Lexie Stevenson is the lead actress in a movie scheduled to air on Lifetime and Amazon Prime in a few months. Still untitled, the picture is based on The Tinder Swindler Netflix documentary. Producers cranked out the filming in three weeks last month, making for some long days, especially for Stevenson when her endometriosis symptoms flared.
“I had an amazing crew and a lot of fun, but I had a few really hard days on set when I got my period. My cramps were through the roof, and the endo attacks prior to it were bad,” said Stevenson, who relied on heat packs and medication to get her through. “It was uncomfortable, but you suck it up and do what you’ve got to do.”
Stevenson was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 2019 for her role as Mattie Ashby on The Young and the Restless. She became an EndoFound advisory board member that same year and was recently named board chair. She will share her endometriosis story at EndoFound’s Patient Day on March 19 at Lennox Hill Hospital in New York City and attend the 11th Annual Blossom Ball at Cipriani 42nd Street the following evening.
Stevenson, 24, got her first period when she was 11, which came with “insanely painful” cramps that worsened each month. Over the next several years, doctors misdiagnosed her with acid reflux, appendicitis, and constipation. One doctor asked if she was getting enough attention at home, suggesting the pain was in her mind. She struggled to get through the school day. ER visits became commonplace.
Though Stevenson’s mother, Catherine, had endometriosis and thought her daughter had it, no doctor agreed with her until Stevenson was 17. The one who finally listened ordered an ultrasound, which revealed Stevenson had three ruptured cysts and a growth on one of her ovaries. She underwent an eight-hour surgery that included removing part of one of her intestines entangled in the disease.
Stevenson felt good for two to three years after surgery before the pain returned. Since then, she’s found ways to work through the symptoms as she contemplates another surgery.
“I’ve started pelvic floor therapy, which has been super helpful, as well as exercising and getting a nutritionist to figure out what’s good for me and what’s not,” she said.
She doesn’t reveal her disease when she auditions because she doesn’t want it to affect her chances of getting roles.
“But once I get a job, everybody is so nice about it,” Stevenson said. “I’ll just say, ‘Hey, I have endometriosis. Can we keep heat packs on the side in case I need them in a scene?’ And they’ll bring them over to me and we can keep pushing.”
Stevenson said the increased public awareness of the disease in recent years has helped her in her journey.
“I used to bring up endometriosis when I was growing up and nobody knew what it was—like it was a foreign language,” she said. “Now when I talk about it, people know what it is more times than not.”
Stevenson wants to keep that momentum going as EndoFound’s advisory board chair.
“I want to make sure we’re brainstorming as much as we possibly can to get the awareness out there,” she said. “One thing we’re working on now is a school initiative to get an endometriosis-specific course in health classes so that younger women don’t have to go through what many of us have gone through to get diagnosed.”
She also hopes to start a west coast Blossom Ball.
“So many of us who support the foundation live here in LA,” she said. “If I can start one out here, we’ll be able to bring in more people and hopefully more donations, more fundraising, and get the awareness out to those celebrities who don’t know about the foundation or the disease.”
Stevenson will be one of more than two dozen speakers at Patient Day, a two-day event on March 18 and 19. To purchase tickets, visit www.endofound.org/patientday. For tickets to the 11th Annual Blossom Ball on Monday, March 20, visit www.endofound.org/blossomball