Science and Health

Nashville singer/songwriter shares battle with endometriosis

The chronic condition affects 1 in 10 people assigned female at birth and millions of people have it, but there’s still a lot that’s unknown.

Nashville singer/songwriter shares battle with endometriosis
Scripps News
SMS

Lexi Cummings, a singer-songwriter who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, knew something was wrong when she was just 11 years old. 

She wrote a song called "Healthy," before she was diagnosed with endometriosis — a condition that causes chronic pelvic and abdominal pain. Infertility is another common symptom. The pain can get so bad, some have reported not being able to stand or get out of bed. It's a life altering disease that often makes it hard to work a normal nine to five job. 

"I wrote healthy when I was in this place of like, 'I know something's wrong with me,'" Cummings said when talking about her unreleased song. "This song came from a place of just the pressure of what it means to be a woman and like 'am I good enough?'" 

It took several years to get diagnosed. Doctors couldn't tell her what was wrong. 

"It feels like there's a fire inside of your body," Cummings said. 

Many don't get diagnosed until later on in life. On average, it can take seven to 10 years to get diagnosed. Cummings was 22 when she finally got an answer. 

She remembers not being able to focus in school and had to quit sports because of the pain. 

"I remember sitting through a lot of classes where I just like wanted to curl into a ball and start like sobbing because I was in so much pain," Cummings said. 

Endometriosis is a full-body disease and has been found in every organ in the body. By definition, endometriosis is a disease in which cells that are somewhat similar to the lining of the uterus are found elsewhere in the body, causing pain, inflammation and organ dysfunction. 

"I was a very active kid," Cummings said. "I did a lot of sports and I just slowly found that I couldn't do it anymore." 

Endometriosis Foundation of Houston President Alison Landolt, who also has the disease, said research and funding into the disease is hard to come by. 

"Endometriosis is a very, very lonely disease where a lot of people don't understand how much it can derail your life," Landolt said. 

There's no cure, and it doesn't just happen during a person's menstrual cycle. 

Cummings, now 24, has had surgeries to help manage the pain and is leaning towards another one that will hopefully help. But even then, the treatments available don't always work and can potentially make the pain worse. She said anything, especially stress, can cause what's called an "endo flare." 

"It's almost like you have to live this really like soft padded, like no stress, no high intensity existence," Cummings said. "And that's impossible." 

During the toughest moments of her life, music was there to provide comfort. She grew up with music. Her father, Glen Cummings, was a country singer, and she and her sister would ride on his tour bus. 

"Definitely like the one thing that has just gotten me through a lot of emotional turbulence and also made me feel like I'm easier to understand," Cummings said. 

Originally from Tampa, Florida, she moved to Music City to pursue her music career. Her dream is to go on tour one day and share her music with a large audience, as well as her health journey. 

"I very much want to always be open and honest about the things that I'm going through with my health and like how I can still have my dreams and deal with my health and manage things," Cummings said. 

Cummings hopes to release her new song "Healthy" this year.