Ballarat women praise national plans to lifting the veil on this hidden pain

SPOTLIGHT: Tansyn Dennett (right) with Nicholson Construction project administration manager Bec Smail and company director Dean Stevens wear yelllow for endometriosis awareness in March. Picture: Kate Healy
SPOTLIGHT: Tansyn Dennett (right) with Nicholson Construction project administration manager Bec Smail and company director Dean Stevens wear yelllow for endometriosis awareness in March. Picture: Kate Healy

ENDOMETRIOSIS battlers in Ballarat are welcoming a long-awaited federal government move to lift the lid on the silent epidemic.

Education for doctors, teachers and employers about the painful condition have been brought to the fore in a draft National Action Plan for Endometriosis released this week.

Nicholson Construction project administrator Tansyn Dennett said public response to sharing her private story in The Courier earlier this year had been overwhelmingly positive – it had got people talking. 

Ms Dennett was grateful to have an understanding employer, but estimated the debilitating condition cost her a dozen jobs beforehand.

“There has got to be jobs for people who have a silent condition, like mental health or endometriosis, one no-one can see but a place where there is still that understanding,” Ms Dennett said. 

“The report is a huge step forward with one in 10, or possibly as many as 1 in eight, who have the silent condition.”

Ms Dennett applauded the draft plan recommendation for greater awareness of endometriosis and similar conditions in sexual education classes at school. She said too often girls accepted the extreme pain as normal.

One in 10 women have the painful disease and although there is no cure, there are treatment options.

One in 10 women have the painful disease and although there is no cure, there are treatment options.

The draft report comprises three priority areas: awareness and education, clinical management, and care and research. The cause of the disease remains unclear and there is no known cure.

Described by experts as a “silent epidemic”, endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to those that line a woman’s uterus grow in other parts of the body, causing debilitating pain.

The report acknowledges endometriosis has been historically under-recognised and under-diagnosed among doctors as well as the public. The report also recognises endometriosis costs billions in healthcare and absenteeism.

Ms Dennett could only find American articles on the condition when she was first diagnosed.

Similarly, Ballarat’s Jordan Loughnane could only find support groups in Melbourne – not helpful when seeking advice for support services or specialists.

Ms Loughnane created a Ballarat centric support group on Facebook, Ballarat Endo Sisters, which drew another 40 members after Ms Dennett shared her story.

“Ballarat is a big place, but it’s also not a big place. We can get together and meet for a chat or share advice,” Ms Loughnane said. 

“Most girls get on there at least once a day to ask a question or help...before I had it, I knew nothing about endometriosis. This plan will be so good for so many people.”

 – with The Age

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