In March, Irwin, the daughter of the late zookeeper Steve Irwin, revealed she was diagnosed with endometriosis — a painful disorder in which uterine-like tissue, called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus and forms lesions.
For the 25-year-old conservationist, the condition caused “indescribable” pain, extreme fatigue, cramping and nausea.
Now, about seven months post-surgery, Irwin told Good Morning America she feels like a “completely new person.”
“It’s been a long journey,” Irwin recalled with tears in her eyes. “It’s been a long ten years.”
Irwin said she’s been dealing with the symptoms since she was a teenager. In her search for a diagnosis she visited numerous doctors and underwent several medical tests including MRIs, ultrasounds, CT scans and testing for cancer.
Every time, her pain was again dismissed by doctors, and Irwin was left without answers. She said month after month, her symptoms grew worse and her “devastation” increased.
Finally, after marrying her husband and giving birth to their first child, daughter Grace, Irwin was diagnosed with endometriosis. The identification came after Irwin experienced “severe unexplained pain” that caused her to believe she was miscarrying during her pregnancy.
Since many women with endometriosis cannot get pregnant, Irwin said she and husband Chandler Powell are “so lucky to have Grace.”
Irwin had surgery to confirm her endometriosis diagnosis this year. She said her doctors removed 37 lesions from around her uterus.
When she awoke from surgery, Irwin said the first thing her doctor asked was simple: “How did you live with that much pain?”
“That validation meant so much to me,” Irwin cried.
The healing process was long, but the surgery changed Irwin’s life.
“My health now is night and day,” she said. “I’m actually able to go on a walk with my family. I’m able to do the conservation work. I’m able to be there for our daughter, finally. I’m able to run around with her, to play with her, to have fun and revel in her joy.”
Irwin said she hopes her story will inspire people with endometriosis, or other undiagnosed conditions, to advocate for themselves and their quality of life.
“I hope that other people will find comfort in my story,” Irwin said. “Maybe my story resonates.”
Approximately one in 10 women will develop endometriosis, according to the Canadian Endometriosis Network. The cause of the condition is not known.