TO THOSE AFFECTED IN ANY way by endometriosis: I know the pain you've been battling. You hurt, a lot, more than anyone else can comprehend. You feel alone and hopeless. You're physically and mentally drained, nearing your breaking point, if you haven't reached it already. You've tried repeatedly for years to get someone, anyone, to listen to you, to understand what you're going through—a friend, a family member, a school nurse, even a doctor—but they don't. They dismiss your issue as a "girl problem" or a "woman thing," as a disease or condition that it's not, or as something that will magically fix itself over time. They couldn't be more wrong; you know it in your gut, and I know it for a fact. I know it, not due to experiencing this pain myself, but because I was taught by listening to my patients.
To the woman who has had multiple surgeries without symptom relief: You deserve better treatment, and there is better treatment. Your doctor is probably giving you the best care he or she has been trained to give, but there are better options that you haven't tried, options that can end your suffering.
To the woman who needs laparoscopic deep-excision surgery but cannot afford it: There are specialists who would be willing to help. You may have to spend more time and resources and conduct more research than you would if you were contending with some other illness, but INTRODUCTION A Letter to You from Dr. Seckin considering what the results will be compared to the pain you're in now, it will be worth your effort.
To the woman with endometriosis who wants to have a child and is seeking assistance from a fertility clinic, but who hasn't yet become pregnant because the real cause of the problem hasn't been addressed: You can tremendously increase your chances of conceiving a child if the disease is properly treated. Endometriosis is what is blocking your dream, and no fertility treatment can overpower it.
To the adolescent girl who regularly misses school, extracurriculars, and social activities because she is sick but doesn't know why: Yes, you are sick, very sick, no matter what anybody tries to tell you. Just because your girlfriends do not experience the same amount of pain that you do doesn't mean that what you are feeling isn't real. Despite what you have been told, killer cramps are not normal.
To the supportive family member desperately seeking a way to help your loved one who is suffering from endometriosis: I know how difficult this is for you and how much you want to help her. You feel helpless, but please know that she needs your support now more than ever. It's hard for you, but it's worse for her. She's not being dramatic. She really is as sick as she says she is. Together, we can help her get better. But you need to be part of the solution.
To the future doctors whose responsibility it will be to care for patients with endometriosis: We have to work together, not simply to help them get through each day, but to conquer this beast so they can live their lives the way every person deserves to—in peace, comfort, happiness, and without worry or pain. We have to combine the right expertise with an indescribable passion to make them heal. This disease has been debilitating women for centuries. It has to stop now.
And to the woman who has been told by her doctor, family, or friends that she is "crazy," that the pain she feels is all in her head, that it's "not real": It is real. You know it, I know it, the few thousand women I have operated on over the last three decades know it, and the tens of millions of women around the world who have endometriosis know it. You may feel isolated and hopeless right now, but you're not. This book, recounting stories from courageous women who were once in your shoes, will help you see that. It will also give you the knowledge and confidence to advocate for yourself and others from this day forward as together we create a long-overdue awareness about this dreadful disease.
Dr. Tamer Seckin