Endometriosis New Zealand (ENZ) connected with Harriet in 2019, when she and her mum called the ENZ helpline ‘Endo Help’, after years of suffering with painful periods and other debilitating symptoms that greatly affected Harriet’s quality of life.
Harriet had abnormal periods for years and suffered from pelvic pain so severe she would lie on the floor in a ball trying to stop the stabbing pains in her pelvis. Harriet and her mum tried many techniques to mitigate her discomfort and felt it worked for a short time, but it became apparent there was an underlying cause.
Not too long after reaching out to ENZ and receiving helpful information and support, Harriet had diagnostic surgery to confirm she was one of the 120,000 New Zealanders and 170 million people worldwide that suffer with endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a common inflammatory disease estimated to affect 1 in 10 women, girls and those assigned females at birth. ENZ is Aotearoa’s national organisation for support and information on endometriosis, helping people to understand the condition and empowering those living with endometriosis to take control of their condition and feel heard.
Harriet reached out to ENZ the following year in 2020, having set herself a goal of kayaking 100km in 1 day and fundraising for the organisation that helped her to navigate her endometriosis journey. She fundraised a staggering $4,305 dollars for ENZ.
Now, in 2022 she has reached out again, this time, with an even greater challenge in mind, but the goal remains the same – to fundraise and raise awareness for endometriosis sufferers across Aotearoa.
From the 2nd December- 9th December, Harriet will run and bike 650km from Farwell Spit to Ross, the equivalent of the distance from Auckland to Wellington.
“This project scares the living daylights out of me, but that is exactly what motivates me. I want other sufferers to receive support from ENZ and have an Endo Help appointment like I did” says Harriet.
Key findings from a recent research study on the impact and diagnostic delay for endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain sufferers showed that endometriosis is a serious health issue deeply affecting the quality of life for so many. Running was an unexpected tool Harriet found to ease the intense pain she can feel on a nearly daily basis.
ANZCO foods, Coffee Culture, Cycle Journeys and Merrell, have kindly sponsored Harriet for her challenge, to support some of the costs involved in undertaking the eight day challenge.
“I am so thankful for their support which enables me to fundraise for ENZ’s Endo Help service; the service that helped me receive a diagnosis and offers 1 on 1 phone and email support. $50 could mean a potentially life changing call for an endometriosis sufferer” says Harriet.
The significant lack of information and education on endometriosis, means many sufferers have difficulty accessing treatment and managing their symptoms. Endo Help appointments offer a safe environment for people to get information, advice and support.
“We are so grateful to Harriet for her decision to fundraise for ENZ and take on this incredible feat. Her dedication to complete this endurance challenge whilst living with endometriosis will be inspiring for so many New Zealanders suffering with the same condition,” says ENZ CEO, Tanya Cooke.
“ENZ receives no government funding, and therefore we rely on our generous members of our community, like Harriet, to continue our important work, which includes endometriosis education, support, research and advocacy,” she says.
Harriet hopes to raise $10,000 upon completion of her challenge on the 9th December, which coincides with her 23rd birthday.
“My motivation is knowing that funds raised for ENZ and awareness of the condition, will enable more people to feel supported, and to break through the barriers of Endo – developing mindsets to turn Endo into their strength, like I have,” Harriet says.