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Beautiful new photos show the power of women living with endometriosis

It took Megan Cope almost four years to be diagnosed with endometriosis, and following surgery for the condition she struggled to feel confident in her body – until she picked up a camera and started taking photographs. Having spent the last year photographing women with endometriosis after their own surgeries, she shares her story, and the powerful images she has taken, below.

I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2017, after three to four years of struggling with heavy and painful periods. For years the doctors told me I was constipated, which obviously wasn’t the case. 

One week, I had an ambulance out to see me four times and had to be given morphine just to get me down the stairs. After this, medical professionals finally started to take my pain seriously, and I was given an emergency diagnostic laparoscopy which eventually gave me the diagnosis.

My photography project started just after I was diagnosed, because I wanted to photograph my body after surgery to document the process. I then decided I wanted to start photographing other women with the condition in September 2019 after I had a second laparoscopy.

Endometriosis has seemingly taken over my life, with constant days of pain where I am unable to get myself out of bed. One of the hardest things I’ve faced so far is having to juggle work, education and trying to have a social life. 

Due to the chronic illness, I’ve lost jobs, cancelled more plans that I can count and struggled when it comes to completing university work. 

After being diagnosed, I was relieved to know the cause of my pain; however, I was worried about the impact the condition would have on the rest of my life. I’ve just had an MRI to see if the endometriosis has reappeared on my bladder, so I’m waiting for those results. My mum has struggled with endometriosis for over 20 years now, so we always knew there was the possibility that I’d have it, too. Having seen how much endometriosis has affected my mum’s life, I was conscious that this would limit me and hold me back.

I knew that endometriosis affected other women, too, so I wanted my photography project to do something to help them. It’s called More Than Endo and its aim to help other women to feel body confident after surgery and during episodes of bloating, which is a common symptom of the condition.

I contacted a Manchester support group for the charity Endometriosis UK on Facebook, and asked if any women would be willing to be photographed to raise awareness and promote body confidence within endometriosis. I was only expecting a couple of replies but to my surprise I was contacted by over 75 women who really wanted to be a part of the project.

The feedback so far has been unbelievably supportive and positive. No matter the outcome of this series, I am extremely happy with the work I’ve produced. Every person I have photographed, including myself, has left the shoot feeling beautiful and loving the images – which is all I wanted. 

In my opinion, the most amazing thing to have come from this project is the women I’ve met. Each and every one of them was amazing, and the shoot felt like more of a friendly chat than anything else. 

It was brilliant to be able to talk to women that were going through the same issues as me, but discuss them in a positive way. Without every single woman that took part, this project would not have been able to happen.

I’m currently looking for somewhere to exhibit my work, such as in a local hospital or gynaecology ward. I want the photos to raise awareness of endometriosis, but I also want to show newly diagnosed women that the condition isn’t something to be afraid of – and that there are so many women going through similar experiences and it hasn’t stopped them from living their lives. I’ve also started to create a magazine which will contain medical information, advice and contact information for support groups and so on, which will be accompanied by personal stories and photographs from the shoots.

The project is ongoing, and I’m still in the process of photographing women, and hearing their stories. I’m so proud that More Than Endo has given women the chance to really show off their battle scars, and fall back in love with their bodies for good.

All images courtesy of Megan Cope

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