Sunday, June 16, 2024


A YOUNG Kilkeel woman who bravely decided to have a hysterectomy aged just 30, to counter the crippling effects of endometriosis, will share her experience in her hometown next week in a bid to help other women. Despite the surgery two years ago, Samantha Campbell’s battle with the condition – and experiencing perimenopausal symptoms brought on as a result of the major operation – the local woman still lives with the effects of the condition. Despite her long-term health issue, Samantha is sharing her experience to help others in a similar situation and will next Wednesday (14 June) continue with her goal of breaking the stigma of what are often, still, taboo subjects. Driven with the goal of educating and supporting others on a similar path, Samantha still sees “a lack of support and information” and with that in mind, is encouraging anyone aged 18 or over who suffers with endometriosis, or is experiencing the perimenopause or menopause, to come along to next week’s event.

The event – which Samantha has emphasised will be informal and in a safe and caring environment – will also include input from local therapist Mary Brannigan, a Q&A session and a talk about women’s mental health. The symptoms of endometriosis can vary, meaning it can take time for a diagnosis – in Samantha’s case it took 11 years. It is a long-term condition, where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Globally, it affects one in 10 women. Some women are badly affected, including pain that stops you doing normal activities, nausea, constipation and or diarrhoea, blood in your urine and difficulty conceiving; while others might not have any noticeable symptoms.

Despite the seriousness of the disease, Samantha and others in a similar situation feel endometriosis and the menopause and its earlier effects, are still seen as taboo subjects, with some sufferers fearing they will be stigmatised or not offered the support they need and deserve. “This event can help so many women in Newry and Mourne as the taboo around women’s health is still not great and needs to be broken. If this can happen, many women from any age group will feel more comfortable talking about women’s health issues especially these two,” said Samantha, who in her case was plagued with a raft of symptoms, including heavy blood loss, clots, fainting and dizziness. After becoming “so desperate for it all to stop”, she opted to have the radical surgery. Around the same time, she decided to create an Instagram account to share her journey of living with endometriosis – from diagnosis and treatment, through to her surgery and her life afterwards.

In addition, Samantha was one of a dozen brave women who recently penned their journeys with endometriosis in a recently published book – Hear is Roar – in a bid to help support other women and raise awareness. And with her ongoing desire to help support and educate others, Samantha reached out to the Mourne Matters project and Kilkeel Development Association to see what could be done locally. “I feel strongly about educating and supporting others who are on a similar path to me,” she explained, adding that since her diagnosis in 2015, and after years of struggling with endometriosis and more recently perimenopause, alongside requiring ongoing mental health support to manage depression with chronic pain, she “still want to be able to do more to help in any way I can.” She said next week’s event will be “relaxed and informal” and that she will be sharing her journeys with endometriosis, menopause and mental health, as well as highlighting how she has been through two ‘chemical’ menopauses and a surgical one, explain about the different types, and give some advice to those in the room who think they may have one or more of these conditions. “As a sufferer of endometriosis, I still see lack of support and information in the local area so I have put together this event, which will be the first of many, were I can talk openly and hopefully help others that suffer from either menopause or endometriosis,” she explained. Putting on record her thanks to everyone for their help and support to date, Samantha added: “My goal is that this event will help so many women in Newry and Mourne as the taboo around women’s health is still not great; it needs to be broken and, if this can happen, many women from any age group will feel more comfortable talking about their health issues, especially these two.”

Acknowledging that women “should not be suffering alone,” Samantha concluded by encouraging women to attend next week’s event. “I am in my 30s and have experienced a lot in regards to menstrual and mental health. Since my early 20s I have had to battle with chronic pain because of endometriosis. I have also been in and out of types of menopause, as there is more than just natural and perimenopause. “I really hope lots of women come along next week, and they are more than welcome to bring along a relative or friend. But, due to the nature of topics due to be discussed, it is a ladies-only event. “Alongside myself there will be local therapist Mary Brannigan. We will providing advice on mental health such as depression and anxiety. “We all see the lack of support in the community so this is why we have chosen to do it. I do not want anyone sitting scared or in silence, afraid if they have been recently diagnosed or living with one or more of the conditions. We would be happy to see them sitting in the room with us next Wednesday, so please come along.”

Kilkeel Development Association’s chief executive, Donna McConnell, has also encouraged people to attend. She said the setting will be “a supportive and caring environment” where local women can share their concerns and experiences, should they choose to. “There are perceptions and then there are experiences, and this will help outline and address this,” she said, before explaining that the organisation is keen to promote women’s health and tackle taboo subjects as well as support women in the workplace as well as in the home. The event, which is free of charge, will take place at 7pm in the Mourne Matters hub in the Nautilus Centre at the harbour, and attendees are asked to enter the building through the double doors on the Rooney Road entrance.

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