Chronic illness won’t stand in her way

Melissa McInerney moved to Australia in 2013 from a small town in Tipperary, Ireland. She began her studies in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) in 2020, while fighting a personal battle with Endometriosis.

This is her story.

I had my first laparoscopic surgery in Ireland when I was 15, there was no findings during the surgery. They removed my appendix, and I was told it was pretty much just growing pains and it was likely to just be IBS.

Although I always had on and off pain since the age of 15, it only really started to deteriorate in 2017 (23 years old), when emergency visits became more frequent. Until then I was told ‘you must have a low tolerance to pain, every woman has these pains’. 

June 2019, I was in emergency (again) and a female doctor asked me if I was ever investigated for endometriosis? It was the first time I ever even heard the word.

My first surgery was in February 2020. I thought this was the start of a new beginning and I applied for a place at CQUni to further my studies in OHS.

After surgery, I was still having the same pain complaints.

I changed GP and was referred for a second opinion. I was back under the knife in July 2020. I had just started uni. More endo was found in my pelvic area and was removed through excision surgery. I was also diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome).

Now I look back, there were signs. Unfortunately, I did not know the common symptoms of Endometriosis, so it was never on my radar to ask about.

My social media is filled with images of me in places all over the world and I just want to remind people that I was sharing my good times; things I was proud of achieving. That one photo probably took 30 seconds to take, I do not show the 8 hours from the day before where I am curled up in bed with a heat pack, crying in pain.

While I still have bad days, I like to think I am optimistic about it majority of the time. I genuinely try to be positive and do things that make me feel good. What will feeling sorry for myself achieve?

My goal is to raise awareness about Endometriosis and break down the stigma that surrounds women’s health. I aspire to be a real-life example to other women that you can still achieve your career goals while dealing with a chronic illness.

Written by Melissa McInerney.

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis is a common disease in which the tissue that is similar to the lining of the womb grows outside it in other parts of the body. To learn more, visit

One thought on “Chronic illness won’t stand in her way

  1. That’s great that you shared your story!
    My classmate and also my best friend suffers from chronic pain – intercostal neuralgia, if I’m saying it right. And she is doing wonderfully and inspires me and everyone around her with how strong she is. We did a project together about it: – based on this piece. And her experience was a good practical part of the presentation.
    For me you’re inspirational too, keep it up!

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