Today’s my day on the Blog Tour for Elizabeth Just 16 by Cecilia Paul.
If you’re not aware of Elizabeth Just 16, it is a really informative, educational and interesting book about a young girl who has recently found out she has been diagnosed with the condition Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome or MRKH for short. MRKH is an unusual complex congenital disorder that affects the female reproductive tract, resulting in them being born without a womb, cervix and vagina.
I have a brilliant post to show you from author Cecelia Paul on why she felt she needed to write this book and what she hoped she could get out of it. And of course the usual book details.
Shall we get to it?
▪️Blurb: Elizabeth Appleton is a sweet and easy-going adolescent. But as she turns sixteen, she discovers something so devastating about herself that her whole world is turned upside down. Elizabeth has been born without a womb or a vagina and is diagnosed with MRKH, an unusual congenital disorder that affects the female reproductive tract. Frightened and confused, Elizabeth must struggle to understand how she can still be a girl but no longer a ‘normal’ one. As she questions everyone and everything around her – her burgeoning sexuality, her gender, her hopes for the future – Elizabeth must fight against the shame and betrayal she feels if she is to ever become the woman she has always hoped to be.
▪️Author Details: Based in London, Cecilia Paul has worked for the NHS, in the field of gynaecology for over twenty years and, where she later worked within a specialist team, specialising in congenital disorders of the genital tract. Together, they have treated hundreds of women with this unusual congenital syndrome, MRKH. Now retired, and with a wealth of knowledge under her belt, Cecilia has been inspired to write her first novel dealing with this little-known syndrome hoping to bring awareness and understanding into the public sphere. Furthermore, as she has retired, she would like to encourage these women to get the appropriate help from specialist centres, that can provide them with a holistic support and treatment.
When I was working in a team that specialised in congenital genital tract disorders, we saw and treated hundreds of young girls and women with their various complaints and different unusual conditions.
Several of them had this unusual congenital condition, Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH). The women were females but they were born without a womb, cervix and vagina. They had functioning ovaries so they developed their breasts, body hair and external genitalia (private parts below) normally at puberty but, their periods did not start. Many of them were informed that they were late starters. By the age of sixteen, they still had no periods. Of course, without a womb, they would never menstruate (have periods). This is when the majority of women with MRKH are diagnosed – at the age of sixteen.
I decided to write my novel on this condition because I wanted to demonstrate the impact MRKH, has on a young girl or any woman to be told that she has this condition and hoped that through my novel, the women with MRKH, will have a better understanding of their condition and, it will also encourage them to get the correct help and support from the experts so that they learn to accept and to come to terms.
MRKH is a very complex condition because of its huge psychological inferences on the women. They often start questioning their gender, identity and womanhood. It also impacts on their self-belief and self-worth and, on their lives. I have heard their so many heartbreaking stories too and, I was inspired by them. I was also a part of their journeys and, I admired their strength and courage to correct their under-developed vaginas so that they could have sexual intercourse normally and, also their struggles to come to terms with their inability to have children.
I felt urged to write my novel because I wanted to help and encourage the women by sharing my experiences and expertise in their management with them and, tomake them aware that there is specialist help and support for them. I wanted them to know that the experts understand their psychological struggle to accept their condition and why it is so important for them to receive the appropriate help from these experts. I am aware that they also feel embarrassed and ashamed of their condition so they are frightened of telling anyone they have MRKH or for anyone to find out that they were born different for fear of ridicule or rejection and so, they do not talk openly about it. As such, they feel isolated and alone but, through my novel, I hoped that they will have a better understanding of their condition and, this might give them the courage to not be so afraid. I alsowanted them to know that they are not the ‘only one’ and that their MRKH is not rare because there are other women too. I hoped that after reading my novel, they will be brave enough to reach out to other contacts, which is another important aspect of their support and management. I also felt I needed to write my novel to show them that their feelings and whatever they are going through is not uncommon but that with the correct and appropriate support, they can come to terms and they can lead normal lives.
I am also aware of public ignorance because not much is known about this condition since the women tend to keep this their deeply guarded secret so I hoped that by writing my novel, it will inform the public and maybe then, they will be more empathetic and respectful towards the women with MRKH.
I also felt that I would have wasted my knowledge and experience if I did not write this novel, especially when my team and I have always worked very hard to help these women and we always tried our very best to help them achieve their optimal outcome – acceptance and getting on with their lives normally.
▪️ Book Details:
Title: Elizabeth Just 16.
Author: Cecilia Paul.
Book Length: 364 Pages.
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing.
Publication Date: June 28 201
▪️ Links to buy:
Huge thank you to both Cecilia herself and Rachel over at Authoright for inviting me onto the tour. Always appreciated.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed today’s stop and it has intrigued you enough to want to know more about Elizabeth Just 16 and MRKH. My review will go live in a few days time.
Love as always,