SAN LORENZO — Sylvia Mireles looks healthy. And indeed, she is feeling much better since she underwent a surgery last week to remove the endometriosis that was spread throughout her abdomen.
Since then, Mireles has rested at the Endo Inn, the cozy home of endometriosis survivor and advocate Peggy Santa Maria and her husband, Roy. Mireles is the Endo Inn's 70th guest since it opened in October 1999 under the motto — thought up by Roy — "Stay at the Endo Inn while you are getting your endo taken out."
After searching for more than a year, Mireles, a Los Angeles resident, found a doctor at Stanford hospital in Palo Alto to perform the surgery. Though scheduled for three hours, it lasted four and removed 80 percent of the disease, so Mireles will return for more surgery in two months.
Mireles found the Santa Marias through the Endometriosis Association, with which she helped start a chapter in Los Angeles, just a month ago. While Mireles researched information about endometriosis online, she craved personal connection.
"I need to see and read faces to feel support," she said.
According to the Endometriosis Association, endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects 51/2 million women and girls in the U.S. and Canada. It occurs when tissue like that which lines the uterus is found outside the uterus. This misplaced tissue develops into growths that respond to the menstrual cycle in the same way the uterine lining does, but cause
internal bleeding and inflammation because it has no way of leaving the body. It commonly causes infertility, bowel problems and often occurs with other diseases like celiac, a gluten intolerance.
The guest bedroom at Endo Inn is filled with books about healing and pictures of the Santa Marias' two Dalmatians. Rather than stay in a hotel, Mireles stays here for free, takes walks in the neighborhood and keeps her own food in the kitchen.
"Peggy and Roy have been very warm, understanding and casual. They have open hearts," she said. "They really walk the talk."
Peggy Santa Maria was president of the San Francisco Endometriosis chapter for 10 years and answered crisis calls for eight years. She knows well how painful the disease can be. She experienced it starting the first day of her period, 38 years ago. By the time she was 28, she had had 11 surgeries, including a hysterectomy.