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Endometriosis sufferers and experts speak at Bury St Edmunds event hosted by Eastern Education Group





A Suffolk woman who battled endometriosis for years before getting a diagnosis has shared her experience at an awareness event she organised.

Woodbridge resident Amy Peckham-Driver, who is communications manager for Eastern Education Group, hosted the event at the group’s XR Lab, in Bury St Edmunds, last month, which was Endometriosis Awareness Month.

The evening’s agenda featured a psychotherapist from Suffolk Mind and a gynaecology matron from West Suffolk Hospital, as well as Ms Peckham-Driver, Kynleigh Parker and Gabrielle Pemberton who all shared their experiences with endometriosis.

Amy Peckham-Driver battled the disease for years before getting a diagnosis. Picture: Amy Peckham-Driver
Amy Peckham-Driver battled the disease for years before getting a diagnosis. Picture: Amy Peckham-Driver

Endometriosis is an inflammatory whole-body disease where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows on other organs. It affects over 10 per cent of people who menstruate and symptoms can include debilitating pelvic pain, gastrointestinal issues, pain going to the toilet, severe bloating, infertility, and chronic fatigue.

There is currently no known cure, but there are a number of treatment pathways available for managing the condition.

Ms Peckham-Driver, who was inspired to arrange the event after her own battle with the disease, said: "I've wanted to host an event like this for such a long time.

Kynleigh Parker, Gabrielle Pemberton and Amy Peckham-Driver all shared their experiences with endometriosis. Picture: Eastern Education Group
Kynleigh Parker, Gabrielle Pemberton and Amy Peckham-Driver all shared their experiences with endometriosis. Picture: Eastern Education Group

“It's been an extremely long road for me, with my endometriosis symptoms starting at age 12. I wasn't officially diagnosed until I was 27 years old, meaning I suffered needlessly for years while medical professionals insisted that my severe period pain was 'normal'.

"Let me make this abundantly clear: severe period pain is NOT normal, despite what anyone may tell you, and it should never get in the way of you living your life.

"Endometriosis is a progressive disease, meaning it can get worse the longer it's left untreated.

“If someone had given me the help I needed at a younger age, and if I'd understood more about the disease at the start of my journey, I'd have been a better advocate for myself and maybe wouldn't have had to miss out on so many experiences in my life due to be chronically ill.

"That's really what this event was about for me; equipping other people with the information I wish I'd had when I was younger, so they can advocate for themselves and confidently demand the help they need when it comes to their own health.

"Endometriosis currently takes an average of eight years to be diagnosed in the UK, which is unforgivably poor for a disease which is as common as diabetes.

Amy Peckham-Driver discusses the various symptoms associated with endometriosis. Picture: Eastern Education Group
Amy Peckham-Driver discusses the various symptoms associated with endometriosis. Picture: Eastern Education Group

“This is why it's critically important to improve understanding among both endometriosis patients and healthcare professionals alike; to avoid prolonged and unnecessary suffering and give people the chance to enjoy their lives again."

Another speaker was endometriosis sufferer, Sudbury resident Kynleigh Parker, who works for Lovell Partnerships and is a student with University Studies at West Suffolk College, run by Eastern Education Group.

She bravely spoke about her experience with freezing her eggs and undergoing major surgery for stage four endometriosis.

She said: “I wanted to take part in this event with Eastern Education Group as I wanted to share my story with people who may be going through the same thing.

“Having a chronic illness can be such a lonely place, and I want women to feel empowered by having the best possible knowledge about the condition they’re facing.

“I want my story to serve as an example that endometriosis doesn’t have to define your life and that things can get better, and I want other women to know that they’re never alone in any of this.”

Kynleigh Parker talks about the process of freezing her eggs in order to preserve her fertility. Picture: Eastern Education Group
Kynleigh Parker talks about the process of freezing her eggs in order to preserve her fertility. Picture: Eastern Education Group

And Gabrielle Pemberton, who lives in Kesgrave, near Ipswich, discussed the relationship between chronic illness and mental health during her talk.

She said: “Imagine having one of the last painful, incurable illnesses in the world but no one knows why or how to prevent it.

“Now imagine going to your healthcare professional because this affects not only your physical health, but also your mental health, career path and intimate relationships, and the professional not having a solution that works. This is why endometriosis awareness and evenings, like tonight, are so important.”

Gabrielle Pemberton discussed the relationship between chronic illness and mental health during her talk. Picture: Eastern Education Group
Gabrielle Pemberton discussed the relationship between chronic illness and mental health during her talk. Picture: Eastern Education Group

Ms Peckham-Driver said she was 'thrilled' at the level of interest in the sold-out event and plans to host another later in the year.