Where has 2019 got to? It’s hard to believe we’re already into June, nearly halfway through the year. And yet, as the months race by, here I am still getting caught up on sharing updates about the work I did in April and May!
The first of these articles tells the story of Dafina, a woman whose horrifying story and intriguing, inspiring campaign I first discovered on Instagram several months ago. It took me a while to find the right home for this piece, but I’m so pleased The i commissioned it.
Next up are two pieces I wrote for Refinery29 – one on three women’s experiences of being diagnosed with arthritis in their 20s, sponsored by biopharma company UCB; the other explaining a little known gynaecological condition called adenomyosis.
My womb cancer was mistaken for gluten intolerance – I want to improve the discussion about women’s health – for The i:
Dafina Malovska was 35 when she started experiencing severe and persistent bloating four years ago, which she says her GP put down to gluten intolerance. When cutting out wheat made no difference, and a gastroenterologist’s tests found nothing wrong with her stomach, Dafina was simply advised to “eat Activia yoghurts” to beat the bloat.
“Every time I went back to see my GP, I could tell from her reaction that she thought I was a hypochondriac. She never actually touched my abdomen or examined me, not even once,” Dafina says. It wasn’t until she started bleeding between periods, four months later, that her GP referred her to a gynaecologist.
While still waiting for her NHS appointment to come through, Dafina – who has lived and worked in London for 14 years – flew to her native Macedonia for her sister’s birthday and consulted a gynaecologist privately there. “They did a thorough check-up, including a transvaginal ultrasound and pelvic examination, and discovered a 14 cm, 500 gm tumour in my uterus,” Dafina explains.
I Was Diagnosed With Arthritis In My 20s: Here’s What It’s Like – for Refinery29:
When you hear the word ‘arthritis’, you probably think of your nan struggling with her stiff hands or swollen hip joints. It’s certainly not a disease most of us associate with women in their 20s and 30s – but for younger women who do live with various forms of arthritis, it can have a profound effect on their careers, social lives and relationships, as well as their decisions about when and how to start a family.
Arthritis describes a category of conditions that cause joint pain and inflammation. The two main forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) – typically associated with ‘wear and tear’, which mostly affects joints in the hands, knees, hips and spine; and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – a form of inflammatory arthritis where the body’s immune system targets certain joints, causing swelling and pain.
This Painful Condition Affects One In 10 Women & No One Knows About It
Gemma Taylor had never heard of adenomyosis before she was diagnosed just last week, after a year of painful unexplained symptoms that her GP had put down to IBS. And she’s not the only one. Adenomyosis is the even less well-known sister condition of endometriosis – but while endometriosis is slowly beginning to benefit from recent public awareness campaigns, adenomyosis is still virtually unheard of by patients and doctors alike.
“My symptoms started in April last year, with abdominal pains and sickness. I thought it was a bug, but it just carried on. I was bloated all the time, feeling sick, having awful cramps where all I could do was lie down and wait for it to pass, and a combination of diarrhoea and constipation,” Gemma, a 37-year-old marketing manager from Cornwall, explains.
IF YOU NEED SUPPORT
Please note that I am NOT a psychologist or healthcare professional. Check out my resources page for details of organisations who might be able to help.
However, if you would like to get in touch about your own experiences, or a story that you’re keen to tell, please feel free to drop me an email.