Lexie Steven­son (Mad­die)

THE YOUNG & THE REST­LESS’ Lexie Steven­son (Mat­tie) is try­ing to el­e­vate aware­ness of a de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­ease

ABC Soaps In Depth - - Contents -

In 2012, THE YOUNG & THE REST- LESS’ Lexie Steven­son (Mat­tie) was in and out of ERs with ag­o­niz­ing ab­dom­i­nal cramps. Four years later, the beauty was fi­nally di­ag­nosed with en­dometrio­sis — an in­cur­able dis­ease that causes the tis­sue inside the uterus to be­gin to grow out­side that or­gan. Soaps In Depth re­cently spoke with her about liv­ing with the dis­ease, as well as her de­ter­mi­na­tion to in­form the pub­lic about it.

— Julie McEl­wain

Soaps In Depth: Why did it take so long for you to be di­ag­nosed with en­dometrio­sis?

Lexie Steven­son: For over 70 per­cent of women, it usu­ally takes [doc­tors] four to six years to di­ag­nose the dis­ease. For me, when I would go to the ER, they would ask my par­ents if I was un­der stress. Some­times they thought it

might be gas burn­ing the lin­ing of my stom­ach. But more than once, my par­ents were asked if I was get­ting enough at­ten­tion at home.

In Depth: So they thought the pain was in your imag­i­na­tion?

Steven­son: Yes, that’s ex­actly it. Es­sen­tially, they just didn’t know. Be­cause of lack of aware­ness for the dis­ease, they dis­missed what I was go­ing through.

In Depth: What hap­pened to fi­nally change that mind­set?

Steven­son: One night I was at my boyfriend’s house, and I was on the floor scream­ing. The pain was un­like any­thing that I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced. It was just aw­ful! What hap­pens is that en­dometrio­sis can cause liq­uid-like cysts on your ovaries. I had two on each ovary, and they rup­tured at the same time. I went to the ER. I’d had ul­tra­sounds done be­fore, but they had all been on the out­side, and not in­ter­nal. They fi­nally did

an in­ter­nal one and saw a growth that looked like en­dometrio­sis. They also found another growth that didn’t have any fluid in it — it was just tis­sue. So they wanted to make sure that it wasn’t can­cer­ous. I was sent to a spe­cial­ist who wanted to re­move the growth. He found a lot of en­dometrio­sis. He also found that a golf-ball-sized piece of in­tes­tine had been pinched off be­cause of the en­dometrio­sis. It was es­sen­tially float­ing there, but my body had healed it­self, which is kind of cool!

In Depth: Is there any­thing you can do when you are di­ag­nosed with this dis­ease?

Steven­son: There is no cure for en­dometrio­sis, but I’ve been try­ing to fig­ure out ways to man­age the pain. I was in­volved in sports, and that can help with the pain. I’ve tried cut­ting out gluten in my diet, which seems to help. About 70 to 80 per­cent of women with en­dometrio­sis go

gluten-free. It works for a lot of them to re­duce the pain. I’ve also limited my soy in­take. Red meat and dairy don’t bother me specif­i­cally, but I heard that it can bother other women. I’ve been go­ing through a trial-and-er­ror process. An anti-in­flam­ma­tory diet can help. And re­ally hot heat packs help by [re­lax­ing] the mus­cles in my stom­ach.

In Depth: Are there dif­fer­ent de­grees of en­dometrio­sis?

Steven­son: There are Stages 1 through 5. If you have Stage 5, you have en­dometrio­sis all over your pelvis area. I think I was a Stage 4. You can get it re­moved sur­gi­cally, but it of­ten grows back, some­times worse.

In Depth: You’ve gone pub­lic about hav­ing this dis­ease by blog­ging about it. Was that a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make?

Steven­son: It’s a per­sonal is­sue, so some thought went into it be­fore I shared it. I wanted to do re­search and get my facts straight. But I thought if some­body reads it, and I can help one per­son, then that’s what I wanted to do. There are so many peo­ple who have no idea that they have this dis­ease.

In Depth: What is the one thing you want to ed­u­cate the pub­lic on?

Steven­son: It re­ally is aware­ness. When some­body says they are in pain, they prob­a­bly are. I wish my case had been taken more se­ri­ously, be­cause it would have saved me [from thinking it’s only in my head].

Steven­son says she’s in­spired by ac­tress/singer Zen­daya. “I re­ally look up to her. She’s an ac­tivist in all ar­eas — for the LGBQT com­mu­nity, the black com­mu­nity, and she’s a fem­i­nist. Not to men­tion, she’s an amaz­ing ac­tress!”

If she could work with one per­son on Y&R, Steven­son says she’d love to have scenes with Gina Tognoni (Phyl­lis). “She is such a crazy good, funny ac­tress! I love her en­ergy. I re­ally like watch­ing her. She’s in­cred­i­ble!”

Upon meet­ing her Y&R mother, Chris­tel Khalil (Lily), “I thought she was young!” re­calls Steven­son with a laugh. “But she’s amaz­ing. I re­ally like to talk to her out­side of film­ing. I al­ways ask for her ad­vice on a mil­lion things!”

“Daniel [God­dard, Cane] is my TV dad, but he’s also like my dad in real life,” the Y&R in­genue smiles. “I ab­so­lutely love him with my whole heart! He’s al­ways fun to talk to, and su­per funny. He’s al­ways there for me!”

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