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Q&A with ENPOWR EduKit volunteer Jessica Murnane

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Author, podcast host, and EFA volunteer, Jessica Murnane, describes her experience with teaching the Endo EduKit in South Carolina!

 

EFA: How did you first get involved in the endometriosis community?

Jessica: It had a lot to do with you! I definitely connected with other women with endo, have written about it, and my cookbook happened because of my own journey with the disease…but it wasn’t until I received your newsletter about needing volunteers for The ENPOWR Project that I was inspired to get more involved with educating young women. I really have to thank you for that. 

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EFA: How long have you been an EduKit volunteer, and what first inspired you to get involved?

Jessica: I’ve been involved only for a few months now, but it’s been so powerful and amazing so far! It really was your newsletter that sparked my interest. With all of my work, I’ve really only been speaking to women around my own age. You made me realize just how important it was to speak to the next generation of women. I had never even heard the word endometriosis until my late 20s when I was diagnosed. It’s now part of my mission to help every young woman out there know that word and what it means. It can potentially change her life or another woman she knows.

EFA: What made you want to support the Endometriosis Foundation of America?

Jessica: As a woman with endometriosis that is finally in a place where my symptoms are manageable and am no longer controlled by this disease, I felt that it was my duty to help other women. I have Stage 4 and there were points in my life that I didn’t want to be awake anymore because of the pain. I never want another woman to ever feel that way. But I’m just one person and wanted to find an organization that was helping women on a larger scale. That was you. Forever grateful that I found your site!

EFA: Why is it important for others to support the EFA?

Jessica: Because education is key when it comes to endometriosis. It takes a woman an average of ten years to be diagnosed and this just isn’t acceptable anymore. We need to support organizations like the EFA that are going to provide the education and awareness that women need surrounding endo.

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EFA: Can you share a little bit about your personal story with endometriosis?

Jessica: I was diagnosed with everything BUT endometriosis over the years. Doctors made me feel like I was a weak and difficult person as I continued to come in month after month with my symptoms. It wasn’t until one of my cysts ruptured that I was able to get diagnosed. But that diagnosis didn’t stop the pain and certain drugs, pills, and a surgery (that was not done properly) only made me feel worse. I was faced with a possible hysterectomy when I decided to change to whole foods plant-based diet. My whole life changed. Because I wasn’t in so much pain anymore, I was able to exercise again. I wasn’t depressed anymore because of that exercise. Food isn’t a cure, but it is a first step. I now have about 20% of my symptoms and can even get out of bed on my period. Something I never thought was possible!

EFA: How do you think things would have been different for you had you seen an ENPOWR/EduKit presentation at your school?

Jessica: Everything would be different. I would have known that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal and I wouldn’t have felt so alone. The tricky thing with endo is that you would have no idea so many of the symptoms you’re feeling are related to the disease. There are so many doctors that aren’t connecting the dots; we need more endo warriors out there leading the way to help change young women’s lives.

EFA: Can you describe your experience presenting the EduKit to high school students?

Jessica: The students were a little quiet a first wondering “who’s this lady rolling into their class at 8am to talk about periods?!” But, as I shared my story and talked to them on an honest and personal level (with humor) they started to open up and ask questions. It’s hard to remember just how weird it was to talk about periods in high school. I needed to take a step back and acknowledge that this is still a difficult topic for some, even if I’m super comfortable with it.

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EFA: Describe the impact you have seen in the community through the work you have been involved with.

Jessica: It’s the little things you share that can turn into big conversations. The other day, I shared with my son’s teacher that I had a website. She asked what it was about and then I told her about my story with endo and it how lead to creating the website. I told her briefly about endo symptoms (I always try to squeeze that into conversations surrounding endo). She told me that it sounded a lot like her sister’s symptoms. She asked me to write down the word “endometriosis” and she shared it with her sister who had never heard of that word before. A few weeks later, my son’s teacher thanked me. Her sister was diagnosed with endo. After years and years of being in pain, she finally had an answer! It’s so important to share our stories and symptoms with people that are curious and want to listen. You never know who you can help.

EFA: What advice would you offer for anyone who might be interested in volunteering with the EduKit?

Jessica: DO IT! Yes, teenagers can be a little intimidating. We’ve all seen the movie, Mean Girls. But man, is it so worth it. You’re not just educating these young women either. They might take this information and share it with their friends or even their own mothers. It’s a chain reaction that is so important. This work is powerful.

 

If you're interested in volunteering with the EFA and bringing the Endo EduKit to your hometown, please fill out this application!