had a holiday booked the week after, so we scheduled my operation for the week after that.
I got back from Hawaii on early Thursday evening, and on Friday morning at 9am, I was getting prepped for surgery to remove the cyst.
The procedure went smoothly, and the following week, results came back from my biopsy.
I was on the train heading into the city when I received a phone call from my gynaecologist explaining to me I had a condition called ‘Endometriosis’. I had to get her to repeat this word twice because it was so foreign to me. She asked me to book in for an appointment the week after to get my stitches removed and to explain my next steps moving forward.
I did what any sane girl would have done in my situation, as soon as we hung up the phone I consulted Dr Google. And while browsing the web, I barely found any information on this condition. How is a condition which affects 1 in 10 women so unknown?
When I went to my appointment, she didn’t really give me much information either except told me to go on the contraceptive pill and to skip my periods every few months.
I was fortunate enough to have had a very speedy recovery. I was back at work within a week, which I think my healthy lifestyle prior to surgery definitely had something to do with it.
Fast forward to today, I raise awareness for this silent disease, mainly through social media, and looking to expand from there in the future.
I recently moved to London a month ago. A friend of mine was kind enough to let me stay with her, and whenever she introduces me to her friends, she tries to explain to them what I do and the word ‘Endometriosis’, which her friends always follow with ‘What’s That?’ They are always shocked to find out what it is, and is baffled when I tell them how many women it affects.
I also travel a lot, which can sometimes be difficult because I have to make sure I have enough pills to last my trip, organise a small heating pad for cramps, and pack some loose fitting clothes in case I get that dreaded Endo bloat. But other than that, I’ve been really fortunate to live my life quite freely without much debilitation.
Thank you for reading, and all the best on your journey.
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