“Sometimes it can be quite a simple procedure to remove that tissue if it’s affecting areas,” Sophie says.
“But they can be very major surgeries that take hours and have many disciplinary teams involved.
“My last surgery was quite extensive,” she reveals.
“I had a lot of tissue cut out from everywhere – in my bladder, bowel, all throughout my abdomen. My doctor did say that if he was going to remove all of the [scar] tissue in my abdomen, I wouldn’t have any organs left, so he was unable to do so, but he removed a significant amount. It was a decent recovery process this time.”
Sophie, who was a registered nurse before launching her acting career, was 20 when she underwent laparoscopic surgery for the first time for endometriosis.
“I was very lucky that, after my first surgery, I had five years where I was relatively pain-free,” she says. “That was until about 18 months ago when I started getting the pain back – and that’s when it got really tough.”
Yet the show – as they say – must go on.
“Going to work every day when you have to wear costumes, you have to be on the beach, you have to be standing a lot of the time running lines or in a scene, is really hard to do when you’re in pain. To combat that, having to take medication for it is hard to stay on top of – you don’t want to take medication that’s going to affect your ability to act, but sometimes that’s the only thing that works. You constantly have to carry hot water bottles … just trying to manage the pain and the bloating.
“Work has been very understanding when I’ve needed to have time off, but you feel bad. You feel like you’re disappointing people by not going to work and not putting on a brave face. So it’s a very difficult, long battle.”
Through it all, Sophie’s Summer Bay love interest and real-life partner Patrick O’Connor has been by her side.
“He is honestly an angel,” she reflects. “I could not have functioned without him these past 12 months.
“He had no idea about endometriosis and what it is, but he did all this reading and learnt about it. He has given me all these suggestions and was such a huge support to me through my surgery.”
Sophie believes it’s time to bring endometriosis into the spotlight.
“The disease itself can be so incredibly isolating,” she says. “It can still be a taboo subject – talking about women’s health. So you do feel alone.”
For this reason, she didn’t hesitate to lend her support to Endometriosis Australia, this month marking Worldwide EndoMarch.
“I’m the ambassador for Endometriosis Australia’s High Teas, which are happening on March 28 all around the country,” she says. “I’m also speaking, along with my sister, at the Brisbane event. We’re hoping to raise much-needed awareness and funding for the disease.”
As for her prognosis, Sophie is cautiously optimistic.
“It’s better,” she says of her condition. “But I’m not out of the woods yet. Unfortunately, this is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. I’ve certainly had some relief, and that’s all we can hope for – to do the best we can and manage the best we can.
“But there is a major shift happening. All of a sudden, women have found their voice with these issues. And it’s awesome to feel that energy.”
For more information on the EndoMarch High Tea 2020on Saturday, March 28, go to endometriosisaustralia.org
For more, see this week's New Idea - out now!