On Sunday, October 16, We Love Soaps confirmed that during that night's episode of DIRTY SOAP, it was revealed that Kirsten Storms was suffering with endometriosis. Storms was recast as Maxie on GENERAL HOSPITAL, but for months, it looked as though she would eventually return—possibly in February — with Storms herself tweeting (on December 12, 2011), "I hope everyone is having a great holiday season w/the ones they love... fingers crossed you'll see more of me after the New Year!! ;)"
Sadly, in January, a rep for GH instead confirmed that "Jen Lilley will continue to play Maxie Jones for the foreseeable future."
Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. The Mayo Clinic states that there is no known cure, but there are treatments which can help relieve the symptoms and improve the quality of life. One such treatment involves the use of prescription birth control medication.
According to the Clinic, “Supplemental hormones are sometimes effective in reducing or eliminating the pain of endometriosis. That's because the rise and fall of hormones during a woman's menstrual cycle causes endometrial implants to thicken, break down and bleed. Hormonal contraceptives — birth control pills, patches and vaginal rings — help control the hormones responsible for the buildup of endometrial tissue each month.”
Which brings us, in a sense, to Rush Limbaugh et al. Endometriosis has been cited repeatedly in the past few days as a condition for which drugs usually prescribed optionally, for birth control, can be medically necessary — thus mooting much of the discussion about provider choice. We Love Soaps has seen an increase this week in the number of readers looking for information on Storms and her condition.
All in all, since October, hundreds of thousands of fans have visited in order to share their affection, advice, and prayers. Many offer emotional endometriosis stories of their own, helping us to better understand Kirsten's situation.
“I feel so bad for Kirsten, I also suffer from Endometriosis. I had a full hysterectomy three years ago at the age of 29 and I still had pain and issues from my endo. It is a terrible disease I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. My thoughts and prayers are with Kirsten,” reads a typical message.
One fan recognized the symptoms immediately, writing, “When I saw Kirsten walking around, slightly hunched, somewhat zombie-like and clutching a heating pad, my first thought was that she has endometriosis. I was not at ALL surprised when Tiffany said that is what she has. I have it, and before I was diagnosed I acted almost the exact same way. Stay strong Kirsten, after treatment, I feel better than I have in years.”
Some messages speak specifically to the issue of hormonal treatments. One young woman writes, “to all the people who are condemning her for taking a leave of absence because 'it's not that serious,' endometriosis can be mild or severe. My case is mild and can be treated with a special form of birth control. Before I started taking the birth control, I would have to take a couple of days off work every month, because the pain was so severe, I couldn't stand up. I've been lucky, so far, that it can be treated so easily, and I no longer have to miss work. Kirsten may have had to have a hysterectomy, either partial or full, which is a 6-8 week recovery, which would explain her longer absence.”
Some of the more personal accounts are undeniably frightening, in addition to being supportive and informative. One brave woman writes, “I had a laparoscopy nine years ago and it was a battle then, for me, even though my endometriosis was stage two. I could barely walk before my surgery. Six years later, on my birthday, I collapsed and the doctors found a giant mass in my colon. They thought I was a goner; thankfully, it wasn't cancer. But, turns out the endometriosis was metastatic.
“Yes, people, it can spread like a cancer to other organs beyond the reproductive ones. I had to have a laparotomy and it was so painful. The doctors predicted a long recovery and while it was tough... I prayed and willed myself to not take a huge leave of absence. But, that came at a great physical cost. Good for Kirsten for taking time off. It's needed. I am now in remission, so to speak. By the grace of God, I still have all my vital and reproductive organs (well, they did have to cut into my colon and small intestine, then reattach).
If it weren't for my faith in Christ... it probably would have been worse. I believe the way we think, dictates the course of our lives. Therefore, I am believing for total healing for Kirsten.”
Kirsten posted the self-portrait, above, in January. About a week ago, she tweeted, “When it rains it pours! Don't forget, even when I feel like ? I still luv you guys!! Thanks for all the sweet messages." It's hard for us to know what that means, exactly. For now, all we can do is wait, hope and pray.
Please get well, Kirsten. We miss you!
- DIRTY SOAP REVELATION: Kirsten Storms is Sick, Illness is Called "Endometriosis" (Recasting as Maxie on GENERAL HOSPITAL Explained)
- Kirsten Storms: 'Fingers crossed you'll see more of me after the New Year!'
- Kirsten Storms On Her Way Back To GENERAL HOSPITAL; On Air Late February
- GENERAL HOSPITAL's Jen Lilley: Because of unforeseen circumstances, I am staying as Maxie
- Most Fascinating People of 2011 (Kirsten Storms makes the list)
- NOMINATIONS: 3rd Annual Indie Soap Awards (Bradford Anderson nominated)