Top Chef's Lakshmi details struggle with illness

Top Chef's Lakshmi details struggle with illness

Lakshmi [along with Dr. Seckin] has become the driving force behind the Endometriosis Foundation of America, which together with researchers at MIT, is pushing to develop new treatments for the illness.



Cookbook author Padma Lakshmi is hoping to raise awareness and help tens of millions of women who suffer from endometriosis, a painful illness that can cause infertility.

The 39-year-old model and host of reality cooking show "Top Chef," who is pregnant with her first child, has been talking about her two-decade struggle with the disorder, in which tissue that normally lines the uterus migrates to other parts of the body, causing pain and swelling.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she said her decision to go public with her struggle was prompted by a desire to help young women avoid the suffering she has experienced.

"I remember school dances that I didn't go to, mid-terms I failed and family occasions that I missed," she said. "Only now do I realize how much of my life was mangled and distorted by this illness."

Lakshmi has become the driving force behind the Endometriosis Foundation of America, which together with researchers at MIT, is pushing to develop new treatments for the illness.

Linda Griffith, professor of biochemical engineering at MIT and former recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," has raised $10 million in public and private grants for the new Center for Gynepathology Research to study the illness.

Griffith, who also suffers from endometriosis, which is believed to be a chronic inflammatory condition, said little is known about the illness that affects up to 90 million women worldwide.


Surgery is often required to remove scar tissue that can attach itself to the ovaries, bowels and lining of the abdominal cavity.

"It's like roots in a garden, with the womb being the garden," Lakshmi said. "Endometriosis attaches itself like weeds. You have to clean under the rocks and behind the fence and through the trees and get every last bit of it out."

Lakshmi, clad in a black designer mini-dress, captivated the crowd of MIT students and faculty by relating her story with a mixture of passion and humor.

After multiple surgeries for the condition she is now in the second trimester of her pregnancy and is due to give birth early in 2010.

Griffith said awareness of endometriosis is in its infancy, similar to where breast cancer stood in the early 1970s.

At that time, Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford, was credited with breaking down taboos when she went public with news of her mastectomy in 1974.

Lakshmi hopes other celebrity sufferers, who include comedian Whoopi Goldberg, will lend their weight to her campaign by continuing to speak out publicly.

"I guard my privacy closely, and it seems contradictory when I'm standing here, talking about my period," she said. "But you always have to remember the greater goal. What's more important -- my privacy, or the lives of women? I chose the latter."

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'Top Chef''s Padma Lakshmi Gets Personal for a Cause
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Actress Padma Lakshmi comes to MIT to raise awareness of endometriosis and help launch the new Center for Gynepathology.
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  • Megan Rafael Moreno

    I was in pain for 2 years. I was getting no answers, and because dr Goldstein and dr seckins were willing to see and treat me I'm finally feeling almost back to normal. They were very down to earth and helpful in my time of need. Dr Goldstein was easy to talk to and caring, she took care of me…

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    Dr. Seckin is one of the best endometriosis surgeon. Every time I go to the office, he really listens to me and is always concerned about my issues. Dr Seckin's office staff are a delight and they always work with me. I feel I can leave everything to them and they will take care of it. Thank you to the…

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    I had a wonderful experience working with Dr. Seckin and his team before, during and after my surgery. I came to Dr. Seckin having already had laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis 5 years prior, with a different surgeon. My symptoms and pain had returned, making my life truly challenging and my menstrual cycle unbearable. Dr. Seckin was quick to validate my…

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    I came to Dr. Seckin after years of dealing with endometriosis and doctors who didn't fully understand the disease. He quickly ascertained what needed to be done, laid out the options along with his recommendation and gave me the time to make the right decision for me. My surgery went without a hitch and I'm healing very well. He and…

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    Dr. Seckin brought me back to life! I am now 3 weeks into my recovery after my laparoscopy surgery, and I feel like a new and improved woman! Being diagnosed with Endometriosis, then 25yrs old in 2015, and discovering the severity of my case being stage 4, made me devastated. Dr. Seckin's vast knowledge of the disease, sincere empathy, and…

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    My wife had her laparoscopic excision surgery to remove endometriosis with Dr. Seckin on Jan 30, 2014. She doesn't write online reviews so I'm writing this on her behalf. I accompanied her with each office visit she had. The staff--Lucy and Kim, are very friendly, warm and professional. Dr. Seckin was excellent in every capacity. He spent a lot of…

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  • Karen N

    I was diagnosed with Endometriosis at 19. I saw several Endometriosis "Specialists" since then, had a few laproscopic surgeries to "remove" the endometriosis and continued to be in pain. I had a hysterectomy in 2012 and was told this would stop the pain once and for all. No such luck! Tired of spending days in bed with a heating pad,…

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