Three years ago, after Diana Falzone’s second endometriosis surgery, she and her doctor had a profound conversation. It was a moment so powerful, they were both brought to tears.
“He asked me to help him carry the torch to bring awareness to the disease,” said Falzone, a Fox News reporter at the time. “I had the platform and I had the education, so I made a vow that day to him and the one in 10 women who suffer with it that I would fight for them.”
Falzone, now a journalist for several publications, including Vanity Fair and The Daily Beast, has been named EndoFound’s director of media relations and advocacy. She will relinquish her role as an advisory board member, which she has been part of since the board’s founding.
“Diana will be primarily responsible for building broad public awareness of, brand identification with, and support for EndoFound while establishing new media channels and contributing to our advocacy efforts,” said Executive Director Margaret Cianci. “Diana’s strong background as a journalist, coupled with her personal experiences with endo, makes her ideal for this position. We are delighted and honored to welcome Diana to the staff.”
Falzone, a native and resident of New Jersey, was 11 years old when she first experienced heavy and painful periods. They continued for more than two decades without a diagnosis.
“Everyone chalked it up to being part of a woman’s cycle, and I never questioned them because I assumed it was just normal – my normal,” Falzone said. “It was uncomfortable, but I accepted it and lived my life.”
One day in February 2016, at the age of 33, Falzone’s discomfort suddenly turned into unbearable pain.
“My body was under siege. It felt like a hot piece of coal was searing down my side,” she said. “I was bleeding heavily, even though I wasn’t having my cycle. I also had a low-grade fever, and I was shivering from the pain. It was the first time I’d sought emergency medical attention.”
A doctor at the hospital surmised that she had the flu. Diana saw a gynecologist the next day who agreed.
“I thought, ‘The flu? When did the flu bring these kinds of symptoms?’ I knew that wasn’t what I had.”
One of Falzone’s friends recommended her to a specialist, who immediately suspected that Falzone had endometriosis; it was the first time Falzone had ever heard the word. The specialist also determined through a test that Falzone was infertile, a condition likely caused by the disease.
“That’s what stopped me in my tracks,” Falzone said. “I was on a career path, and starting a family was the furthest thing from my mind. But to be robbed of the chance to have a baby if I wanted one made me feel like I wasn’t in control of my life.”
Falzone would undergo surgery to remove endo from several organs in March 2016, and again in June 2017. In between then, in January 2017, she wrote an op-ed for FoxNews.com about her endometriosis titled, “Women Should Never Suffer in Silence.” It was the first time she’d spoken publicly about it.
“The reaction I got from the public was nothing but positive. Women wrote me the most touching messages about their experiences with endo,” she said. “For me, it was very therapeutic. It made me feel that for as much as the disease had affected my life, I was able to turn a negative into a positive. It made me less sad and gave me more of a purpose.”
After that second surgery, with the desire to have a child and with her doctor’s recommendation, Falzone underwent in vitro fertilization treatments. By the end of the year, she became pregnant and had a son, Alexander, in August 2018.
“It was a dream fulfilled,” Falzone said. “But I also know how fortunate I was to have the financial means to do IVF. It’s a dream all women should be able to fulfill.”
With that mindset, just two months after giving birth, Falzone was on Capitol Hill sharing her story with Congress to emphasize the need for funding for endometriosis education and research.
“I saw some female staffers well up with tears, and a couple of them came to me afterward to say that they thought they might have endo,” Falzone said.
She also worked with EndoFound to encourage the New York State legislature to pass a bill that would require materials be made available to school districts and medical practitioners statewide by the commissioners of health and public education. The bill passed, and it became law in 2019, the first of its kind in the U.S.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” she said. “We need to hit every state.”
As EndoFound’s director of media relations and advocacy, Falzone is in the perfect position to do just that.
“I feel quite honored to be part of this team,” she said. “We want more research, and we want more tools to deal with the disease, but to do that, we need more awareness. I hope to shine a light on the disease and the stories that haven’t been told.”