Tanzanian supermodel Millen Happiness Magese recalls getting her very first period and being rushed to the hospital with crippling cramps. “I was [hospitalized] for three days. Can you imagine? My first period was that crazy.” For every period that followed, she often bled heavily for seven days a month. Her family and friends felt helpless as Magese suffered the same horrific pains every month. Finally, at the age of 26, a South African doctor performed an ablation and diagnosed her with Stage IV Endometriosis. Many more ablations would follow, 11 in all, and a laparotomy, and still the procedures didn’t save her from more than a decade more of cramps that sent her to the emergency room.
Thankfully for Magese, relief finally came in 2013 when the then 35-year-old model discovered endometriosis excision specialist Dr. Tamer Seckin. “Dr. Seckin is very straightforward, but also very passionate, and he looked at me and said, ‘Let’s sit down,” says Magese. “My back was bad. Depression was hitting. It was so frustrating. I said, ‘Doctor, whatever that you think is great for me to do, I’m going for it.'” Magese scheduled surgery with Seckin—and the procedure lasted nearly six hours. What did he discover? “My organs were really attached to each other,” says Magese. Seckin also alerted her to fertility problems. He said, “One ovary is not strong anymore. One ovary shrank because it had all these adhesions and also these big cysts. He said to my partner, ‘She is really a strong person,’ and ‘I hope she finds relief.'”
After her excision surgery, Magese says she immediately noticed a difference. “Through Dr. Seckin, I felt great.”
Magese says her fertility-sparing surgery was a reality check. She set off on her quest to become a mother and started rounds of IVF with a fertility specialist. Magese’s persistence paid off. In July, she gave birth to a son and named him Prince Kairo. His name appropriately means “Victorious One” in Arabic, and Magese feels it sums up her endometriosis journey perfectly.
“I don’t believe he’s mine. I look at him and say, ‘You saved my life,’” adds Magese. Even holding the 9-month-old boy in her arms today, she still finds herself crying tears of gratitude and joy. “My son is my world.”
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