A Fife woman who received special recognition for raising awareness about endometriosis – a condition which affects one in ten UK women – has been telling her story in a new book.
Claire Watson (37) was diagnosed in May 2011 after 16 years of mis-diagnosis and it changed her life forever.
For a long time doctors thought she had IBS and even depression.
She was ultimately seen by a gynaecologist who immediately sent Claire for a diagnostic laparascopy, which is the only way the condition can be detected.
Endometriosis is caused by tissue, which normally grows inside the womb, growing in the pelvic area, leading to inflammation, scarring and adhesions.
It can cause women a great deal of pain. Symptoms include painful and irregular periods, pain during and after intercourse, bowel problems and fatigue.
Soon after diagnosis, Claire set up a support page on Facebook called Endometriosis Fife – which has links to the Endometriosis UK site.
She also became the leader of Fife’s first support group for women with the condition, Endo Fife, on behalf of the national charity, Endo UK.
She organises meetings every two months at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, meets members for coffee and a chat on a one-to-one basis, and has also held local events to raise awareness.
In August this year she was recognised at the Kingdom FM Local Hero Awards 2017 at Rothes Halls in Glenrothes where she was named Volunteer of the Year.
Claire, who is married to Scott and has two boys, said: “The Kingdom FM Awards was an amazing night.
“I was so shocked and honoured to be nominated, let alone win it!
“I wasn’t sure about going but I realised the awareness it would bring to Endo Fife.
“The night itself was so good – it was great meeting all these people who do so much for others without wanting anything back in return. It was so touching.
“When they called my name as the winner it took me a few seconds to realise they were talking about me!
“I just couldn’t believe it, it was so emotional.
“All I could think about was the girls in my support group, how much awareness this was going to bring to Endo Fife and how many more women I could reach.
“The awards recognise people for their hard work within Fife, so to win this meant everything to me.”
Claire, who lives in Methil, has recently found out that she has been nominated for another Volunteer of the Year accolade – this time for the Forth Awards taking place in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on November 16.
Claire and some of the women who attend her Fife support group also feature in a new book about endometriosis by writer Ingrid Hall.
Claire explained: “I was doing research about endometriosis and I happened to find Ingrid’s web page.
“I emailed her, we got talking and she told me about her plans for writing a book.
“She asked if she could write about me and a few of my support group members in Fife.
“Ingrid is a great lady and does so much work to raise awareness. She has endometriosis so she understands what it is like.
“Ingrid came up to Scotland to tell the ladies what her plans were and what she was hoping to achieve with the book.
“I also put it on my Facebook page asking any women to contact me if they would like to be involved but couldn’t make it along on the night of the meeting.”
Claire added: “The book is amazing and highlights so many things about living with endometriosis which many people just don’t understand. It will help educate people so they can see what it’s like living with the condition.
“It also has partners’ stories in it so you see it from their side too. It’s so important to get the book out there as there still isn’t enough awareness about it.
“Endometriosis is the second most common gynaecological problem there is in the UK but only 20 per cent of the general public have heard about it.
“We need more publicity to get the word out there so girls who are affected will not need to wait 16 years to get answers like I did.”
Writing about endometriosis
Ingrid Hall explained why she chose to write about endometriosis. She said: “I have wanted to write a book about it ever since I was diagnosed with the condition over 20 years ago.
“Over the past seven to eight years I have been developing my writing career and everything came together when I discovered Claire and her warriors up in Fife. They made my job so easy.
“It saddens me that more than 20 years after my own diagnosis, public awareness is still so low.
“I wanted to shine a spotlight on just how devastating endometriosis is.”
Endometriosis: Our Pain Is REAL is available now from Amazon.