Sophie Monk shares her lifelong battle of endometriosis with friend and endometriosis ambassador Mel Greig:
I was saddened and shocked to see last week that Sophie Monk had been diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 38.
Today I called her and checked in to see how she’s going after her first surgery, and I was blown away by her story.
Sophie’s been silently battling for 26 years, going undiagnosed despite multiple doctor and hospital visits, and over 20 ambulance rides to the emergency room. She’s endured seven consecutive hours of vomiting and felt like a hypochondriac for decades, hiding what was happening to her in fear of letting people down.
What’s happened to Sophie sadly happens to so many women, and the more we talk about endometriosis, the closer we get to finding a cure. It’s time for people to understand how painful this condition is and how common it actually is.
We spoke for an hour and in true Sophie fashion, she was thinking of everyone else and wondered if there was anything she could do to help other women going through a similar battle.
I asked if she wanted to share her journey of endometriosis to help normalise it, and she was quick to say, “Of course, I’m not embarrassed that I have a condition that so many women are affected by.”
Sophie first noticed that something wasn’t quite right from her very first cycle at the age of 12, the excruciating back and leg pain was instant, as well as that all too familiar feeling of being stabbed in the reproductive area. The pain so unbearable that she was left feeling nauseous.
Growing up, both Sophie and I thought the bad period pain was normal, there was no education surrounding endometriosis. Getting diagnosed 20 years ago sadly wasn’t even a reality.
When Sophie was in her 20s the symptoms worsened, and nausea turned to aggressive vomiting –sometimes for seven consecutive hours. At 28 Sophie called her first of over 20 ambulances, the pain was so excruciating she couldn’t walk and at one point had to crawl to the ambulance.
This is sadly something very common for sufferers – I average four hospital trips a year and the only thing that can help is strong pain relief. Unfortunately, when you have to do it constantly you do feel like you’re being judged, ‘She’s back again, what’s really going on?’.
Each time Sophie went to hospital they would run tests and not once did they ever suggest she could have endometriosis.
This was happening to her every cycle, every four weeks she would prepare for the worst. If you think back to Sophie at 28, she was living overseas dominating in her career, I wonder how she managed to maintain her career in such pain.
At one stage she checked out of the hospital and went straight to set. She didn’t know what was wrong and she hid it from everyone around her, she didn’t want to let anyone down or not show up due to her mystery illness and she certainly didn’t want to look like a hypochondriac.
Do you know how vulnerable you feel going to the hospital alone? To not understand why you are feeling such pain? We’ve all been there Sophie, this is what sufferers go through.
At one point a GP suggested she should see a stomach specialist because of the vomiting, they thought it was a stomach issue and again endometriosis was never suggested. The specialist suggested that she should have her gallbladder removed, but Soph wanted to try and keep all of her organs and didn’t agree to the surgery.
Two weeks ago, she went to Monash IVF on the Gold Coast to look into getting her eggs frozen, she saw Doctor Kee Ong who was thankfully an endometriosis specialist as well as an IVF specialist and within five minutes of asking questions about her bad period and back pain, she was diagnosed.
After 26 years, the right doctor was convinced after five minutes that she had endometriosis. Again, sadly this is the reality for so many women. Too many doctors get it wrong.
A week later she was booked in for her first keyhole surgery. As she was going under, she prayed that she had endometriosis, to finally have an answer for her 26 years of pain and when that diagnosis came through, she was grateful to finally have an answer.
When I met Sophie four years ago on Celebrity Apprentice, I remember saying to her that she had a few symptoms of endometriosis, but some of them didn’t match up. Even long-term friend Jackie O had noticed similar symptoms.
Sophie trusted the medical system, and no medical professionals were telling her it could be endometriosis. The relief of finally being diagnosed is unexplainable, to know that it’s not in your head and to understand what is happening to your body.
The surgery was successful, and Sophie was diagnosed stage 1 – the stage levels aren’t a pain indicator, someone with stage 1 can have more pain that someone with stage 4.
Thankfully, Sophie’s eggs and reproductive system are healthy, and she will now experience her first cycle in 26 years pain-free.
As we ended the call, I explained just how powerful it was for women that she is sharing her story and she said, “If I can just help one woman not go through what I had to for the past 26 years, it’s worth it”.
We then joked about her bed pan and how hot her new boyfriend is.
Sophie, you are one of a kind, so incredibly kind, funny and a heart of gold. Thank you for helping us break down the stigma surrounding endometriosis.
– Mel Greig