In 2008, country singer, professional dancer, and actress Julianne Hough revealed that she suffers from endometriosis. Almost 10 years later, she is teaming up with AbbVie in a campaign called Get in the Know About ME in EndoMEtriosis.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Hough opened up about living with the disorder, how she manages the pain, and her new campaign.
"When I was 15, I had symptoms of endometriosis, but I had never heard of it, didn’t know what it was," she said. "I thought that this was just the kind of pain you have when you’re on your period. For years, for I was just thinking that was normal and never really talked about it."
In 2008, when she was 20 years old, she was rushed to the hospital after coming off the Dancing With The Stars stage in extreme pain. "It felt like a knife was being stabbed in me," she recalled.
Doctors discovered she had a cyst on her ovary and massive amounts of scar tissue outside of her uterus, which is when the they diagnosed her with endometriosis. The scar tissue also spread to her appendix, right hip, bladder, and fallopian tubes forcing surgery to remove her appendix and the cyst. The scar tissue was also lasered off in the two hour surgery.
Although her recovery was more painful than expected, Hough was relieved that she could now "put a name to the pain and know there were treatments".
The Get in the Know About Me in EndoMEtriosis campaign is meant to educate women and spread awareness.
"This campaign is about getting in the know and starting a conversation. Just having awareness and open conversation about this is so important. I don’t care about being private about this anymore because I really want the women that are going through debilitating pain to benefit from my story or this campaign," she said.
She reveals that she does go through painful episodes still, but she doesn't let her endometriosis, which has no cure, alter her healthy and active lifestyle. She just has learned to listen to her body, which is extremely difficult for the two-time mirrorball champ.
“That was so hard for me mentally because I have that dancer, athlete mentality of, ‘I cannot quit, I have to keep going’, ” she says. “I have a tolerance for pain, I’m a tough cookie, so it was really hard for me to take a day off, but I needed it. I have to be kind to my body.”
Now, she has fiancé Brooks Laich to lean on for support when experiencing a painful episode. "He's amazing," she gushes.
To find out more about the Get In The Know About ME in EndoMEtriosis campaign, click here.
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