I love it when “girly issues” refuse to be glossed over and come exploding out in everyone’s face.
Dancing with the Stars contestant Julianne Hough left the show this week due a ruptured ovarian cyst. She has been diagnosed with endometriosis and is sharing her story on her blog. Endo (who has time for six syllables?) is a little-understood and often extremely painful condition that affects the female reproductive organs.
“Last week my management and the other people around me were trying to think of something else I could say that was wrong with me, but I was like, don’t worry. I want to be a good role model. I want to be honest. Maybe some girl out there won’t wait too long like I did. I’m just glad I’m taking care of it now because I want to have babies some day. I don’t want to jeopardize my health.”
When Hough’s illness was first reported, we heard she had stomach pain and a burst appendix. I understand there are a few reasons why they wouldn’t want to come out with the truth.
For one, endometriosis is a gateway word. Say it out loud and before long you’re also saying things like “ovary” and “uterine tissue” and “internal bleeding” and “ruptured cyst” and “I black out from pain that feels like burning shrapnel is expanding endlessly throughout my entire pelvic region.”
It’s not pretty.
Plus, Hough is absolutely entitled to her privacy. If she wants to tell the world it’s just an ingrown toe nail, I support that.
However, I do give her a fuzzy pair of these for having the courage to come out with the truth. Living with endo often means living in secrecy and silence. Hough will make a difference by sharing her story, which is typical of many:
- her pain went unchecked for years
- she brushed it off as severe cramps that she had to tough out alone
- it can be genetic: her mother and sister have it
- although doctors predict she’ll be back in action about four days after her surgery, she knows (likely from watching her mom and sister) that it actually takes a lot longer to recover
So I am offended (but not surprised) that they tried to pass off an “icky women’s condition” as something more dignified and gender neutral like appendicitis. Interestingly, the Fancast post no longer contains the section (quoted above) about how Hough’s management wanted to skim over her condition, but the comments indicate it was there for a time.
Not-so-fun fact: Baby Spice has also received news coverage for her endo.
Sending good wishes to Hough, who is apparently healing well after surgery. There is no way I can do the disease justice in a blog post, so if you want the real picture, you should talk to people who learn to live with it every day.