800Words star Cian’s se­cret pain

The ac­tress tell show every pe­riod threat­ened her ca­reer

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - Contents -

When Cian El­yse White ar­rived on set for the sec­ond sea­son of 800Words, her cast­mates would never have guessed she’d just re­turned from a stint in hos­pi­tal. She was her usual happy, chatty and en­er­getic self.

But Kiwi ac­tress Cian, 29, was well-versed in hid­ing a se­cret med­i­cal bat­tle that had gripped her for over a decade. And her lat­est visit to A&E was only one of many caused by the painful dis­or­der en­dometrio­sis.

“It’s such an all-con­sum­ing dis­ease,” Cian con­fesses to

Woman’s Day, open­ing up about her fight for the very first time. “One of the worst episodes hap­pened two weeks be­fore film­ing 800Words. I had to be rushed to hos­pi­tal.

“There were a lot of late nights at the hos­pi­tal and I would usu­ally be on my own. I was quite pri­vate about it. I was very anx­ious that it would im­pact my ca­reer – that it would be­come a li­a­bil­ity.”

Cian be­lieves her bat­tle with en­dometrio­sis, a con­di­tion in which the tis­sue that usu­ally

lines the in­side of the uterus grows out­side on other or­gans, caus­ing in­cred­i­bly painful pe­ri­ods, started as soon as her first cy­cle ar­rived.

She ini­tially be­lieved the ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain each month was merely pe­riod cramps, like so many teens talked about. But with each pass­ing year, the pain would ramp up, be­com­ing more and more ex­cru­ci­at­ing un­til at the age of 20, she was rushed to hos­pi­tal with sus­pected ap­pen­dici­tis.

“I was do­ing a show in Welling­ton at The Opera House and I had to be taken to A&E,” she re­calls. “They thought it was ap­pen­dici­tis, so they put me un­der to take it out. Then when I woke up, they said I had en­dometrio­sis. I’d never even heard of it.”

Show goes on

Over the next five years as she jumped from spe­cial­ist to spe­cial­ist, each strug­gling to get her en­dometrio­sis un­der con­trol de­spite five surg­eries, Cian’s ca­reer ex­ploded.

She not only graced our screens on many TV shows, in­clud­ing play­ing Han­nah on TVNZ 1’s 800

Words, but in 2011, Cian co-cre­ated the play Hear to

See, which won Most Orig­i­nal Pro­duc­tion at the Chap­man Tripp The­atre Awards.

How­ever, in­stead of truly en­joy­ing her suc­cess, Cian’s big­gest fear was that she’d have a “ter­ri­ble episode” dur­ing film­ing. And in 2016, just be­fore her re­turn to 800

Words, Cian was rushed to hos­pi­tal with a cyst that had grown to the size of a six­month-old foe­tus. She was in so much pain that doc­tors later told her it would be on the same level, if not higher, than child­birth.

“Per­form­ing is my life and the arts is what I be­lieve I was brought here to do, so I knew I had to find a way to get it un­der con­trol,” Cian ex­plains. “I just didn’t want it to own my life any more.”

The young ac­tress was fi­nally re­ferred to her first fe­male spe­cial­ist, Dr Fiona Con­nell, who works out of Auck­land’s North Shore Hos­pi­tal.

“She was the first sur­geon who was brave enough to come up with a plan to get it un­der con­trol,” tells Cian. “Be­ing in my 20s, a lot of sur­geons were too scared to touch it. They didn’t re­ally want to be touch­ing my womb when I hadn’t had chil­dren yet.”

Free at last!

Dur­ing the op­er­a­tion, Dr Con­nell burnt away the en­dometrio­sis around the body, pierc­ing the many cysts be­fore re­mov­ing them. She also fit­ted the hor­monere­leas­ing IUD Mirena, which sup­presses ovu­la­tion, pre­vent­ing any fur­ther en­dometrio­sis.

“That was two years ago and since then, I’ve had no pain and I’ve lost eight ki­los as my hor­mones are now bal­anced,” says Cian, who ap­pears in Prime’s The Bro­ken wood Mys­ter­ies this

week and has a project, Meke, set to run at Show Me Shorts Film Fes­ti­vals this year.

“And I have been told that my ovar­ian func­tion is re­ally good for when I want to try and have chil­dren.”

Just months af­ter hav­ing the life-chang­ing surgery, the star fell madly in love with a lo­cal from her home­town of Ro­torua, who she shyly refers to only as “Will”.

“It’s been the most bliss­ful two years,” she says with a huge smile. “I’m no longer dread­ing each month. And with­out the pain, I have clar­ity. No-one should go through that in se­cret. We need to open up the di­a­logue as there are lots of women out there also suf­fer­ing.”

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