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Molly Qerim Rose - Blossom Ball 2019

Molly Qerim Rose - Blossom Ball 2019

Blossom Ball 2019
WEDNESDAY, MAY 8TH - Cipriani Wall Street

Molly Qerim Rose

Good evening everyone. As many of you know, this can be pretty emotional. So I've got my napkins and my tissue's already, so please bear with me, and also my notes. Let's get all set up here. All right. First of all, let me say this, we're in the city that never sleeps, and I know everybody has a to-do list for the ages, and there's a million other things you could be doing, yet you chose to be here. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I'm Molly, and here's my endo story, our endo story. When I was around 27, I was living in LA, and I was working for NFL network, and I picked up a freelance gig at CBS in New York, and I was absolutely thrilled, because my entire family lives on the east coast, a free trip, and I was going to get to see them.

So I touched down on a red eye. I tried to get a little sleep before my mom and sister would arrive, but I could not muster the energy to get out of bed. I was in horrific, debilitating pain. For the men in the room, have you ever had food poisoning? Food poisoning. It's awful. You're crawling on the bathroom floor. You want to hug the toilet. It's that type of pain where you don't think you're going to make it through the night. My sister and mom arrived and I explained to them, I think that I'm ovulating, so my mom makes it very clear that what's happening is not normal and I need to call the doctor. I called the doctor and they said, why don't you go to the emergency room? Now most of you, I'm assuming, or a lot of you are New Yorkers.

This was right after Hurricane Sandy hit. So many of the hospitals were understaffed and damaged. That was going to be a disaster, and I was going to be in a waiting room for hours. Now it was time for plan B. So I call CBS Sports, who had just flown me across country to host a live event, and I tell them, I'm in New York, I took the flight, I'm in your hotel. But I'm not coming into work tonight. That call was a hot mess. For any of you that have bosses, I think you can relate. I get on the train with my mom and my sister. I go back to New Haven, Connecticut. That's where I'm from. Go to my ob/gyn, get an ultrasound, she sends me right away to Yale New Haven hospital to get another special ultrasound.

I quickly learned that I have something that I've never heard of, nor can I pronounce. Apparently I've had for many years, and I'm stage four. So everybody in the medical field can laugh at me right now with this. Excuse my naivete, but I come from the sports world, so I'm like, four out of 10 that's not a bad score. Then I also learned that stage four means the most severe. So I hop back on a plane to LA, I'm told to find a reproductive endocrinologist. Also don't know what that is. Next thing I know I'm having surgery. Apparently this wasn't just effecting my reproductive health. It had spread everywhere, my bladder, my rectum, and beyond.

Between 2012 and now, I've had multiple surgeries. I've tried hormone injection therapy to put my body in menopause. I've had multiple egg retrievals. I have tried traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Reiki. I'm now seeing an ayurvedic doctor, castor oil packs, naturopathic doctors, herbs. I have tried every diet imaginable. I currently have four cysts. Let me say this, I'm very blessed to have my job and to be on live television five days a week. But I have become the master of faking it. Because I work in a male dominated industry, I didn't want to show any sign of weakness, and I certainly wasn't going to open up a dialogue about my reproductive health. So what did I do? I drank more coffee, and I worked harder to my own detriment.

As for the symptoms, I've had many sleepless nights from severe pain, including this past Sunday, flu like symptoms, nausea, digestive issues, and many weeks where the only energy that I could muster was to go to work. Then my evenings and my weekends spent in bed. Struggling with my weight and fluctuations, and saying don't you worry. Every network executive makes sure to point that out. So it can also take quite a toll on your psyche. Maybe I'll never have kids. Maybe I'm not worthy. Maybe I'm being punished. These awful thoughts come in your head.

