A Co Down woman who was left in excruciating pain because of endometriosis is now helping other women suffering in silence after undergoing a hysterectomy at the age of 30.
Samantha Campbell was diagnosed with the condition when she was only 24 after suffering in pain for a number of years.
Endometriosis can affect women of any age and results when tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Samantha told Belfast Live: “I was diagnosed with endometriosis at 24 years old and have had two surgeries to treat the condition. I recently underwent the most major surgery any woman can go through, a hysterectomy at 30 years old. It had just become too much to bear.”
Samantha is currently recovering from her recent hysterectomy
Samantha is now recovering at home from her operation, which took place in the Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Belfast on June 22.
“A hysterectomy shouldn’t be the only option for women out there suffering with endometriosis,” she said.
“They shouldn’t get to the end of the road and see this as the last resort. It was for me because I couldn’t take much more and I was at the end of my tether.
“I don’t have children but at the end of the day I wasn’t even thinking about wanting children when I was in such agony and I’d do anything to stop it.
“It’s a very debilitating condition and I’m still living with my parents who have been caring for me over the years and they fully backed my decision to have the surgery.”
“I was very fortunate that I was able to have the operation done privately but I fully realise that’s not the case for many women,” Samantha added.
“The wonderful staff at Kingsbridge are working under difficult circumstances but still delivering amazing care which I’m very grateful to have experienced. But we shouldn’t have to go down the private route to end our suffering in the first place.”
Six weeks on from her surgery, Samantha is taking things one day at a time.
“I have good and bad days as this was my first major surgery so it has taken quite a bit of time to process. The aftermath has not been easy with three emergency trips to hospital, two of which involved an ambulance at my door in the early hours of morning, to help with massive pain management,” she said.
“I wasn’t aware just how much pain I would be in afterwards and I’m facing a three month recovery period so I have a long road ahead.”
Endometriosis is a long-term condition that can have a significant impact on your life, but there are treatments that can help.
The symptoms of endometriosis can vary. Some women are badly affected, while others might not have any noticeable symptoms.
The main symptoms of endometriosis are pelvic pain, period pain that stop you doing normal activities, pain during or after sex, feeling sick, constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in your pee during your period, and difficulty getting pregnant.
Throughout 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and events were cancelled, Samantha wasn’t sure how to raise enough awareness of endometriosis so she took a leap of faith.
She created an Instagram account to share her journey living with endometriosis from diagnosis and treatment through to her surgery.
“I was never very confident about going online or showing my face but after being encouraged by a friend I set up the account in March of last year,” Samantha explained.
“After posting a few quotes and pictures I didn’t think anything would happen with it. In the past year I have gained over 900 followers in total and campaigned with others to help raise awareness.
“I want to help young girls on the path to diagnosis or on their endometriosis journey and ease their fears over treatment and surgery. I also want to let the women of Northern Ireland know where to see real stories as I put up videos and posts relating to areas of endometriosis.”
To get the latest breaking news straight to your inbox, sign up to our free newsletter.