Millen Magese lives with endometriosis and she is no more afraid to say it out loud. Diagnosed 10 years ago, the 34-year-old Tanzanian model finally went public with her condition last March on the World Endometriosis Month.
She tells Radiant Health in their latest edition about living with endometriosis, being silenced by the taboo and stigma that comes with difficult health challenges, and finally finding her voice with the example of actress Rita Dominic.
Millen has had several miscarriages, had her ovary pack up, lost some of her fallopian tube, and in February, she faced her fears and underwent an IVF cycle so that some of her still surviving eggs could be retrieved and saved, a chance for her to have biological children in the future.
Though she knows the magnitude of speaking out about health conditions to do with sex or infertility, Millen Magese is adamant about the need to raise awareness, even if it is just to help one other woman.
“I was not always open about it until my wake-up call in February. I was only able to produce three eggs. It takes its toll on you emotionally, in addition to the financial commitment involved. And when the trail to save my fallopian tubes came to naught, it was at this point that I decided to talk about it.”
“I was still recovering from my egg-retrieval procedure, and the result was just too emotional. Together with all that was happening, I felt it was my call to speak out without a care about myself anymore. If I could help one woman, that was enough for me. It feels good that I was able to touch quite a lot of women, and even better that I’m no longer alone as I go through this. That I’m able to speak about my problem is part of my healing.”
You don’t want to know the emotional breakdown, the depression, the frustration and the questions I asked myself as someone battling with a medical challenge for which one of its symptoms is what looks and feels like a taboo subject to speak about as an African woman: ‘Period pains or pains during sex.’ These are things that are private for most of us Africans, and I didn’t know how people would receive it, and as a public figure, I wasn’t sure how it would play out. But I’m not talking about it as a public figure. I’m speaking out as a woman.”
“I have one rule in life when it comes to health and making a change: when you can help someone, don’t allow shame and other people’s judgement to become an obstacle. It has been 10 years since my diagnosis, and it has taken a total of 12 surgeries, multiple attempts to reopen my blocked fallopian tubes, a non-functional ovary, miscarriages, and three IVF egg-retrieval procedures during one IVF cycle for me to speak out.”
“I really didn’t care how negatively people will take it. Instead, I posted my story on social media in the hope that one woman will be touched and be able relate to my challenge. It turns out a lot of women could, and for that I’m grateful.”