Endo Warrior Spotlight: Camellia Hartman
This month, we’ve teamed up with the Endometriosis Foundation of America to spotlight three incredible women with Endometriosis. We gifted these Endo Warriors with Dear Kate products to help them on their journey and they shared their experiences with us.
Tell us a little about your experience with Endo.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis at age 21, which, when I finally heard it uttered by a doctor, came as a huge relief. For eight years, I had been battling, struggling, arguing with doctors, family, and friends about my menstrual symptoms, which I innately knew were not on the same plane as most women in my life. The most glaring symptom for me was the uncontrollable vomiting that I endured every month. Every month I lost a day, often two or three, to this sickness that took over my body. I always knew something was wrong inside, and I never stopped doing my own research and pursuing alternative forms of healing and treatment (herbs, teas, creams, acupuncture, you name it) – it just took being hospitalized (after some kind of pain-induced panic episode that rendered my hands and face paralyzed) to make everyone else in my life understand the scope of what I was dealing with. I was lucky enough to have surgery later that same year (which came with many of its own hurdles), but while my symptoms have improved post-surgery, I still live in fear of this disorder which I know has the power to totally uproot my life.
How does having a community of fellow Endo Warriors help with your journey?
As soon as I was able to name my condition, I started to discover that all these women in my life, who I formerly knew had struggled with mysterious reproductive/”feminine” issues, were also, as we now say, Endo Warriors. I prefer the term “Endo Sisters” because talking to these women about their experiences, hearing them use the very same language and phrases to describe their pain, like they could read my mind, it really does feel like finding long-lost sisters. I cry every single time a celebrity or public figure speaks publicly about endometriosis, even if I’m not a fan myself – because every single time, the words and sentiments are so familiar. Endo obviously takes on many different forms across all types of bodies, so I don’t mean to equate every woman’s experience — but we all deal with the frustration of feeling voiceless while living with an invisible disease, which is why it’s so so important to start these conversations and open them up to our communities, beyond the Endo sisterhood.
What is your standard period routine (do you use tampons, pads, cup, etc.) and how do period undies enhance it?
About two years ago I made the life-changing switch from tampons to Diva Cup…I am SO much happier with the sustainable element and the fact that I only have to think about one handy dandy little tool when That Time Of The Month arrives. However, there is still the issue of my very heavy flow, which is quite common for women with endometriosis. The cup can be emptied anytime, but, well…let’s just say, it’s not always the smoothest or cleanest process. I had always wanted to try period undies because I felt like it would just add a level of comfort and security – which is exactly how it felt when I finally tried my Dear Kates! It was a huge relief in the first few days to know that the undies could catch what I couldn’t monitor too closely while at work, for example. I had grown so accustomed to staining my underwear, it was a shock and a relief to realize that now I don’t have to worry about that (or an odor). I felt comfortable enough to trust that I could also wear them on the last day of my period without even using the cup – no problem at all!
How do you like wearing our period undies?
I really truly love them. I feel like I’m finally part of this revolutionary women’s club, like we finally fixed a broken system. So many of my friends have a separate section of their underwear collection reserved for their periods – ya know, the old ones, the already stained ones, sometimes ripped. I’m so excited to upgrade to period undies, which are first of all so cute and fit so well, and obviously provide much needed protection for the time of the month when we already feel most vulnerable.
What does it mean to you to have Dear Kate’s comfortable and confident period protection now?
As a woman living with endometriosis, let me tell you, we have enough to worry about when we’re on our periods. Just knowing that there is now one less thing to worry about when I am quite literally just trying to make it through a normal day, well, it’s game-changing. Beyond the fear of leaks, and the more general fear of some form of bodily shut down, my self-confidence also plummets. It might sound novel, but just being able to look in the mirror and see some cute stylish undies when the rest of my body feels so compromised is a huge bonus.
Would you recommend DK to fellow Endo Warriors? If so, why?
Definitely! When I switched to the Diva Cup, I was quick to share how much easier it made my life not having to worry about grabbing enough tampons to get through the day. The Dear Kate period undies bring me one step closer to comfort, and I wish the same for all the bleeding women in my life. Periods are so much work – for the body, mind, and spirit. I feel very lucky to be living in a time where industries across the board are finally listening to women, and providing innovative resources to helping us live our best lives.