Originally published by Stuff.co.nz
Some mornings, Harriet Watson lies in a ball on the floor, with pain “like a knife” stabbing her in her pelvis.
Watson has endometriosis, but she has found something unexpected that eases the intense pain – running.
Endometriosis New Zealand recommends physical activity and exercise as a tool to help manage the disease and the pain that comes with it. For Watson, it’s about keeping her mind busy and getting her body moving.
On Friday, she’ll set out on an eight-day mission torun the Heaphy, Old Ghost Road and Paparoa tracks and bike the parts in between, totalling 650km from Pūponga to Punakaiki, finishing in Ross on the West Coast to raise money and awareness for endometriosis.
Watson is one of the 120,000 girls and women in New Zealand – that’s about one in 10 – affected by the inflammatory disease endometriosis, which causes uterine lining tissue, the endometrium, to grow outside the uterus.
Watson has always been a runner, following in her father’s footsteps who ran marathons when she was younger.
At 16, she did her first Coast to Coast tandem race with her dad and will be doing it again next year.
When she was 19, Watson’s brother was in medical school and learned about the disease, encouraging her to look into it.
She had no idea where to start, so she called the endometriosis helpline.
“They were so helpful, and it was good to have someone who knew and understood, to talk to,” Watson said.
Watson was “one of the lucky ones” who was diagnosed quickly and was able to see a specialist.
She has since had two surgeries that have helped with the pain, but the pain never really goes away, sometimes feeling “like a knife stabbing her, twisting, then just staying there”, she said.
Her mission now is to raise awareness of endometriosis and normalise talking about menstrual problems.
She has teamed up with Endometriosis New Zealand and will be raising money to help cover costs for people accessing support, specifically for the helpline.
“I like helping people and I feel like sharing my experience could help. Awareness is most important.”
For her 21st birthday, Watson kayaked 100km on the Avon River in Christchurch to raise funds for Endometriosis New Zealand, raising $4300.
She hopes to raise $10,000 by the time she finishes her last leg of the 650km slog, which will finish on her 23rd birthday.
The information and language used throughout the news article does not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Endometriosis New Zealand.