Sandra Gelbard, MD - Blossom Ball 2019

Sandra Gelbard, MD - Blossom Ball 2019

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

Sandra Gelbard, MD

Thank you all again for being with us tonight. I want to start by thanking a few people right off. Subrata De, my Blossom Co-Chair, it's been such a pleasure working with you both here on the Ball and on the Board as a Board member. To Dr. Seckin and Padma, thank you for starting such an incredibly important foundation which is paving the way for real change, and thank you to the three women we are honoring tonight for being the voice to so many women.

What is endometriosis? Most people have never heard of this disease and there still seems to be so much confusion. As an internist, it's amazing that I only first heard about endometriosis just a few years ago. Shockingly, doctors are not taught about this in medical school. They never mentioned it in all my years of training and yet today, it's become an integral part of my practice as I help more and more women manage this disease. My patients, many of whom are sitting in this audience, you were my teachers.

In simple terms, endometriosis is when tissue that should only be in the uterus exists outside the uterus and it can be anywhere. With each menstrual cycle, these cells get inflamed or as I like to tell my patients, catch on fire, often creating excruciating pain. It leads to pain with bowel movement, pain with sex, and in rare cases can involve other organs such as the lungs, as one patient sitting her tonight knows all too well.

I always equate endometriosis to having little fires pop up in your body in any location, in any time, and without any warning. These women lose their support systems because they're forced to drop out of life on a moment's notice. With no diagnosis and only often a referral to a psychiatrist, these patients start to blame themselves. From anti-depressants to opioids to hormones, they try them all but nothing works.

Tonight is proof that we are moving in the right direction. Look at the women who are here tonight who are changing the face of this disease. They are sharing their stories, tearing down walls, and breaking through the stigma that women shouldn't talk about their periods and they're offering hope. From all the endo sisters here tonight to Halsey to Padma to Lena, Susan to Fran, to Molly to Aliyah, you are changing the dialogue. This disease needs a better way for doctors to diagnose it and treat it. Quite simply, we need a cure.

I want to share a personal story that began a few months before last year's Blossom Ball. I got a call from someone that there was someone who was a public figure thinking about coming out and speaking about their struggle with endometriosis. We spoke about her concerns, especially because she worked in a male predominated industry. There is such a stigma surrounding this disease, which can affect your job, your relationship with family, your relationship with your partner, and your relationship with yourself.

Well, that woman is tonight's Blossom Award recipient, Molly Qerim Rose. She and I finally met at last year's Blossom Ball. We sat secretly in a corner and it was clear she was soaking it all in. For many women, including Molly, they have never been in a room filled with women who suffer the same way they do. Later on she told me it was that night, the sisterhood, the camaraderie, Halsey's electrifying speech, maybe my speech had something to do with it, that prompted her decision to share her incredible personal journey with endometriosis, a story she's going to share with you tonight.

Molly is many things. She is the host of one of ESPN's most popular and highest rated shows First Take. She is an Emmy Award winning journalist. She is wife of former NBA player and current ESPN ABC analyst Jalen Rose. Molly is being honored tonight with the Endometriosis Foundation of America Blossom Award for her courage and strength to tell her story and become a voice for women around the world who have endometriosis. Please join me in welcoming this very courageous woman, Molly Qerim Rose.