All right. There it goes. All right, let's pull it together, Molly. It's also dramatically affected my social life. I even recently had a cyst burst while I was on television. Let me tell you, it's a lot of pacing and deep breaths during a commercial break. But what I find most challenging isn't the pain. It's how it slows me down. I'll start to feel really good and being a nice routine, and you're getting after the to-do list, and you're going out on the weekends, and then it's like, pow, it's back again. That can be really challenging on your spirit. So, the woe is me part of this talk is officially over and done with, done with the negative. My plan was never to speak out about endo. Then in another late night Google search for cures, I came across that Padma, someone that I really respected had started an organization. Thank you Padma.

I figured, all right, this is legit. So I reached out and I said I'd like to attend next year's Blossom Ball, and everyone was so lovely and asked how I would like to participate in any capacity. I said, I just like to be a wallflower. Then the magic happened and it was very bittersweet. For me, I think, the bitter was hearing the horror stories. These young girls who are receiving no medical care or hack surgeries, are told to have a hysterectomy in their teens. For me, no teenager should be deciding about their fertility. They should be picking out their prom dress.

I couldn't sleep that evening, and those stories left my stomach in knots. It also exposed my naivete about this condition. So the sweet part of being here in this organization was the sisterhood that I witnessed, the connectedness that I wasn't alone, the education I received, and I felt this wonderful comradery. Also, now I had a place to turn for information that I could trust, because when you have an condition that's not very well known, you often don't know where to turn for the right answer. With that being said, I also want to give a huge thank you to Dr. Sandy Gelbard, who besides sitting on this board and putting this event together, has two young children, a major medical practice in New York City, and she has been with me every step of the way, introducing me to my current reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Pak Chung, here in New York at Cornell Medical, who's also an angel. So thank you, Sandy.

As I mentioned, last year really emboldened me to speak out, because now it was no longer about repercussions I could face at work. It was about helping others. So the next thing I knew, Good Morning America was at my house, and as a very private and introverted person, I was really scared. But again, it was about the sisterhood that I was a part of. After that went out, the most beautiful thing happened. It was more love and connection, and I was inundated with messages. Not just from women, also from the men supporting women, and suddenly it felt like this pain that I'd endured had some sort of purpose. Before I let you all get back to your regularly scheduled programming and this wonderful evening, and thank you to everybody who's been a part of this and put it on, here's a few things I want to share that I learned on this journey about chronic illness.

I've got 10 of them, sorry, you got to sit through 10. So number one is perspective. Someone once told me, if we all put all our problems into a pile, like picture you're sitting around a campfire, you'd quickly grab yours back. What I took away from that, excuse my French, is we all have crap, and most people have it far worse than I do. So to keep that perspective. Number two, everyone's fighting a battle that you don't know about, so to be kind. That's somebody else's quote. I'm not sure who, it was a few different people on the Internet, but it's true. Everybody has something. Number, three priorities. Your health and happiness is number one, not the hamster wheel of success that I was chasing. Number four, it's okay to say no to protect your health and to protect your peace. Number five, rest is medicine. You're not being lazy.

Number six, don't forget about your passions and to laugh and to have fun. That gives you energy. Number seven, our thoughts and words have power. Stay positive. Glass half full. Number eight, you are not alone. We are all fighting this battle together. Number nine, when we know better, we do better. That I know is the late great Maya Angelo, and basically that means more research, more funding, and we owe that to this next generation. These young girls are so much stronger and more empowered, I know, than even I was and and they deserve better. That's why we're all here tonight. Lastly, I truly believe this from the bottom of my heart. But you can go through life and you can assume that there's no rhyme or reason to what's unfolding, or you can believe everything's a miracle. So look for your angels. The people that give you unconditional love and support.

I find that helping others really helps me too. So try to be an angel to someone else if you can. I want to close by thanking my angels. My mother, who has spent countless hours praying for me and was there for every surgery. My father, for his unrelenting support and steadiness. My husband, for taking care of me when I can't take care of myself. I bet he wishes he could go back the NBA and be single again, because he's endured a lot of lame weekends because of me. My sisters, for being my emotional strength and pushing me when I have nothing left in the tank. That's my endo story. That's our endo story. But that is far from the end of our story. Thank you everybody. Thank you for caring. Have a blessed evening. Okay. I didn't cry that much.