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Lynda Rae Campbell was a positive, hard-working woman who loved animals, traveling, and her family and friends. A Dalhousie University alum, she spent decades working as a speech language pathologist with the Nova Scotia Speech and Hearing Clinic and as a manager in the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness. She also worked in health-related organizations in Cameroon, Botswana, Trinidad and Tobago, and in The Bahamas where she was the Pan-American Health Organization (WHO) Representative.

Most of the time, you’d never know Lynda was living with chronic abdominal pain, but there were times over the years that she could be found curled up on the floor in acute agony. In October of 2021, at the age of 70, Lynda passed away from liver cancer, connected to her decades-long battle with endometriosis and abdominal pain.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a medical condition in which cells similar to the lining of the uterus grow outside the uterus, most commonly on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and surrounding tissues. Approximately 15 per cent of women of reproductive age suffer from chronic pelvic pain, causing a tremendous impact on quality of life.

Numerous trips to doctors and hospital stays in Lynda’s lifetime in an effort to solve her pain led to medications, misdiagnoses, surgery, and even a dismissal of her symptoms. Years were spent attempting to find out the cause of her pain and now, her husband, also a Dalhousie alum, Dr. Michael Herrick, is passionate about educating people about endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain, leading to better outcomes for those who experience it. “I would like to give a voice to women like my wife,” says Dr. Herrick. “I hope to change the perception of endometriosis and pelvic pain. Excruciating pain is not normal, although many women are told it is normal.”

Globally, there isn’t enough research about pelvic pain and endometriosis. To improve our understanding of these health issues, including how to better diagnose, treat, and develop improved outcomes for those suffering, more data and research are needed. And now, through Dr. Herrick’s generosity, philanthropy is making it possible for us to better understand this under-researched area. “I could never alleviate that pain,” he says, “but I want to be part of the solution.”

"Endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain are associated with significant health care costs due to physician and emergency department visits, medications, surgeries, and hospital admissions,” says Dr. Elizabeth Randle. Along with Dr. Allana Munroe, Dr. Randle is the medical co-lead for the Endometriosis and Chronic Pelvic Pain (CPP) Clinic at the IWK Health Centre—the first multidisciplinary endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain clinic in Atlantic Canada. It has been estimated that CPP is responsible for $1.8 billion in total annual costs in Canada, not to mention the personal costs to those suffering. Approximately 15 per cent of people of reproductive age in Canada suffer from CPP and this can have a tremendous impact on quality of life.

Supporting the treatment they deserve

Along with their team, Drs. Munroe and Randle are ready to take on this challenge. Their goal is to develop a robust database of this patient population that will drive research and create best practices in symptom management, risk factor identification, and treatment options. The data will educate physicians, like general practitioners, to better diagnose and refer patients with chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis to get the right treatments.

Mr. Herrick is inspired by Dr. Randle’s team and the work they are doing. “I’m very impressed by their capacity to solve this issue,” he says. “But they need funding, so that’s how I can contribute.” Dr. Herrick is committed to having impact in this area through funding the research that will inevitably help researchers and physicians provide women who are suffering with endometriosis and pelvic pain, with the relief and treatment they deserve. This philanthropic investment will both improve clinical care for women in pain today and establish the rich data set required for future research and discovery.

“We were married for 34 years,” says Dr. Herrick, “and we had a great life together. But we could’ve had longer, and she could’ve suffered less if we had known more about this affliction that so many women endure.”