My name is Martyna. I am 37, and for over 23 years, I have been suffering from highly debilitating periods. In 2020, amid the pandemic, after many misdiagnoses, hearing “this is just how you are”, and a lot of my research and rebellion, I finally received a diagnosis – deep infiltrating endometriosis, stage IV. Even though I live in the UK, I was diagnosed privately by a leading specialist in this field in Poland, Dr Joanna Jacko. After many consultations with UK-based physicians, I fought my way into a diagnostic laparoscopy with excision on the NHS. The long-awaited operation confirmed the diagnosis from Poland and was meant to remove all the lesions. However, seven months post-op, I began having sharp stabbing pains up my vagina, ovaries and rectum. At ten months post-op, I experienced a flare-up as I have never before – it left me bleeding non-stop for two weeks, in 10/10 pain, with severe headaches and vertigo. I was unable to work.
Turns out that my endo is back and is wreaking havoc. An endometriosis lump inside my bowel (that was there 2,5 years ago) has not been removed and is growing happily. It is now 2cm in diameter. The immediate threat is bowel obstruction and a stoma. I also have new growth on my uterosacral ligaments, and my left ovary is fused with my pelvic wall. I was also diagnosed with adenomyosis, which explains the heavy bleeds. I need another (and precise) surgery to prevent things from escalating and my quality of life from being affected even more.
A waitlist on the NHS is about two years, and I don’t have that time. That leaves me with no choice but to go private. I have a fantastic specialist back in Poland, Dr Maciej Pliszkiewicz, from the so-called Warsaw Team (and a colleague of Dr Jacko), a passionate endometriosis gyne surgeon, who can operate on me; the surgery costs about £8,000, which is beyond what I am capable of spending.
I love life and am very social, open, positive, and energetic. I run a photography business that empowers women through authentic and soulful brand photography. I also work as a virtual assistant for other small businesses, supporting their growth. In addition, I have been a beloved nanny to many babies and toddlers over the past five years. Due to the job's physical demands, I have decided to leave it behind this month. I love dogs, dancing (read: twerking), reading, collaging and making others realise that a painful period is your body's way of telling you something's up.
Endometriosis is all-encompassing, and so are its effects on one's life. It's not a reproductive health disease but a whole-body one. It's a systemic, chronic and complex illness with no cure. How does it work? The lesions, which are similar in makeup to the womb's lining (endometrium), can be found everywhere in the body except the spleen. But unlike endometrium, they have nowhere to go, so they effectively cause internal bleeding and chronic inflammation, growing into (hence the name - infiltrating) and fusing organs and, for many - causing extreme pain.
The unpredictability of my illness has forced me to postpone my dream yoga teacher’s course in 2023. I've cancelled many concerts, outings, and get-togethers while on my period. I have probably spent about two years in bed because of it if we've added all the months. As a self-employed single person, I have no means of supporting myself when a flare-up strikes. I am strong and self-sufficient by nature, but as much as I am not letting this illness defeat me, chronic pain and fatigue can make staying upbeat much harder.
I hope that with your support, I can quickly get rid of the lump and lesions and return to better form to realise my next big dream – supporting people with endometriosis and making others realise how crucial menstrual health knowledge is.
The money raised will cover the cost of the operation, as well as my time in recovery and not working. I have split the rough estimate of how much the operation costs, hospital stay and not working may be between two fundraisers – this one and a Polish one that you can find here. There's also a fee for withdrawing via GoFundMe. Should my overall target be reached, any money not used will be donated to Endometriosis UK and Polish Endometriosis Foundation.
No sum is too small, and sharing and spreading the word about this fundraiser will do wonders and be much appreciated if you cannot donate. There's power in community, and if there's ever been a time a fiercely independent person like myself needed it, this is it. Sending you so much love. Check in on your menstruating friends; you never know who you may help by speaking about endometriosis <3
- Isabella Holder
- Catherine Serusclat