The 1 in 10 we don't talk about

I have spent a lot of time debating whether or not to share my story. Each time I sit down to write, I feel overwhelmed with the instinct to close off and keep all feelings and emotions to myself. However, I have also become increasingly overwhelmed with the feeling of complacency. And that feeling was worse. With a loss of where to start my story, I decided to begin with the first time.

The first time I felt the pain. The first time I had to miss out on something - school, a night out, a major event, etc. The first time I felt so alone. The first time I knew something was really wrong. The first time a doctor told me it was all in my head. The first time I told someone the truth. The first time I got that look of pity afterwards. The first time that I just completely broke down. The first time that I was too sick to get out of bed. The first ER visit. The first time I spent a night in the hospital by myself. The first time I knew this was a battle that I was going to have to fight and it was going to take everything I had.

Or is it the first time a doctor said they don’t know how I manage to do all I do all that I have done in the condition I am in? I have chosen to not only write about the strength, but to take an initiative to act as a voice for all those who need that strength the most.

This battle has taken so much from me - physically, mentally and financially. This illness has made me feel without options, and the burden is often exhausting to bear. It is often difficult to accept and even more difficult to verbalize.

How will anyone ever really understand? How will anyone ever truly know what it feels like to experience excruciating pain daily, to have lost all you have had and to know you will never get it back?  How will anyone ever look at me in a way that they don’t just see this awful illness?

Truthfully, after years of suffering through the pain, misdiagnosis, fatigue and loss, will I ever even be strong enough to be me again? Will I ever have a day that goes by where this doesn’t affect me in some way? The fear that this is it for me and that my goals and dreams are a thing of the past, is far too close of a reality.

After years of doing all the doctors have asked - all the tests, trials, medicines and treatments, the answer still remains the same. There is nothing they can do.

The only thing that gets me out of bed each day is finding that one thing where - I feel stronger. I feel like I can overcome my battles. I feel like I have a piece of me back.

That outreach is AIR. AIR is an aerial fitness program that isn't just a workout, it gives me that push I need to keep going. It gives me that glimpse of the person I was and the person I want to be. It's not just about the work out but the encouragement and support from everyone from the trainers to the girl next to me in class. From day one, I have never felt judged but only praised for my efforts. This doesn't mean you aren't pushed outside your comfort zone but you are done in such a way that only makes you want to strive for more.

In November, I plan to depart for Nicaragua for what seems like the impossible to me. Seven days of AIR. Seven days of pushing myself to reach a level that I have dreamed about for a very long time. When I signed up for this trip it was meant to focus on me. To regain my strength both mentally and physically. What I realized along the way is I want to do more. I want to look beyond me and to help all those girls/women who feel that excruciating pain daily and are told that there is nothing they can do.  

This trip will not only be a huge step in furthering my health, but provide me an outlet to kickstart my personal campaign for spreading awareness.

Due to the limited amount of knowledge and training in Endometriosis, it has a tendency to be misdiagnosed and mistreated. With every gift given to support my journey, I will be donating to the Endometriosis Foundation of America. You will be helping support their mission of increasing disease recognition, providing advocacy, facilitating expert surgical training and funding landmark endometriosis research.

You will be helping girls with a story just like mine.
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Anna Pecoraro 
Charlotte, NC

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