A woman who has battled with endometriosis for 17 years is on a fundraising mission to prevent other women from suffering in silence.
With a series of initiatives starting tomorrow, it is not just money that Carrie Parkin is trying to raise.
She hopes to elevate endometriosis, which has ruled her life since the age of 13, into the spotlight in a bid to make people more aware of the relatively unknown condition which affects one in 10 women in the UK.
“It is a really misconceived condition which not a lot of people know about,” she said. “It takes eight years to be diagnosed.
“If I can just help one person get diagnosed, then I will be really happy.”
With symptoms such as chronic fatigue, pain and internal bleeding, the condition causes cells – like the ones in the lining of the womb – to grow elsewhere in the body.
These cells react to the menstrual cycle each month and also bleed but there is no way for the blood to leave the body.
The result can be devastating with links to depression, isolation and, in some cases, infertility.
After years of pain, misdiagnosis and two laparoscopies, last year Carrie finally received the news she had always known.
“When I was diagnosed, it was just a weight off my mind,” said the 32-year-old from Great Waldingfield.
“You do think: ‘Am I making it up? Am I crazy?’
“When someone says you have got it, you think: ‘Thank god I’m not nuts.’”
She underwent surgery in September and can now manage the symptoms with neuropathic pain relief.
But without a cure, the condition is always present with searing pain acting as a daily reminder.
“I think you just get used to the pain – which is horrible – but you do,” she said.
“Sometimes, I’m just the grumpiest woman on the planet.”
With two daughters and two step-daughters, Carrie said her husband, Nigel, whom she married in August last year, has been a huge support.
As a self-employed wellbeing consultant, Carrie does not have to explain her condition to an employer, but she said a lack of understanding in the workplace can be a big worry for many sufferers.
She is urging other women with similar symptoms to get checked out.
“I would say to always push for more investigation and not to be fobbed off,” she said. “I have learnt that I know my body.”