Chandelis Duster

13495107_10101256179578302_9114839654591677529_n-e1470273811283I started my menstrual cycle at 9 years old and have had severe cramps along with heavy bleeding ever since. I would miss school including extra-curricular activities due to 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 as 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 in 2010, another laparoscopy was done to remove the endometriosis found.  I have been on numerous treatments with little to no success including oral contraceptives, shots, and very strong pain medication. I had a third laparoscopic surgery to remove endometriosis on December 18, 2014 while in graduate school. The doctor found endometriosis on both sides of my pelvic walls and also close to my ovaries. There has been times where I was in so much pain and the pain medication doctors prescribed didn’t work, they only made me sick to my stomach.

Although I deal with endometriosis on a daily basis, I do not let it discourage me like I did once before. In an effort to raise statewide awareness, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed 3 proclamations declaring March as Endometriosis Awareness Month in Virginia, newly elected Governor Ralpha Northam has declared March 2018 Endometriosis Awareness Month. Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones also signed a proclamation declaring March as Endometriosis Awareness Month. I made a promise to myself to live my life fulfilling my dreams and fighting this disease. I do not want young girls to experience what I did and I do not want them to feel alone in their pain. If I can pursue my dreams and fight this disease at the same time, anyone can.