Gabriela Herstik
April 04, 2017 4:46 pm
Jim Spellman/ Getty

There’s a misconception that chronic disease is always visible, but sadly, that’s not the case. Endometriosis is one of these diseases that’s invisible to the unknowing eye. With 200,000 cases in the U.S. per year, according to the Mayo Clinic, this diseases affects the tissue that’s supposed to line the uterus but instead grows outside of the organ. It’s painful, chronic and affects more than 6.3 million women and girls in the US alone. Actress Lena Dunham has endometriosis and just opened up about her experience and feelings after her last surgery. After five surgeries and plenty of holistic healing methods to accompany them, Lena can officially say she is disease-free. Not only does this mean that Lena no longer has to live with endometriosis, but this also means she doesn’t have to live with pain.

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But this isn’t as easy as it sounds. In this week’s Lenny Letter, Lena explained that she lived with pain for so long that it defined her.

In the letter she goes on to say,

“My pain — physical — distracted from my deeper pain — emotional, spiritual — and became the ultimate excuse,” she wrote. “I had two modes: working and hurting. I was convinced there was nobility in it. There was certainly routine.”

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And now that she no longer has to live with this pain, although there is a possibility that the endometriosis will come back, she’s learning to redefine the things that make her strong. The most noble part about it is that she’s using her experience and privilege of having such good medical care to help raise awareness about the disease. All in a days work for Lena!

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