By Marshelle Haseley | Photography by Craig Harley
A friday night, post work get together to purchase and share bottles of wine and unwind with your pals, for a cause- a great way to end the week. Shauna Fuller Clarke’s B.A.S.E. Foundation teamed up with organiser, Sabrina Webster to deliver a clean and classic affair to enhance Endometriosis awareness- awidespread , yet sadly insufficiently discussed disease. A crippling affliction that impacts every fibre of what it means to be a woman, affecting millions of women worldwide. Research has indicated that one in every ten women is being affected by this condition in this moment, while you read this article. The event, hosted by the stunning world class ATL Audi Showroom on Oxford Road, Kingston, had at its crux, the intention of calling attention to Endometriosis and the impact it has on women of all ages, from all walks of life. The patronage was a clear indication that this disease cares not to whom you were born, how young you may be, or what responsibilities you must carry out in your professional life; forming a diverse family of “Endo Sisters” here in Jamaica. The depth of the experiences shared would not be readily seen in the showroom amidst patrons and serverswaltzing to and from the bar with purchased of bottles of wine; enjoying fashion displays, movement inducing music and live performances. These were the powerfulconversations revolving around the character- building encounter with Endometriosis endured by so many women in the showroom. It was stunning how these amazing women were able to gleam through the pain a lot of them experienced, even while they spoke with Panache Magazine. Women willingly disclosed notonly how Endometriosis shifted their life experience, but also how it shook the worlds of their loved ones who journey with them day by day. It was an eye- opening and humbling experience, speaking with this wide cross-section of persons impacted so deeply by Endometriosis. The debilitating pain caused by this condition is defined by medicalnewstoday.com in their July 13, 2015 article, Endometriosis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment as “…a painful medical condition in which endometrial implants, comprised of tissue normally found within the uterus, are present in other areas of the body.” The technicalities were further indicated as being “…problematic as the tissue continues to as as though it is within the uterine cavity and counties to thicken, break down and bleed during a woman’s menstrual cycle and becomes trapped within the area of the body affected… scar tissue and adhesions form when irritation of the surrounding tissues occur causing organ fusion and anatomical changes.” Based on that brief exploration of the nature of Endometriosis, it is evident why the debilitating pain that many women described would cause them to contort and move from foetal position to some never before seen. Shauna Fuller- Clarke, founder of B.A.S.E. Foundation described the attack the disease launched on your body. Fuller- Clarke, who has been fighting Endometriosis for eight (8) years, elaborated on her experience of having one of her lungs collapse as a result of tissues constricting her organ. She passionately tries to spread hope and advice for women facing Endo- indicating that through exercise and dietary modifications such as cutting back on gluten intake, the self identified foodie has been able to manage the symptoms. It was in response to hearing of the suffering endured by Shauna and other friends that Sabrina Webster, organiser of the event began the process a year ago. She envisioned an event that would bring awareness to a disease that seems overlooked, even though it is just as debilitating and harrowing as cancers. Webster mentioned how deeply impacted she was by the stories she heard and felt like it was necessary for her to give back; and this was a wonderful way for her to give of herself for a cause that could help to change lives and save young women from having to get to the point of a lung collapse before doing thorough medical exams. According to Sara Stanford, co-owner of Bliss Bridal Boutique, who has been coping with Endo for over seven (7) years “..if your periods push you over the edge every time, its not normal, and it should be checked out.” Looking at Sara, one would not imagineher suffering at the hand of Endometriosis. Sara’s vibrant spirit, like so many of the women who fight this disease are exemplary of regal resilience. Reigning Miss Jamaica World, Ashlie Barrett, younger sister of Sara Stanford, shared that endometriosis has shown evidence of being hereditary. Ashlie was diagnosed at the age of sixteen after having felt sick for an extended period of time. She spoke of how her sister’s journey helped her in her process of coping with Endometriosis. When asked how she managed to win the Miss Jamaica World Pageant, bearing pain, Ashlie explained that in spite of the pain and discomfort she was ironically empowered by the pain she had to withstrand- a condition she sees as an unfortunate thing that happened to her, but has had the positive effect of allowing her to feel as if there isn’t anything in life that she would not be able to fight through. Ashlie further stated that by no means did she feel at a disadvantage in competing for the crown of Miss Jamaica World 2016, despite the pain she bore throughout the competition. Like diamonds, these women seem to become even stronger and more beautiful from the conditions they exist within. Panache got to speak with the host of the event, another Endo Sister, Roxene Nickel. Roxane has been fighting and coping now for eight year. The depth at which the condition has built tissue on every fibre of what allows her to identify with being a normal woman was tear kindling. She spoke of her difficulties in forming a family of her own. Even while speaking with us, she indicated that she was experiencing some discomfort. Pain has become a part of her daily experience, it is just a matter of the degree to which the pain grabs. An experience described also by Sara, Shauna and other women with whom I spoke. In spite of this unfortunate affliction, Roxene finds a positive in her suffering; seeing these experiences as the first hand hit that allows her to most effectively deliver a message on the importance of Endo awareness and coping mechanisms and advice for other women affected. Among the interesting interactions, was meeting Kamoy Douglas- Clarke. A discussion surrounding her journey- from being told she would never be able to have children, to continuing to battle nine years later. Kamoy was granted the miracle of giving birth to her three sons. While counting her blessings, she spoke of her reality, which ties into her inability to participate as practically as she would like in the activities of her young sons. She recalls being asked by her eldest son, who is now nine year old, why it is that she’s always in bed, and why she is not able to play with them; all of which is also painful on a level beyond the physiological suffering. Kamoy smiled gracefully as we spoke, her warm presence and gentle demeanour reflected someone who lived a life of pure bliss, and not a woman who experiences debilitating pain on such a regular basis.
Brian Stanford, co-owner of Bliss Bridal Boutique makes reference to the pain that would seem to make a contortionist out of his wife, Sara. When discussing the condition he asked “You know ben’ up? That’s what this thing does to Sara.” Brian undoubtedly carries out, not only the function of husband, but he has been a doctor of sorts, having to understand the condition as well as any patient would have to; and has to be there for his wife who he refers to as his soulmate, every step of the way. The impact of Endo on his wife, has a deep impact on his life, from the emotional strain of seeing his wife in pain, and feeling helpless, to sometimes leaving social gatherings to tend to the needs of his wife- Brian would do it no other way. The event raised a total of…. and through live social media posts from attendees, without a doubt, further awareness would have been brought to this rampant and aggressive disease. The endeavour and event was graciously facilitated by ATL Automotive. Matthew Cripps General Manager of ATL Automotive asserted that “…one in every ten woman is affected by Endometriosiss, and sixty percent of Audi customers are women- there is no way we could not have supported this cause.” We look forward to witnessing expanding initiatives that will help to educate our population on these diseases which remain understated- but have the potential to impact the deepest fibres of our humanity. |P|