Chadderton charity champion woos international audience of medics

Date published: 16 September 2023

Medical students from Dubai to Mumbai were moved to tears by a young Chadderton woman who endured a near decade-long battle to get her endometriosis diagnosed - because doctors refused to believe she was old enough to have it.

Carrying a stick and in clear emotional and physical anguish, Courtney Ormrod told second year would-be doctors at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) that other medics had, “told me the pain was all in my head, before dismissing me with some painkillers and anti-depressants”.

Backing her from the podium at an event also attended by consultants, surgeons, and members of the public, was her father, retired fireman Paul.

He added: “Some of the doctors we saw were smug, arrogant and even callous.”

So moved was Dr Anita Sharma by Courtney’s plight that she created the Endometriosis Awareness North charity over a year ago, who were the main speakers at an event to explore inequalities in women’s health.

She told guests: “Endometriosis affects one in ten women of childbearing age.

"It is a serious condition and 82% of women who have it are unable to work.

"Yet despite all of this, just 20% of people have actually heard of it and there are very few funds put into research.

"Would this happen if the condition affected males? I doubt it.”

Dr Sharma fielded questions from the auditorium and online about issues such as how bosses cater for those with endometriosis and just why women have to endure such an agonising wait for a proper diagnosis.

Another fascinating perspective came from Endometriosis Awareness North volunteer, Mrs Margaret Heywood.

She said: “When I was at school we had never even heard of the word “endometriosis”.

"We knew girls who were off every month but just thought it was their natural cycle and accepted it as normal.

"What if my mother had had it? We just wouldn’t have known.”

Margaret, who lives in South Chadderton, is about to take some awareness-raising sessions to local schools across Oldham, Bury and Rochdale.

That tactic was endorsed by Najma Khalid MBE, who has taken crucial medical messages out to the BAME community at community centres and places of worship.

The founder of the CHAI (Care, Health, Inspire) charity said: “Our aims are to help learn how to engage our communities, prevent health problems, keep people active and remind everyone in Oldham that health is their business.”

CHAI now runs Bollywood and self-defence classes and has been responsible for disseminating messages around type 2 diabetes, cervical cancer and of course endometriosis, to hundreds of hard-to-reach women.

Dr Sharma added: “Three quarters of women feel health services do not listen to them. It begins with the design of campaigns and initiatives and, for example, might involve the extension of online appointments when women ask to see a doctor face-to-face.

"We want our entire community to be healthy and that fight starts today - here and now. Will you join us?”

Learn more about Endometriosis Awareness North by clicking here

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