As you may know, March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and as part of our effort to educate and empower, the team at MedAnswers also wanted to put a spotlight on some EndoWarriors who are not only thriving despite their diagnosis, but are helping others to do the same.
April Christina (aka ImAprilChristina) is opening up new conversations around endometriosis. As the founder of EndoNMe – now I’m April Christina – April has inspired and empowered not just those living with Endometriosis, but those living with chronic illnesses of all kinds. She turned her “pain into passion” and has made a huge impact on the lives of many through her blog, social media accounts and EndoBrunch.
April’s strength, vulnerability and commitment to empowering through education and self-love inspires us every day and we are so excited to share a bit of her story with you today!
I know you have told this story many times, but can you share a bit about your journey to being diagnosed with endometriosis?
My official diagnosis came after an encounter with a former patient of mine – I was working as a certified nursing assistant – who happened to be an OB/GYN. During a check in with her to see how she was doing, I felt comfortable enough to share my symptoms and menstrual cycle. It was then that she immediately told me I had “Endometriosis.” I didn’t know what that was and asked her to say it again real slow. Upon researching, everything started to make sense for me.
After that encounter with her casually diagnosing me, she became my new GYN. In December of 2011, I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis. That diagnosis came after I underwent an exploratory laparoscopy. Ten months after that, I started experiencing breakthrough bleeding. That was when I went for a second opinion with an endometriosis specialist. He confirmed I had to get an excision surgery. March 2012 I had my seven hour excision surgery.
You recently wrote a blog post for Well + Good on how endo has taught you to respect your own limits. What are some other – possibly unexpected – lessons that this journey has taught you?
I have learned to ask questions. When I first started out on my journey, because I was not educated on endo, I trusted everything that was told to me – without my own research. The “baby” in this endo journey did not know any better. I know now that no question is off limits. How you feel and what you are going through is valid.
I know now that no question is off limits. How you feel and what you are going through is valid.
Why do you think it’s been so taboo to talk about reproductive health in general and specifically for people of color?
I feel it has been so taboo to discuss reproductive health sometimes because of shame. As a woman when we get older, some of us desire to have a family. When I was faced with a chronic condition like endometriosis, the first thing I thought about was having children. What that would look like. Would I be able to get married with endometriosis. Specifically as a woman of color, because our community is known to have fibroids, my physicians bypassed thinking I had endometriosis. I was proactive with going to my doctor when I did not feel well, but I was dismissed. When I ultimately received a diagnosis now nine years ago, I was searching for answers for ten years!
You have chosen to bravely work to break those taboos and share your story on Instagram. Was that a conscious choice or just something that happened over time?
I started my social media platform because I was tired of being depressed and talking to myself about endo. My main objective of talking on Instagram about endometriosis was to find other women like me so I did not feel alone anymore.
View this post on Instagram
Happy New Decade! 🎊🎊🎊 Within the last ten years I have: 1. Was diagnosed with #endometriosis 2. Had two surgeries for Endo. One being seven hours long. 3. Had a breast cancer scare. 4. Embarked on staying in NYC while my entire immediate family relocated 5. Took hold of my mental health & started therapy. 6. Established a covenant platform with my husband @happilyalexander 7. Married my heart @gregoryalexander_ 8. Suffered and survived a crazy accident. 9. Traveled & spoke on behalf with amazing companies. 10. Birthed @theendobrunch All in all every experience have made me stronger in each way. #endometriosis in now apart of my ministry! Well into planning my second @theendobrunch. I’ve opened myself up to love & also realized that there is nothing wrong with discussing #mentalhealth. Here’s to more growth, vision, & being great! ♥️💕 📷: @journeyswithshaka
What advice would you give to a person who is newly diagnosed or suspects they may have endometriosis.
If your gut says that something is going on with your body, believe it. We know our body best. Early detection is key. Do not neglect care or obtaining a second opinion if needed.
I wish I was diagnosed earlier. That would have explained my adolescent and teenage years. I started my menstrual cycle when I was nine years old. I was not diagnosed until I was 27 years old. Imagine the 18 year interim of doing the best I could until I received an answer.
What has this journey taught you about advocating for yourself and others?
I find joy in advocacy because it is endless! Your journey is your journey and no one can take that away from you. With having a chronic condition such as endometriosis, there are newfound ways and tactics that I continue to find out about and more importantly, share. I have met some amazing endo warriors on my journey and I could not be more happier. I never want anyone to go through what I went through.
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April Christina is a New York City based wellness and beauty blogger. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Clinical Laboratory Science with a minor in Psychology in hopes to pursue her goal of becoming a chemistry professor. But after being diagnosed with endometriosis in December of 2010, her goal then changed. April reevaluated what matters most to her in life. April wanted to spread her knowledge and life experiences with endometriosis. She decided to turn her pain into passion and her passion into purpose by educating others about their health. April Christina now is focused on promoting holistic approaches to the human body.