Two members of staff from Coleg Llandrillo recently joined a march in support of women who suffer from a painful condition which takes an average of seven-and-a-half years to diagnose, and is thought to affect 1.5 million women in the UK alone!

Tutors Llinos Blackwell and Ben King were among the 120 people on Llandudno promenade supporting women with endometriosis…known as endo warriors! The awareness-raising event, which was the first of its kind in North Wales, highlighted the debilitating disease which is thought to affect one in 10 women and girls worldwide.

It can cause pain and fertility issues and lead to depression. There is currently no cure, and according to the NHS, treatments to ease symptoms include using painkillers, hormone medicines and contraceptives.

Llinos Blackwell from Rhyl, who is based at the college's Rhos-on-Sea campus where she teaches German and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), struggled with pain and chronic fatigue due to endometriosis. Llinos did not see a GP about her pain and chronic fatigue until she was 26, and it then took three years to be diagnosed.

She said:

It was actually the fatigue that I suffered which was the worst part, and it still affects me now. It just seems there's no end in sight because the waiting lists for surgery are so long. It affects your work, relationships and friendships.

Llinos had surgery in April 2016, and said it was "not a cure but treatment". She commented:

I still feel the endometriosis is there and I have some symptoms, however compared to before the surgery, it's much, much better. But that treatment is not available across the board.

She had to go to a hospital in Merseyside as there is not an endometriosis specialist in North Wales - the only three in Wales are based in the south.

Having just three specialists is woefully inadequate,

she added.

We want to raise awareness and make endometriosis part of everyone's vocabulary but we also desperately want better treatment for the women of Wales and more specialists.

Rhyl College-based Ben King, who is a vehicle body repair workshop supervisor/instructor, dressed up as a dragon and joined the march in support of his long-suffering wife Emma.

He said:

Endometriosis is an awful disease. It has robbed my wife of so much. She has had to fight every step of the way for proper treatment and sadly this has now been further complicated by a recent diagnosis of endometriosis now growing in her liver, lung and diaphragm.

She is lucky enough to have found the group Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales (FTWW), which organised the march.