It took almost three decades, but Prince George resident Charlene McCullough finally knows what it feels like to not wake up in pain. By the time she reached her 40s, she had almost become accustomed to the nagging abdominal pain that had been with her since puberty.
In 2019, the pain started to spread and intensify. What began as hip pain in January, spread to the point where she couldn’t feel her feet by the summer. By September came kidney pain and then in October, it had spread to her stomach.
“It was really scary,” said Charlene. “Something was clearly wrong and it was getting worse.”
Doctors in Prince George initially tried to treat the pain with physiotherapy. As the pain progressed, they booked Charlene for an MRI.
Then came the first clue as to why she had been experiencing pain since her teens doctors noticed her kidney wasn’t working. More tests and another MRI revealed something much more sinister: there was a large mass that had taken over her kidney, ovaries and spine.
“They did a biopsy and the mystery only deepened,” said Charlene. “Thankfully, the results came back as benign, but it felt like I was back to square one in searching for a cause.”
Her care team sent her to Vancouver for further tests. Then finally came the answer it was an extreme case of endometriosis, a common condition that affects up to 15 per cent of reproductive age women.
Rosemary needed urgent medical intervention, and help to fight for her life.