Haley Khalil has plenty of reasons to celebrate this year.
The Sports Illustrated Swimwear Modelwho spent years in physical agony, is finally living a pain-free life after addressing a growing health problem that seems to have no answers.
More than 14 doctors and five years later, Khalil He was diagnosed with endometriosisUrethritis and ovarian cysts left her in pain and tears behind closed doors. The 29-year-old said she tried to get a diagnosis after feeling something wasn’t right but doctors often refused. Today, she’s opening up about her experience with the hope that it will inspire other women to take charge of their health and seek another opinion if they’re still in the dark.
The Minnesota-born girl and founder of The Nerd Herd made her SI Swimsuit debut in 2018 as part of the magazine’s open invitation. she was The winner was chosen along with Camille Kostik.
Khalil spoke to Fox News Digital about her health battle, how she’s working today and how SI made her feel strong.
Fox News: Tell us about your health problem.
Haley Khalil: Oh my God, it was a trip. If you’re a woman who’s been through it, you know what the journey looks like. It is not diagnosed for a long time. I suffer from endometriosis as well as what the doctors described as urethritis. I also suffer from ovarian cysts. You recently had surgery to help remove tissue from Endometriosis, as well as the scar tissue that I developed from urethritis.
Fox News: How long have you been having problems?
Khalil: Oh man as long as I can remember. As far as back to College during adulthood. I had my worst period. Terrible cramps and heavy bleeding. I was in so much pain. But you go to the doctor, and then you’re told, “It’s just your period. It’s just cramping. It’s normal.” But I felt that this was not normal.
I was a virgin when I got married. I speak very frankly about it. Once I got married, I started experiencing other symptoms, including painful sex and more bleeding. There was no way this was normal. But every doctor told me it was. Some even said that because I waited until marriage. It was another excuse for another excuse. I had no answers.
But finally, I met ER . doctor. I give her a lot of credit. She sat me down, and she looked me in the eye, and said, “Everything you’re going through isn’t normal. You have to ask about endometriosis and urethritis because I think that’s what you’re having.” She was the first doctor to take my pain seriously.
It took a woman to take my pain seriously. I don’t hate male doctors, but I was pretty frustrated at that point. I’ve been to several male doctors, and I feel the pain has cleared up. I know it’s hard for them to understand. They do not have a uterus. It’s hard to recognize this pain when you haven’t experienced it before. But I wish it was taken seriously. This emergency room doctor recommended me to a friend of hers. That’s when I finally got my diagnosis. I felt very comfortable. I had answers.
Fox News: When did you first realize that the pain you were experiencing wasn’t normal?
Khalil: I used to scream my eyes out so hard. Eventually, I got used to the pain, which is sad even to admit. I used to cry physically and in so much agony that I had to go to the emergency room because I couldn’t stand it anymore. This just didn’t feel right. I felt like the doctors underestimated my experiences.
Fox News: Do you know what endometriosis was before your condition was diagnosed?
Khalil: not at all. I have no idea what it was. I thought it was another term for a painful time. But the truth is that a lot of women have it, and yet they have no idea. They learn to accept their pain and assume it is normal.
Fox News: When did you have the surgery?
Khalil: I’ve had several surgeries. I like to joke that I’m rubbish from the waist down *laughs*. But I scoff because it helps you deal with the pain and realize that you need surgery. [My last surgery] It was January 25th. Honestly, my biggest fear was the scars. I am in an industry where any mark on your body can be a mark against who you are and who you are. You also live in a world where women want to wear a bikini and don’t want to be afraid because scars are ugly in the eyes of society.
I remember sitting on the sofa with my girlfriend, a pediatrician familiar with endometriosis. Here I am, “Should I have this surgery? I’m afraid of these scars.” She just looked at me and said, “You don’t even realize what you’re saying now. You’re choosing your vanity over the fact that you can finally be free of pain. And that’s so sad.” At that moment I thought to myself, “What do I do? I can’t believe I would choose to have a scar-free body versus living a pain-free life in the end.” Having the surgery was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Fox News: how do you feel today?
Khalil: A million times better – even better… I can’t even tell you how happy I am. They could have mutilated my entire body and I would have picked it up. I’m not interested. I am so happy to finally be living a pain free life.
And it’s funny that the people I work with on the set are not judgmental at all. They were more like, “I’m sorry you had to get through that.” They look at my scar and say, “That’s nothing.” I had laparoscopic surgery so the incisions are very small. I have one on my belly button and two near my belly. It was that simple.
Fox News: Many women with endometriosis tend to suffer in silence and try to cope with the pain as I did.
Khalil: This was something I’ve done in my life in general. You never want to be that girl sitting there complaining about your period. There’s still a stigma around that where everyone rolls their eyes and goes, “Come on, we’re all experiencing it.” With Sports Illustrated, I’ve been very open with them from the start. [Editor-in-chief] MJ Day looked at me one day and said, “We all have scars. You’re human. It’s part of your journey. It’s part of who you are.”
I felt so comfortable with the SI, as if I could tell them anything. I didn’t have to smile through the pain with them. If I’m in pain, I can talk. There were other times in different groups that I didn’t feel comfortable opening up. Instead, you just happen to be the happy girl in the group even though on the inside you just want to go to the bathroom and cry. There were a few times, when I was a model, that I had to smile through my pain. But I’ve never done that with SI. They gave me a safe space to speak freely… which I do now, with pride.