Introducing the #itdontdefine campaign

“He won’t love me anymore if I’m not in pain”

“I have a chronic illness; I can’t start my own business”

“How can I enjoy my life with this illness”

The #itdontdefine campaign has a simple and powerful mission; to show women from all walks of life that their illness doesn’t need to define who they are.

All too often women suffering from long term illness begin to let it define them, but life shouldn’t be like that. By sharing stories and experiences and introducing the world to women who have broken the mold and experienced the fullness of life despite their illnesses, we’re passionate about opening your eyes to just what women can achieve.

Love your battle scars – Meet the Founder

Samantha Cook-Bateman has battled with Endometriosis for most of her life. She has many scars on her abdomen from countless surgeries to treat the disease. When talking to a close friend she realised that the scars haven’t just taken away her self-confidence, but her sexiness too. She came to see that she felt more like a specimen than a woman and that her scars were having a negative impact on her life. But at that moment she saw that her scars were something to be proud of; they were battle scars and should be worn loud and proud.

Her goal is to show other women how to fall in love with their lives all over again.

She truly knows what it is like to live with a chronic disease.   Samantha has endometriosis, and here is her medical story.

The official diagnosis was around age 28.

  • Total of 16 surgeries to manage it.
    • Ten laparoscopes since 1997.
    • A perforated bowel post her 10th laparoscope resulting in a colostomy bag and the removal of about 10cm of her large intestine requiring a 6-hour emergency surgery starting at about 2am.
    • A second surgery 7 months later to repair the damage, remove the colostomy and put in an ileostomy.
    • A visit to the emergency a few weeks later on her 40th birthday – she had an infection, her kidneys were failing, and she weighed 39kg.
    • A third surgery 4 months later to reverse the ileostomy and “put her back together”.
    • Two more surgeries to have a neuromodulation unit placed in her backside and 4 wires in her spine to help control the pain.
    • One more surgery for a hysterectomy which involved a rectal surgeon, a gynecological surgeon, and a robot.
  • She’s lost count of the emergency room visits.
  • Around 40 days in hospital, that’s about a month and a half.
  • Approximately a day and a half, maybe 2 give or take, of anesthetic in total.
  • A disastrous round of IVF ended in her first case of renal failure.
  • Seven miscarriages and zero children.

All of this has left her with physical and emotional scars and yet she has managed to carve out a successful career, designed and built her own house, started and grown her own business.

How has she done it?  It is not an easy question to answer but one thing she does know is it is because she made the decision to do it.  She made the decision to not let her illness define who she is or what she can do.  She admits some days are harder than others.

“You just have to keep making the decision every day to get up and get on with it. That is how it don’t define”.

Samantha Cook-Bateman