Today, we’re talking to Malak, who worked with Let’s Talk Period founder Dr. Paula James at Queen’s University in the summer of 2013 as part of a research project. At the time, Malak was an undergraduate life science student at the University and is now in her 2nd year of medical school. She is planning to pursue a practice in cardiac surgery after her studies.
In this interview, we discuss Malak’s work with Dr. James, and her contribution to the Let’s Talk Period campaign – including creating the project name. Read on for the backstory of what inspired the name Let’s Talk Period, including the key social issues and taboos that prevent women from talking about their period and potentially discovering that they have a bleeding disorder. We also discuss how the project has grown since 2013 from Malak’s
Hi Malak! In the summer of 2013, when you were working with us on the project that eventually led to the publication of Normal range of bleeding scores for the ISTH-BAT: adult and pediatric data from the merging project, you came up with the idea of the actual Let’s Talk Period name. Can you tell me more about how you came up with that idea?
I remember during my research project, Dr. James gave me the opportunity to attend clinics, do observerships and to attend focus groups that involved women that were carriers of hemophilia. During these focus groups we had the opportunity to chat with women who were experiencing menorrhagia – heavy menstrual bleeding – that was quite drastically compromising their quality of life. They had lived most of their lives without actually knowing about their diagnosis and it wasn’t until much later that they had found out about this and were able to seek treatment. Listening to these women talk about their experiences really struck a chord with me, and I felt that this education issue, this lack of awareness about causes of menorrhagia and bleeding disorders that can impact quality of life, was an opportunity to hopefully prevent people from living long periods of their life with a lower quality of life.
So the idea of Let’s Talk Period was mostly to just get people to talk about their periods
Exactly! One of the issues that we identified was that women were hesitant to talk about menstrual bleeding because of social taboos. And often the only discussions that may have happened, happened within families, and so, because bleeding disorders are inherited, people within families would often have similar experiences, and wouldn’t know that their bleeding was excessive and problematic and treatable.
What do you think of how your idea has been put into action?
I am totally blown away by how much effort and organization and progress has been made on this project. Basically, what I pictured with the Let’s Talk Period campaign in the very early stages has totally come to life, and it’s been very exciting seeing it
Originally, we had talked about having some posters to put up as a means of education. I don’t think we had even envisioned the website or any kind of social media presence at that time.
Right! The initial stages we had just discussed starting with posters. We had discussed, on the backburner, kind of as a future plan to incorporate the Self-BAT and to make something on-line, accessible and easy to use. But, even just starting with the posters and seeing that progression, that development of the concept over time, is wonderful.
We ended up using the posters mostly as a way to pitch the idea, and gauge people’s reactions and get their support, and I’m glad to see what my work on that has translated
Have you told anyone about the website? Do you know anyone who has used the site?
I haven’t spoken with people who have used the site directly, but I have seen a huge social media presence of the campaign. It has also been really well covered in the Queen’s University press, and I think it is really taking
Thanks for your insights, Malak! It’s amazing to be able to reflect on our progress from the perspective of someone who helped create the campaign.
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