Why Corinne Foxx Had to Advocate for Her Own Endometriosis Surgery
"I was told by so many doctors that I was making it up in my head."
Sundays are a day to recharge and reset by hanging with friends, turning off your phone, bathing for hours on end, or doing whatever else works for you. In this column (in conjunction with our Instagram Self-Care Sunday series), we ask editors, experts, influencers, writers, and more what a perfect self-care Sunday means to them, from tending to their mental and physical health to connecting with their community to indulging in personal joys. We want to know why Sundays are important and how people enjoy them, from morning to night.
At only 27, Corinne Foxx already has a handful of businesses underneath her belt. In 2017, she launched her own lifestyle website and online marketplace, Foxxtales; in 2020, she co-launched the podcast Am I Doing This Right?; and currently, she's the co-host and deejay of the FOX show Beat Shazam and the executive producer of Netflix's Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!, which her dad, Jamie Foxx appears and executive produces. But behind-the-scenes, Foxx has been simultaneously navigating another part of her life: her endometriosis, which she had since 2016.
It wasn't until 2018 when Foxx first felt a sense of hope about her condition, due to getting what she calls "the gold standard for endometriosis treatment", aka laparoscopic surgery, the removal of endometriosis scarring and lesions.
"That was the moment in which I realized I wasn't going to live in chronic pain anymore," Foxx tells HelloGiggles. But getting the treatment in the first place wasn't easy, as she had to fight strongly for herself just to be considered. "I was told by so many doctors that I was making it up in my head, that it wasn't real, or that it was something it wasn't, like bladder cancer," Foxx recalls. "I advocated for myself and said, 'No, you're wrong.' Something is wrong with me. I feel like that was a really big turning point."
Since the surgery, Foxx says she has felt "1000 times better"—and has used the experience of learning to advocate for herself in her career, too. "Being a producer, you have to speak up and you have to say, 'Hey, this is what I believe' and fight for certain things," she explains. "And I feel like I found my voice through advocating for myself for my endometriosis."
For this week's Self-Care Sunday, we sat down with Foxx to talk about her endometriosis, mental health, and what she wishes doctors would do differently when treating endometriosis patients.
HelloGiggles (HG): How has your relationship with endometriosis impacted your mental health?
Corinne Foxx (CF): I'm an ambassador for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and for the Endometriosis Foundation of America, and so I really believe there is a connection between your mental health and being in physical pain for a long time. There are a lot of women who suffer from PTSD from going to so many doctors, getting probed, having to just see so many different people, and being told no.
A lot of women have been told they've had endometriosis in very dramatic ways, including me. So I know there is a connection between chronic pain and mental health and feeling depressed and feeling debilitated and being anxious about when the pain is going to come back. And for me, I am someone who kind of takes my struggles and my pain and really turns them into power. And so I was like, "I'm not gonna live like this."
HG: What are some practices or regimens you'd suggest others with endometriosis do if their pain is becoming overwhelming? What has worked for you?
CF: I'm not a doctor and everyone's endometriosis is different. Some people need surgery; some women don't need surgeries. Some people have pain in different areas; endometriosis can grow in so many different places, too.
But I will say for me, the biggest thing that helped me was surgery. I know that's not available to everyone. It's not [always] covered by insurance. So that's a whole other topic. But I know that CBD suppositories helped a lot of my friends, and heating pads.
Honestly, the biggest thing for me was giving myself the time to rest. And I'm someone who's go, go go. But when I was in pain, I was like, I have to rest because I'm only gonna feel worse.
HG: What form of care do you believe the endometriosis community needs at this time?
CF: I would love for more doctors, especially OB-GYNs, to be aware of the signs and symptoms of endometriosis so that women can get diagnosed faster. It often takes 10 years for a woman to get diagnosed with endometriosis after the onset of their symptoms, which is absolutely insane.
But I think in terms of my own personal journey, and where I've found comfort, is a lot of these online groups for women who have endometriosis. I'll jump right into a group and say, "Hey, today's a bad endo day. Can I just get some words of encouragement?" And the women will respond and [provide] validation that you're not alone because it feels so isolating to be in so much pain. And I've teared up and cried just reading the comments of other women who I don't know and have encouraged me to just get through the day.
There's Nancy's Nook on Facebook. It's actually pretty renowned and provides a lot of information about endometriosis. Obviously, the Endometriosis Foundation of America also has a lot of resources on its website. But there are a few other Facebook groups that I've joined just to have a larger community of endo warriors.
HG: Are there any products you've been gravitating toward lately for endometriosis self-care?
CF: So I've really enjoyed coloring books. I feel like those were really popular in quarantine. And so I have a few coloring books that I like and I will do when I'm feeling anxious or just want a distraction or something.
Then there are these things called the Wobbles and you can get them on Etsy and they teach you how to knit—it's super cool. You make these little action figure things. These are not action figures, though, they're like little teddy bears. They're really cool and it's been a fun thing to do.
For me, in terms of self-care, though, I just got one of those like red light masks.
HG: How do you think self-care looks different for someone with endometriosis?
CF: I think for someone with endometriosis, self-care is really about listening to your body because your body will start to tell you when it needs to rest. And I think, at least from my experience, I've really struggled with allowing myself the time to heal. So I feel that advocating for yourself at your doctor's office is also about advocating for yourself at home and being like, "Hey, I have to take it slow."
I think self-care is just such an important part of endo or your journey. I think it's hard to really overcome the pain without taking it slow.