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march forthToday, March 4th, the United Church of Christ and other denominations ask us to take a stand and march forth in body, mind or soul in an effort to bring justice to our world.

I march for Endometriosis.

Now, some may think this isn’t much of a justice issue.  To many, it’s another health issue to which only half of the population is susceptible.

Isn’t it just another painful period?  Aren’t periods supposed to be painful?

No.

Wait, didn’t God say that this is a punishment for Eve eating the forbidden fruit?

No.

Endometriosis is an illness when the lining that is usually found in the inside the uterus migrates  outside of the womb.  It can be found on the outside surface of the uterus, the Fallopian tubes and the ovaries not to mention the bladder, bowels and a variety of other organs.  The tissue has been found on the brain and in the lungs.

There is so much mystery surrounding Endometriosis.  They’re not sure if it’s genetic or if tissue is regurgitated into the abdominal cavity.  There is nothing we can do to prevent the disease from starting.

So besides not knowing how it begins, there is no know cure.  Doctors will prescribe birth control pills to control the growth.  If the pain continues, a laparoscopy is performed.  This is the only way Endometriosis is truly confirmed in a woman.  While they are performing the minimally invasive surgery, they will remove much of the tissue growing outside of the uterus.  Often, this will alleviate the pain, but for many of us, the growth begins again, and the pain intensifies.  Doctors will also prescribe Lupron, a drug that will place a woman into menopause for a few months.  The hope is that the Endometriosis is greatly reduced when the periods return.

Hormones have many side affects and no one really wants to have surgery.  I can tell you that it’s difficult to choose between the two.  Yet knowing how hormones wreak havoc on my body, I tend to choose surgery when the pain is consistently intolerable.

I’ve had two laparoscopic surgeries: one in 2003 (when I was diagnosed) and one in 2013.  I feel fortunate that I went over nine years without another surgery.  I seriously doubt that nine years will go by before my next one.

It’s incredible to see this great fight over the coverage of birth control when people with Endometriosis find it as a temporary solution.  Unfortunately, birth control is a “sinful” substance to many, but for a multitude of others, it returns their lives.  It should be widely available for women to use for a number of reasons.

There is one other thing: not all doctors are willing to face Endometriosis.  I’ve had a couple of wonderful physicians who were willing to take my condition seriously.  But women are told that extremely painful periods are normal.  By gynecologists.  And then they are told pregnancy and hysterectomies will cure the disease.  Yet nothing is curative.

So it’s time to stand up, to march and to let women know that painful periods aren’t what we as women should be experiencing.  It’s time to be like the woman with the hemorrhage in Mark 5 and advocate for ourselves.  We’re not willing to have these pains decade after decade when it could have been diagnosed in our teens or early 20’s.  We’re not willing to stand by as this disease takes over our bodies and robs us of our lives.  We’re not willing to let this tissue grow like weeds so that we experience defeating infertility.  It’s time to use everything we can and let our health care providers know when our body isn’t right.

And it’s time for us to stand up to our legislators and let them know to allocate more money in funding for research.

As we march forth today – most of us virtually – let us support one another in our common pain.  Let us support those we love whose pain overcomes their lives.  And let us stand up to the powers that be who can make fiscal decisions, making this disease a thing of the past.

I plan on sending a to my senators and congressional leaders.  Others will be marching in Washington D.C. and other cities all over the world on March 13.  What will you do?

Find contact information for elected officials in the United States HERE.  For more information on the Million Women March for Endometriosis, check out the website: http://www.millionwomenmarch2014.org/.

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