I was saddened and shocked to see this week that Sophie Monk had been diagnosed with Endometriosis at the age of 38, today I called her and checked in to see how she’s going after her first surgery and in true Sophie fashion she was thinking about everyone else instead of herself and asked if there was anything she could do to help other women? I asked if she wanted to share her journey of Endometriosis to help normalize it, she was quick to say ‘Of course, I’m not embarrassed that I have a condition that so many women are affected by.’
After an hour on the phone I’m truly blown away, over 26 years of being undiagnosed, over 20 ambulance rides to the emergency room at the hospital. Feeling like a hypochondriac and hiding what was happening to her in fear of letting people down. What’s happened to Sophie, sadly happens to so many women and the more we talk about Endometriosis the closer we get to finding a cure. It’s time for people to understand how painful this condition is and how common it actually is.
Sophie first noticed that something wasn’t quite right from her very first cycle at the age of 12, the excruciating back and leg pain was instant and that all too familiar feeling of being stabbed in the reproductive area... the pain so unbearable that she also felt nauseous. Growing up we thought bad period pain was normal, there was no education surrounding Endometriosis. Getting diagnosed 20 years ago sadly wasn’t even a reality.
In her 20’s the symptoms worsened, and the nausea had turned to aggressive vomiting... sometimes for 7 hours consistently. At 28 Sophie called her first of over 20 ambulances, the pain was so excruciating she couldn’t walk and at one point had to crawl to the ambulance.
This is also sadly something that is very common for sufferers, I average 4 hospital trips a year and the only thing that can help is strong pain relief and when you have to do it constantly you do feel like you’re being judged ‘She’s back again, what’s really going on?’ each time she went to hospital they would run tests and not once did they ever suggest she could have Endometriosis.
This was happening to her every cycle, every 4 weeks she would prepare for the worst.
If you think back to Sophie at 28, she was living overseas dominating in her career... how was she possibly maintaining her career in such pain? At one stage she checked out of hospital and went straight to set. She didn’t know what was wrong and she hid it from everyone around her, she didn’t want to let anyone down or not show up due to her mystery illness and she certainly didn’t want to look like a hypochondriac. Do you know how vulnerable you feel going to the hospital alone? To not understand why you are feeling such pain? We’ve all been there Sophie, this is what sufferers go through.
At one point a GP suggested she should see a [gastro] specialist because of the vomiting, they thought it was a stomach issue and again Endometriosis was never suggested. The specialist suggested that she should have her Gall bladder removed...
But Soph wanted to try and keep all of her organs and didn’t agree to the surgery.
2 weeks ago, she went to Monash IVF on the Gold Coast to look into getting her eggs frozen, she saw a Doctor and IVF Specialist who thankfully understood Endometriosis and it's signs and symptoms. Within 5 minutes of asking questions about her bad period and back pain they suspected that she had Endometriosis. After 26 years of being undiagnosed, the right doctor was convinced after 5mins that she had Endometriosis. Again, sadly this is the reality for so many women. Too many doctors get it wrong. A week later she was booked in for her first keyhole surgery. As she was going under, she prayed that she had Endometriosis, to finally have an answer for her 26 years of pain and when she was diagnosed, she was grateful to finally have an answer. When I met Sophie 4 years ago on Celebrity Apprentice, I remember saying to her that she had a few symptoms of Endometriosis, but some of them didn’t match up. Even long-term friend Jackie O had noticed similar symptoms. Sophie trusted the medical system, no one was telling her it could be Endometriosis.
The relief of finally being diagnosed is unexplainable, to know that it’s not in your head and to understand what is happening to your body. The surgery was successful, and Sophie was diagnosed Stage 1, the Stage levels aren’t a pain indicator someone with Stage 1 can have more pain that someone with Stage 4. Thankfully Sophie’s eggs and reproductive system are healthy, and she will experience her first cycle in 26 years pain free.
As we ended the call, I explained just how powerful it was for women that she shared her story and she said “If I can just help one woman not go through what I had to for the past 26 years, it’s worth it” we then joked about her bed pan and how hot her new boyfriend is. Sophie you are one of a kind, so incredibly kind, funny and a heart of gold.
Thank you for helping us break down the stigma surrounding Endometriosis.
- Mel Greig