'Getting a diagnosis was a relief’ - woman shares endometriosis journey
- Credit: Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital
A woman from Cambridgeshire has shared her journey of being diagnosed and treated with endometriosis in hopes of helping others who are suffering or believe they have symptoms of the condition.
Endometriosis is a long-term condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
It can have a significant impact on your life, but there are treatments that can help.
Sarah Mercer, from Cambridge, underwent surgery at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital last November to remove endometriosis from her bowel and uterus.
She also underwent a hysterectomy to remove pre-cancerous cells from her uterus.
“If my endometriosis had been diagnosed and treated earlier, my life would have been very different,” said Sarah.
“I wish as a young girl someone had said to me “very painful periods are not normal so let's look into it’."
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Over the years, Sarah had been told many times that the pain she was dealing with was part of life as a woman, but she now knows that no pain like she suffered is normal and that’s why she’s keen for other women to learn from her story.
“I had very heavy, debilitating and painful periods from a young age which I lived with throughout my life,” she said.
“Fortunately, I gave birth to a ‘miracle’ son but despite several rounds of IVF, my endometriosis was not diagnosed and I was unable to conceive again.”
Eventually, the pain became unbearable for Sarah and she suffered with IBS. More worryingly, she started to find blood in her stools.
Sarah consulted a GP who specialised in women’s health who immediately believed Sarah had endometriosis of the bowel.
That’s when investigations began.
“Blood tests were carried out and it was revealed that I had inflammation and an indicator of ovarian cancer,” said Sarah.
“I was referred for an urgent ultrasound at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital where the radiologist stated I had endometriosis and my bowel and uterus had fused together.”
She added: “Mr Mabrouk (consultant gynaecologist and endometriosis surgeon) listened to what I had to say; it was such a relief to be listened to and validated.”
Sarah had all of the treatment options explained to her and she chose to take medication to control her symptoms.
For a while, she says it was “wonderful” and that the pain was “manageable” but then her symptoms returned and seriously impacted her quality of life and time she was able to spend with her family.
Sarah had a couple of MRI scans which showed her endometriosis had spread to both sides of her uterus, was deep in her bowel and she also had adenomyosis inside her uterus (a condition where the inner lining breaks through the muscle wall).
“Mr Mabrouk made it clear he would never pressure anyone into surgery which he didn’t but together, we decided it was going to be the best route because damage to my uterus could affect my kidneys,” said Sarah.
“On November 6 2021 I had a hysterectomy and my uterus was removed. I kept my ovaries so I didn’t have to go through menopause.
“I had three surgeons overall for one key-hole operation – Mr Mabrouk and Mr Morton (colorectal surgeon) who worked together to remove the endometriosis from my bowel and Mr Thiruchelvam (consultant urologist) who removed the endometriosis from my uterus.
“They’re lovely consultants who listen, are empathetic and did a fantastic job."
Since the surgery, Sarah is now symptom free and says she’s got her life back.
She said: “You don’t realise how much pain you have been managing until you have none.
“I felt different immediately after my operation. It was such a relief and I started to get energy back.”
She added: “Four months post-surgery I feel like a new person which has had a huge and positive impact on my home life.
“I’m now able to be there for my child and my husband, which makes such a massive difference.”
Sarah says she cannot stop thanking Mr Mabrouk, Mr Morton, Mr Thiruchelvam and the specialist nurse Kate who checked on her all the time whilst she was recovering in hospital.
“They are so invested in their patients and they really do care,” she said.