Carolinas HealthCare System

A Young Woman’s Fight to Reclaim Her Life


Watch Kathleen Aliff's story of her treatment for severe endometriosis by a team of experts at the Women’s Center for Pelvic Health. (1:25)
Kathleen Aliff, a 27-year old Charlotte, NC, native, has already been through more health challenges than many people experience in a lifetime. "I remember one day getting out of the shower, blacking out and collapsing on the bathroom floor," Kathleen recalls. "I was in and out of the Emergency Department because of my pain; no one knew what was wrong with me."

Over a 10-month period, she made repeated visits to the hospital for her unbearable pain. She had surgery for removal of ovarian cysts (one the size of a grapefruit), followed by a treatment regimen that included pain medication, physical therapy, electrical nerve stimulation and hormone medication injections. Ultimately, Kathleen was diagnosed with severe endometriosis.

Finding “Pelvic Pain Heaven”

In March 2011, when her pain recurred, Kathleen established a relationship with what she refers to as her “pelvic pain heaven” at Carolinas Medical Center- Mercy’s Women’s Center for Pelvic Health. "Between the comprehensive services and amazing team of physicians, therapists, nurses and staff, all of my needs were met," she says. "I’m so glad it’s here in Charlotte." Kathleen credits them with enabling her to live her life without pain controlling her every thought.

"Sometimes you need to take control of your own health. You know your body better than anyone else. If something feels wrong, seek professional help."

OB/GYN Elizabeth Morgan, MD, and physical therapist Shannon Cormier, PT, DPT, specialize in pelvic pain and care for patients at the Women’s Center for Pelvic Health. Both were instrumental in Kathleen’s ability to manage her pain. "Dr. Morgan was understanding, compassionate and a wonderful patient advocate. She saved my life. She’s my angel," Kathleen says, enthusiastically. "And I give Shannon credit, too, for helping me work through my pain so I’m able to live a quality life."

A Second Surgery

Kathleen and Ben Aliff
Kathleen and Ben Aliff Enjoying Life
Thanks to the care she received at CMC-Mercy’s Women’s Center for Pelvic Health, Kathleen Aliff is finally free from the pelvic pain that controlled her life.
Just a few months later, Kathleen needed another surgery to remove the progressing endometriosis. She worked with surgeon Kevin Stepp, MD, and the team to determine a treatment plan for before, during and after surgery. "The staff at CMC-Mercy was phenomenal," Kathleen says.

Dr. Stepp performed a four-and-a- half-hour, robot-assisted surgery. "Because of Dr. Stepp’s skill level and the technology he used, he was able to remove the endometriosis completely," says Kathleen. The work she did with Shannon prepared her for the surgery and helped her recover quickly. "I was up on my feet the following day!" she adds.

The Road Back

Today, Kathleen is enjoying life again. She and her husband, Ben, are enjoying concerts and trips to the dog park with their Brittany spaniel, Bella. They entertain guests in their home again and Kathleen has returned to her volunteer work with the Junior League at Levine Children’s Hospital doing crafts with the children.

"I feel fantastic,” Kathleen says. "The biggest thing is that I can enjoy life again. I’m not controlled by my pain." Her advice to others suffering from pelvic pain: "Sometimes you need to take control of your own health. You know your body better than anyone else. If something feels wrong, seek professional help."

Close