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Recipe for Success: Padma Lakshmi

The Top Chef host dishes on food, fame, and her struggles with endometriosis -- plus she shares two delectable recipes.

Getting to an Endometriosis Diagnosis continued...

"She said to me, 'Why am I being diagnosed this late?' She'd gone from doctor to doctor at some of the best hospitals in the United States. She rewound her history and realized she could have been diagnosed much earlier." And had her condition been identified more promptly, says Seckin, she would have been spared years of agony. Not to mention major surgery.

The longer endometriosis goes unchecked, the harder it can be to treat and the more it can damage the body. Lakshmi's first surgery in 2006 to remove the wayward tissue took four and a half hours.

"I had stitches in three major organs and was bedridden from Thanksgiving to February 1," she says.

Lakshmi has had three additional surgeries since and is now better able to control the pain with over-the-counter medication.

"Endometriosis is the single most delayed diagnosis in reproductive health today, taking an average of a decade," explains Seckin. "And it is the most misdiagnosed, mishandled disease."

Lakshmi knew she wanted to help prevent others from going through what she experienced. So when Seckin asked her to serve as co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, a nonprofit group focused on increasing awareness, education, research, and advocacy, signing on was a no-brainer, she says.  "Dr. Seckin literally changed my life," Lakshmi says. The respect is mutual, says Seckin. Lakshmi "needs to be given great credit for her sense of social responsibility." (For more information about the foundation, visit www.endofound.org.)

Her work doesn't stop there. In addition to helping raise awareness about this painful condition, Lakshmi volunteers with Keep a Child Alive, which helps children with AIDS in Africa and India.

The meal over, Lakshmi orders a finely filtered coffee -- Americano style -- then bids a warm goodbye as she heads back out to the New York City streets. Ahead of her are dozens more memorable meals. A new season's worth of designed-to-dazzle Top Chef fare will be served by contestants for Lakshmi and her fellow judges -- as millions of hungry viewers join in vicariously tasting every morsel.

 

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