Tinevimbo T. Matambanadzo, also known as Tine Mataz, spent years searching for answers for her intense periods. Finally, a doctor took a loser look and diagnosed her with endometriosis. Despite debilitating pain, this 28-year-old Zimbabwe native who holds a cum laude graduate degree from the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Community and Health Psychology, is living her best life and thriving.
Mataz opened up to The Weight She Carries about her journey.
How and when did you discover that you had endometriosis?
I started my menstruation at the very young age of 9. It was not anything I was worried about because I thought it was normal to start at any age since I am a girl.
At the age of 16, I started having side pains. Initially, the doctors told me I had kidney stones. I also started having panic attacks. My cycle then started to change. I used to journal my periods and I realized the days were now longer and it was now occurring more frequently. I went to our family doctor and he said it could be stress because I was writing my examinations, but it never went away.
Girls my age started isolating me because rumours started spreading that I had aborted a child.
After high school, it became worse. I would be on my period for a whole month. The doctor kept telling me that there was nothing wrong with me. I always had a fighting spirit that kept telling me that something was wrong with me. I then came across some information about endometriosis and I told my doctor about it. He said black girls don’t get endometriosis.
I went to South Africa in 2015 to see a doctor and that is when I was diagnosed with endometriosis. Unfortunately, it had already spread into my bladder and uterus. I started taking contraception and medication for endometriosis and was told I would be fine. I kept taking the medication, but nothing changed. It was discovered that endometriosis has no cure. I then found out that there is an endometriosis specialist and I went to see her. She is so amazing.
What are the symptoms?
Endometriosis can mimic cancer, though the tumours are non-cancerous. It has the following symptoms:
- Painful periods, which are often debilitating,
- Severe pelvic cramping
- Heavy bleeding
- Painful bowel
- Urinary urgency and pain
- Pain during or after sex
- Breast pain
- Mood swings
- Periods lasting more than seven days
- Lower back pain
- Abdominal pain
- Coughing up blood
- Digestive system issues
- Constant fatigue
Are you in a relationship and how does your man take it? And how does your family take it?
I am in a relationship and we have been together for nine years now. It has been challenging for my man, but he really has been supportive. He understands that sometimes I cannot do some things and he loves me regardless. My family also supports me so much through it all.
How do you manage your condition on a daily basis and what is your advice to other women?
I am living with stage four endometriosis. I manage the condition by motivating myself. I tell myself every day that it is okay not to be okay. I plan everything that I do – where to go, what to wear, what I am doing – and I try to avoid stress by all means.
Growing up I have been someone who loves working with the community. I am the founder of
- As I Am Foundation – a community development organisation
- Sexual Abuse Anonymous Zimbabwe
- The Endometriosis Support Group.
I am an Obama Foundation African leader, Global Peace ambassador and a Cherie Blair Foundation Fellow.
I am an author as well. I wrote a book in 2018 called Turning Pain into Power: The Journey of an Endometriosis Warrior. The foreword of the book was written by the Center for Endometriosis Care, the world’s best treatment centre for endometriosis.
I do so many things in pain, but I try by all means not to show the pain to the people. I am a very strong woman and I found my calling in helping people in the community, including helping ladies suffering from endometriosis.
I meet up with so many ladies who have endometriosis and one of them is Wendy Sibanda in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
I talk to women almost every day encouraging them to hold on and keep fighting because I believe God made everything for a purpose. Endometriosis is one of the most excruciating illnesses, yet many people have never heard of it.