Shadae Boylan's stubborn mindset and hardworking attitude might seem like attributes, but they almost cost her her health.
The helicopter pilot has been working as a station hand in the beef cattle industry from the age of 16 on some of the most remote properties in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
"We are a culture of hard workers in these areas and we don't have time to be sick or injured. Now in most circumstances I still think that this is a great mentality ... however it was this mind set that led me to the position I am in now, which is being diagnosed with severe Stage 4 endometriosis in May 2018, discovered only after having a right ovarian cyst burst and completely incapacitate me at the time."
Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterine cavity, often sticking to the ovaries, bowel, and tissues lining the pelvis.
For the past three months, during the off-season from cattle mustering, Ms Boylan has been working for County Helicopters in Ballarat doing aerial agriculture spraying.
To help the March Endometriosis Awareness Month campaign she organised a walk around Lake Wendouree this weekend, and although only a few turned out because of the coronavirus pandemic she still pushed ahead wearing the signature yellow of the campaign.
"Having not known anything about this condition and having the mindsets of the 'suffer in silence' stigma and 'pain is normal', 'that's women's business, keep it to yourself' social conditioning, it turns out I have had this condition since my teens."
Ms Boylan said there were many misconceptions about endometriosis, including that it was just severe cramps and pain. "I still get cramps and abdominal pain but I really struggle with headaches, fatigue, inflammation in my joints and muscle cramps," she said.
She has also had to change her diet to avoid anything that causes an inflammatory response including bread, pasta, potato, anything high in fat, oil and caffeine.
Ms Boylan said working in a male dominated industry had made it difficult to seek help when she was younger, but that has changed.
"Everywhere I'm working now guys are getting really steep learning curve on women's issues - I don't hold back. The more frank you are the better you are going to be and they need to know."
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