Stepping Up – Michelle Lonschek
Disheartened and depressed by considerable weight gain, a miscarriage, two ectopic pregnancies and a host of other PCOS symptoms, Canadian Michelle Lonschek admits that she was once consumed by self-pity. In spite of having a caring family and friends, she longed for a community of women who could relate "exactly to what I was experiencing."
Driven by both unhappiness and curiosity, Michelle created a group on Facebook
simply called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which can be accessed at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2377865557
"I was wondering just how many people out there have the same fears and frustrations about PCOS that I have," explains Michelle, "and how big of an impact it can have on all aspects of your life especially when it starts to affect your fertility, which, in my case, happened before it had any major noticeable impact on the rest of my health.
"Is there anyone out there that knows why I feel the way I do, physically and emotionally?" she asked.
Yes. In one year, Michelle's group has grown to include more than 1,500 members from as far away as Australia, who join in, talk about the stories, "meet" new people with similar problems, post websites and videos and support one another in their difficult journeys.
Starting the online PCOS group was "when I stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided I was going to try to help the ones who feel or felt like I did," says Michelle. "Even if it's only one girl out there who feels even a small bit of comfort from reading and talking with others in my group then I have done my job. Or that one woman who had no idea what was wrong with her and saw the symptoms on the front page through a friend who has joined and has been able to start treatment. I had no idea the sense of accomplishment such a small act could give a person."
When she's not online, Michelle works in Accounts at Ontario-based Goeman's Appliances,
considers volunteering with teenage girls to inform them about PCOS and is preparing to start the "fertility journey" all over again with her boyfriend "thankfully this time with a lot more knowledge and understanding," she confirms optimistically.
But she's committed to her online PCOS community. "Even though I don't know these girls and will never have the pleasure of actually meeting them, I've been able to touch their lives. I'm so proud of them, and myself, for opening up and sharing everything, and encouraging others to do so, as hard and sometimes embarrassing as it may be."