Ezer Women, Help Us Fight for Healthy Bodies

Posted by on Mar 28, 2023

“Be grateful every time you are bleeding and in pain, allowing it to remind you of the blood and suffering of Christ.”

—A group of well-meaning aunties at a “prayers for healing” gathering in Singapore in 2018

I first wrote this blog in 2017. Over five years later, little has changed. And while #endometriosisawarenessmonth is nearly at an end, now seems the perfect time to remind my fellow warriors of the invisible fight so many of your sisters are waging day after day, month after month, year after year.


“I’m sorry that the medical system has failed you.” 

I wanted to wrap my arms around the man who spoke these words, to look deep into his tired, still-youthful brown eyes and thank him for this gift—his affirmation that my pain experience did not reflect my own weakness or failure. That rushing to the emergency room in the middle of the night was an act of bravery, and his inability to do anything besides supply me with morphine didn’t mean I should stop fighting for answers.

He wasn’t the first doctor to concede that my pain is the result of a legitimate medical condition. But he was the first to acknowledge that his limitations did not invalidate my experience.

Sadly, too many in the medical community have never done that for me. I want to be clear: there are incredible health-care providers who believe rather than dismiss their sisters’ pain. But I have found that most struggle, even fail, to do so. And when that lack of support comes from other women, it hurts worse.

I know we can all do better. But I want to speak now to those who have harmed me most often. Sisters, I know you can do better. I know this because we were created to be ezers.

Some translate the Hebrew word ezer as merely “helper” and argue that women were created subordinate to men. That’s a poor, limited translation of a word that is also used to describe the kind of help God provides to his people. Scripture indicates that an ezer is a “strong rescue”—a woman of strength and courage. 

I got this tattoo in 2017 after my second surgery. It serves as a physical reminder of my calling and strength, and I wore it proudly during my third and fourth surgeries.

From the beginning, women were meant to be warriors. So who better to fight for me? Who better to rise up on my behalf? 

Yet it was a woman who first told me that—at a whopping fifteen pounds over the recommended weight—I was fat, and perhaps my pain was the consequence of poor lifestyle decisions. It was a woman who first told me I suffered from bad cramps that I just needed to “deal with” better.

And it was a woman who told me nothing was wrong. Not physically. She diagnosed me with anxiety. And—when bitter tears of resentment and frustration and pain began to roll—she diagnosed me with depression.

Smart women—fellow ezers—I need us to fight for one another.

If I had been born before the twentieth century, I’m certain I would have been diagnosed with hysteria. Instead, after two years of searching for answers, I underwent a laparoscopic surgery and was diagnosed with endometriosis. I clung to my new medical identifier like a lifeline.

I didn’t know that even in the twenty-first century, a diagnosis related to women’s reproductive organs would often be treated in the same dismissive fashion it always has been.

My surgery didn’t cure me. And my doctors didn’t know what to do. “It should have worked,” one said with a shrug. My own research revealed endometriosis is never truly “cured,” but the pain can and should be manageable. Some websites testified to the benefits of holistic measures, including dietary changes and Eastern medicine practices. When I asked my doctor to refer me to an acupuncturist, she refused. “It won’t help,” she insisted. 

Instead, I was to modify my body. 

I could take a shot that would temporarily shut off my hormones and put me into menopause. “Why don’t you just try getting pregnant?” one doctor asked, “sometimes that helps.” As if choosing to become a mother in my early twenties—to alleviate pain and not because I was ready or wanting to be a mother—was an easy option to consider. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the word “hysterectomy” floated menacingly around the offices I frequented, threatening me with a fear of “now or never.”

There has to be another way. According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, more than one in ten women in the United States have endometriosis. Yet one of the most groundbreaking studies about the under-researched disease in 2017 detailed its impact on men’s well-being and the practices doctors could employ to be more sensitive toward men whose partners suffer with endometriosis. The research was spearheaded by a woman. 

Strong women, I need us to fight for one another.

What breeds this kind of dismissiveness? Perhaps it’s our own progress that hinders us from standing up and speaking out. In our fight to break the chains of the “curse of Eve,” to shed the shackles of perceived inferiority, we’ve unintentionally perpetuated another myth: that our reproductive system is something “other,” something fearsome, something unclean.

And, in turn, we’ve missed our calling as ezer women to fight—for answers, for results, for progress—rather than dismiss our sisters’ physical experiences.

Brave women, I need us to fight for one another. 

Sometimes women who have themselves battled this disease, or intimately know someone who has, are the ones who do the silencing. They tell me surgery worked for them, and it should have worked for me. They do not want to talk about their experience—not to me or to others.

It may sound counterintuitive but I urge you, brave women, to show your ezer strength by risking vulnerability.

Share your testimonies. If my colleague had done this—had refused to let our male colleagues’ discomfort influence her—I might not have had to face stigma in the office when trying to explain the reasons for my many absences or the need to undergo a second surgery a mere six months after the first. If the two women in the prayer circle at the church I attended while living in Singapore had done this, the other aunties may not have fallen back on the myth of the curse of Eve and asked me to take communion so I could connect my experience to the blood and suffering of Christ.

Faithful women, I need us to fight for one another. 

Fight on the pulpit. Fight with your prayers—but also with your compassion. God hasn’t healed me yet. That doesn’t mean God is not present in my experience. But it does mean that pat answers to “trust God for healing” feel more dismissive than helpful.   

My sisters, fight for me. Fight with me. 

My battle, as is the case for so many women with chronic health issues, continues. But it’s much easier to fight with warrior women at our sides. We need your wisdom, your strength, your bravery, and your faith on this battlefield. After all, ezers are uniquely called to rescue. It is time we rescued one another.


More information about the curse of Eve and the stigmatization of women’s reproduction can be found in chapter 8 of The Girl Child & Her Long Walk to Freedom reading journey. Check it out on the Girl Child Long Walk Hub.

Whitney Bak is the collaborative writer, author coach, and editor behind Wit & the World Creative Services. She has worked on nearly 250 published books over the course of her career and has provided freelance services for the Girl Child Long Walk team since 2018. You can connect with Whitney on LinkedIn.