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