The Crippling Disease That Took Indianna From Cheerleader To Bedridden
"I'm no doctor, but I can't just sit here and watch my daughter crying and suffering every day."
Mark "Spud" Carroll is a well-known and outspoken rugby league personality who is used to making headlines because of his views.
Now, he wants to spearhead a national conversation that's entirely off the football field.
"My daughter said to me I would rather die than keep putting up with this pain, I went to bed, a 51-year-old man and just cried," Carroll told ten daily.
Carroll's 20-year-old daughter Indianna has endometriosis -- a disorder in which tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows outside the uterus -- it causes pain and in some cases infertility. It affects one in ten Australian women.
Indianna with her father Mark. IMAGE: Supplied.
Carroll's wife Monique also grappled with endometriosis for years, until she had a hysterectomy -- and had her uterus removed.
"One doctor recently recommended a hysterectomy for my daughter I nearly grabbed him by the throat, did he really think that's the right thing for a 20 year old?"
He said the illness is often misunderstood or disregarded as "just period pain."
There is no cure, but there are surgical and medicinal options to help minimise the pain. Carroll said his daughter has had little respite from the condition over the past three years.
"She's got no life. She cant' go out with her girlfriends. We've tried every pill, several surgeries, she's been to every doctor shes been like a medical pin doll with all the needles and tests," he said.
Indianna was bed-ridden for 14 weeks of senior high school.
"I now work in retail part time, that's all I can manage. I've been out of school a couple of years but I don't have the energy to take on studying with this debilitating pain but I really want to study," she told ten daily.
In addition to severe cramps, back pain and nausea, Indianna said she struggles to maintain her weight due to hormone imbalances.
"'Exercise is really painful for me and it increases the pain dramatically. I'm a cheerleader and I go through stages where I miss lots of games and other times I try and just tell myself to be strong and push through but then I no longer have energy to keep doing that," she said.
Her father has just become a 'mendochampion' - a man raising awareness about the women's health issue.
"I want to use my rough football head straight mouth and anyone I know to help raise money and find a solution," he said.
Donna Ciccia, CEO of Endometriosis Australia said she's thrilled to have Carroll on board.
"It shows it's not just a woman's burden. As a community we all need to stand up and support these women. We've got quite a few dads and husbands who want to help but feel so helpless," Ciccia said.
Indianna Carroll cheer leading when her health was better. IMAGE: Supplied
Carroll is organising a charity race with some of his NRL mates to raise money for research.
"And I want to meet with the health minister. I want to talk to Hunt and to explain from a father's point of view. I tear up seeing my daughter crying every day in pain. We need need to find answers," he said.
And while he admitted, "I'm no doctor", he said watching both his wife and daughter suffer had taught him a lot about the condition.
"I can help the cause and get the word out there, this illness cripples women and not enough is known about it. We need to figure this out."
On Wednesday, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced a National Action Plan for Endometriosis as well as a funding injection of $1.2 million. The money will be directed at boosting public awareness and further research.