As many of you may be aware, March is Endometriosis Awareness month. In an effort to increase education and awareness, especially of correct treatment and surgical options, and in an effort to put a positive light on Endometriosis in the media, some of us health bloggers will be encouraging you to write to local, state and national media. Jeanne from Jeanne’s Endo Blog needs to be commended for taking the innitiative to concieve of such a campaign. Thank you, Jeanne.
I’ve included an example of a recent letter I composed for Mariela Azcuy, the Senior Associate Direct of PR for the Meridith Corporation. It is best, when addressing a business orginazation, to stick to a business format in your correspondence. And try to keep it concise. Get your necessary facts in, but don’t make it boring. A boring letter will end up in the trash. You need to make the reader aware of the seriousness of your cause without over dramatizing it. And struggle as you may, it may not be the best idea to include long, drawn out, personal stories in an awareness letter. An awareness letter needs to focus on:
1) Your cause
2) Why this needs coverage
3) Relevant facts and figures pertaining to your cause
Journalists especially, and other media personel, are busy people. If you send them a multi-page document or email, they are likely to skim over it and toss it. Send them a nice, concise 1 page (2 pages at most) letter with facts and figures, and you’ll more than likely get a call back. Why? It’s easy to pull even a small piece from a 1-2 page letter if there are figures they can quote. With one simple 10-15 minute phone call to the letter’s author, they have an easy write up for their paper or magazine with little effort. I’ve done it before (once with a pamphlet from a city council meeting!).
As promised, here is the example of my letter to Mariala Azcuy. Please remember that my work on this blog is copyrighted. You may use this example as a reference, and I hope it inspires you.
Senior Associate Director of PR
Ladies’ Home Journal, More and Siempre Mujer Magazines
125 Park Ave, 17th Floor
Dear Ms. Azcuy:
I am writing on behalf of the 89 million women and young ladies who suffer daily from endometriosis. In North America it’s estimated that this number is 5.5 million strong and growing every year. Many of these women go undiagnosed for years and then once diagnosed are either under or improperly treated. And even worse, Ms. Azcuy, endometriosis sufferers are marked with a stigmata that haunts them, often before they are even officially diagnosed with the condition. Society views many of us as drug seekers, doctors withhold needed medication, and our co-workers and bosses see us as attention seekers.
But let me first commend your corporation for its in-depth coverage on chronic illnesses. While these illnesses do warrant a need for more press time, one chronic and often time debilitating illness is not getting it’s due coverage in the media – endometriosis. This past fall, television viewers received a mediocre education on endometriosis via the coverage given to Dancing with the Stars’ Julianne Hough and Lacey Schwimmer’s diagnoses’.
The coverage by the media glossed over one vital fact in how endometriosis is diagnosed: the only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is to perform a laparoscopy. According to the Endometriosis Association, “diagnosis is considered uncertain until proven by laparoscopy, a minor surgical procedure done under anesthesia. A laparoscopy usually shows the location, size, and extent of the growths. This helps the doctor and patient makes better treatment choices.” The Endometriosis Research Center agrees: “Endometriosis can ONLY be diagnosed via surgery; diagnostic tests like MRIs and ultrasounds are not definitive.”
The scary fact is that there are doctors diagnosing patients not with “probable endometriosis” but with “definite endometriosis” based on nothing more than their symptoms. The diagnosis from one to the other allows the doctor to prescribe a whole host of potent medications; medications that should be reserved for women with confirmed endometriosis that doesn’t respond to lesser hormonal preparations. Yet, I have personally seen this happen with two women who have contacted me via my blog. They hadn’t even had a laparoscopy, so their doctor’s can’t even be sure they in fact do have endometriosis! It was believed that my own sister had endometriosis until a laparoscopy found her pelvis free of the disease. A pap smear, on the other hand, found the cause of her excessive bleeding: cervical cancer.
There are too many conditions that can mimic endometriosis – diverticulitis, infection, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, irritable bowel disease, STD’s, vaginitis, and even ectopic pregnancy. Would it be ethical to give anti-cancer drugs without first doing an MRI or a CT scan to look for a tumor? Yet, there are doctors subjecting women to the effects of menopause, severe migraines, moments of rage, and a decreased sex drive when an outpatient, surgical procedure can determine whether there is even a need for the medication!
As I hope you can see there is an urgent need for appropriate, in-depth media coverage on endometriosis. My fellow endometriosis and chronic health bloggers congratulate your corporation on the wonderful coverage you’ve given to the chronic illness community, now we implore that you do the same for the endometriosis community. Please help me and my fellow endometriosis bloggers to help the 89 million women and young ladies feel that the pain they feel is not in their minds, and that they are not alone. Help us to give endometriosis the voice it deserves in the media.
Endochick (Put your real name)
Blog: Endometriosis: The Silent Life Sentence