Chandelis Duster

159909424_10103542663256682_1843809027824566900_nI started my menstrual cycle at 9 years old with severe cramps and heavy bleeding. I missed school and extra-curricular activities because of severe pain.

Doctors told me painful periods were “normal” and even suggested I see a therapist as the problem could just be “all in my head.” At age 18, a freshman in college, a grapefruit-sized cyst was found on my ovary through ultrasound and surgically removed through laparoscopy. During that surgery endometriosis was discovered. Three years later, another laparoscopy was done to remove the endometriosis found. I had a third laparoscopic surgery to remove more endometriosis on December 18, 2014 while in graduate school. In 2021, I had three more surgeries for the disease, adhesions and uterine fibroids. On September 21, 2022, my uterus and fallopian tubes were removed.

I have been on numerous treatments with little to no success including oral contraceptives and pain medication. I do not want anyone, especially young girls, to experience what I did, nor do I want them to feel alone in their pain. If I can pursue my dreams and fight this disease at the same time, anyone can.