Yellow wiggle, Emma Watkins, has announced that she will be taking a break from national touring as she undergoes surgery for endometriosis.
Appearing on Today on Friday, Watkins told co-host Georgie Gardner that the diagnosis was unexpected.
"I think even for me it was a really big shock," she says. "Over the last couple of years I'd noticed a lot of pain and I think, even as a girl, you're used to dealing with what you have to deal with."
When the pain worsened, Watkins went to see her doctor. "As it started to progress, to get a little bit worse, I thought 'I should get it checked out'. I think I've almost left it too long and I realised that lots of people don't even think about going to see somebody earlier."
Watkins, who wed purple wiggle Lachlan Gillespie in April 2016, admitted that initially, she didn't think too much about her symptoms.
"I just thought it was a really bad period and really heavy bleeding," she says, adding that it was when she began experiencing headaches during shows that she thought "OK this is probably a little too much now'."
Explaining that she has a number of cysts and that the surgery will be difficult, Watkins notes, "I need to take the rest quite soon and I need to be serious about looking at my health as a priority."
As well as focusing on her own health and recovery, Watkins hopes that sharing her story will encourage other women to seek help for the condition.
"It's so common at the moment – it's one in 10 women in Australia – that suffer from endometriosis but may be seven or 10 years delayed in diagnosis.
"So if I can spread awareness about checking up on your symptoms, and if you do have pain go and see somebody because I know it has been the best thing for me."
A statement posted to the Wiggles Facebook page, indicates that Watkins will be admitted to hospital on April 17th for surgery. "Following medical advice, Emma will unfortunately not be able to perform at Dreamworld on April 17th and at our shows in South Australia from April 21st - 30th and the NSW and Canberra shows from May 12th - 20th," the statement reads.
Watkins also addressed fans, apologising for missing the upcoming "Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle" shows. "I have been in a lot of pain for the past couple of years and on advice from my specialist, a difficult decision has been made for me to be urgently admitted to hospital to have an operation to manage the pain that endometriosis has brought on," she said.
While Watkins recovers during April and May the show will go on, with a friend stepping into her yellow (and black) shoes. "A friend of mine wilI be dressing up just like me so you can still enjoy the 'Emma' experience in the show," she added. "Sing and dance along with your favourite bowitful songs and don't forget to bring your favourite bow and dress up in yellow! Lachy, Anthony and Simon Wiggle will all still be there at the show along with our friends Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, Wags the Dog and Captain Feathersword."
The news comes as Health Minister Greg Hunt presents a draft national action plan on endometriosis at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting of health ministers on Friday. The final plan will be released in June, and involves teaching schoolchildren about pelvic pain and endometriosis and better equipping GPs.
Last year, Mr Hunt apologised for not helping women with endometriosis sooner, before announcing the development of the national action plan.
"On behalf of all of those in Parliament and all of those who have been responsible for our medical system, I apologise," he said at the time. "This condition should have been acknowledged at an earlier time in a more powerful way, and it will never be forgotten again."
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. As well as pain, it can also cause problems with fertility.
According to Endometriosis Australia, symptoms can include:
- Pain that stops you on or around your period.
- Pain on or around ovulation.
- Pain during or after sex.
- Pain with bowel movements.
- Pain when you urinate.
- Pain in your pelvic region, lower back or legs.
- Having trouble holding on when you have a full bladder, or having to go frequently.
- Heavy bleeding or irregular bleeding.
For more information visit Endometriosis Australia