Health Check: Woman starts foundation to call attention to disorder

Jennifer Zanni

Jennifer Zanni is a young woman who hopes to have children one day.

Unfortunately, she has a condition that not only makes that more difficult, but one that causes chronic pain that can be excruciating at times.

"They told me I had endometriosis," Zanni said.

That was three years ago, after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst inside her ovary.

"And I asked my mom if I had cancer because I had never heard of it. I didn't know what it was," Zanni said.

She looked it up online. She found the definition.

"It's actually the endometrium lining in the uterus that sheds during your cycle that somehow is misplaced," Zanni said.

Complications can include cysts and painful adhesions and scarring -- and infertility.

"In the beginning, I didn't want to talk about it because I felt that I was broken and I didn't want people to know I was in pain and couldn't possibly have children and that was a big struggle for me," Zanni said.

But then she realized she was far from alone and that so many others were suffering in silence. Last fall, Zanni started the Endometriosis Foundation of Rhode Island.

"My hope is to bring as much awareness to the disease as possible," Zanni said.

She said she plans on raising that awareness with a beacon of light.

"You see the State House lit all the time, different colors," Zanni said.

All this week, through next Monday, the Rhode Island State House will be lit yellow. So when you see that, Zanni said she's hoping you'll think endometriosis.

It is not an easy condition to diagnose, so she wants you to know the symptoms, which include disabling and very painful menstrual cramps and chronic lower back or abdominal pain.