Portsmouth woman with debilitating endometriosis 'desperate' for surgery

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A PORTSMOUTH woman who battled an undiagnosed debilitating condition for almost 20 years is now ‘desperate’ to undergo life-changing surgery after her appointments were cancelled five times in a row.

Xanthe Cahill, from Hilsea, has been suffering from endometriosis since she was at least 13 - resulting in her having to miss days from school, college and then work due to heavy periods, pain and eventually mobility issues.

Having finally been diagnosed with stage four (severe) endometriosis two years ago the 30-year-old believed things would finally get better, however, an initial surgery to assess her condition left her unable to walk properly.

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More than 36,000 people waiting for routine treatments and operations in Portsmo...
Ms Cahill is pictured in Hilsea with her partner Michael Hulligan 
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 210621-15)Ms Cahill is pictured in Hilsea with her partner Michael Hulligan 
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 210621-15)
Ms Cahill is pictured in Hilsea with her partner Michael Hulligan Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 210621-15)

She said: ‘For years and years when I went to the doctor I was just told to go on contraception to regulate my heavy and painful periods, so I was on the pill at 14 years old. I tried every type of pill and had the implant in my arm.

‘I started to get answers when the doctor said I should try the copper coil in 2018. The pain was excruciating for eight days and my neighbour had to take me to A&E.

‘They found cysts on the ovaries so I then had surgery to find out what was going on. It was this surgery that has given me real problems with walking.

‘When I was finally diagnosed in June 2019 it was a “wow” moment where I felt absolutely justified. I just knew there was something wrong.’

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Xanthe Cahill, 30.
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 210621-20)Xanthe Cahill, 30.
Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 210621-20)
Xanthe Cahill, 30. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 210621-20)

But now Xanthe, who had been working in mental health support but is currently unable to work, is at ‘breaking point’ after her essential endometriosis removal and bowel resection surgery at Queen Alexandra Hospital have been rescheduled six times since January this year.

‘When Covid happened I accepted there was going to be a delay,’ she said.

‘I am an NHS worker myself so I know how much strain this put on services.

‘I was given my first appointment for surgery at QA Hospital in January, this then got rescheduled twice to June 7.

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‘I got as far as doing all the surgery prep for a week and even came into hospital only for it to be cancelled that day.

‘It’s since been rescheduled for the 21st, the 28th and then July 5. But part of me believes it’s going to be cancelled again.’

Xanthe, along with her partner Michael Hulligan, has set up a Go Fund Me page to pay for either private surgery if her appointment is cancelled again or to aid her recovery and pay for fertility treatment in the future.

It comes as recent data showed record numbers of patients - more than 36,653 - were waiting for treatments at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU) at the end March this year.

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When asked about Xanthe’s situation a spokeswoman for PHU said: ‘The safety of our patients and staff remains a top priority.

‘We have plans in place including additional diagnostic capacity and are prioritising patients based on clinical need, to make sure our most urgent patients are seen first. All areas are currently seeing an increase in referrals and when a patient requires complex care it can cause further delays.

‘We understand how frustrating and upsetting this can be for our patients and we are working hard to get people treated as soon as possible.’

Endometriosis causes endometrial tissue that lines the uterus to spread outside of the uterus and implant in places like the fallopian tubes, ovaries and other organs.

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It is thought one in 10 women have endometriosis but it takes doctors between three and 11 years to diagnose.

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