Stephanie Rodas, 28, has battled with anorexia since she was 13.
Over the course of 16 years, she has teetered on the edge of viability, at one point dropping to a life-threatening 55lbs.
And despite being sent to countless clinics and hospitals by her family, she always ate just enough to be discharged and relapse.
Now, seven months after a near-fatal encounter with some painkillers, the New Yorker is appearing on syndicated daytime TV show The Doctors to undergo a series of heart tests, blood tests and ultrasounds to find out how the disease has crippled her body.
In this extract, shared exclusively with Daily Mail Online ahead of Monday’s episode, Stephanie weeps as she asks the experts for help to recover from the disease which has been the norm for most of her life.
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Seeking help: Stephanie Rodas, 28, has been suffering from anorexia since she was 13
Painful journey: At Stephanie’s lowest point she was 55lbs (pictured, left), she tells The Doctors (pictured, right, on the show)
‘I can have as little as 100 calories a day… I will spend 10 hours exercising,’ she admits to hosts Nita Landry and Dr Sonia Batra.
It was not always the case.
During Stephanie’s childhood she was overweight, she told the hosts. But as she hit her teens, she became the target of merciless bullying.
‘When I was 13 I felt very hideous. I was overweight and kids would say things like “fatso” and everyone in the lunch room would throw food at me,’ she says.
Over the years, her family – with whom she has always been close – started to worry about her shrinking frame. At 17, they sent her to a clinic in New Jersey.
But rather than cure her, it fueled her addiction to the disease.
‘They took me to a treatment center. I picked up more tips and tricks from the girls there and it started a cycle of being in and out of treatment centers for years,’ she told Landry and Batra.
Eventually, at the age of 23, Stephanie tried to break herself out of it. She tried yoga, meeting with nutritionists and holistic medics. But she couldn’t do it.
After 16 years battling the disease, Stephanie said she wants to find a way to heal
Janete, Stephanie’s sister, said they spent three days fearing she would die in hospital
In February, her sister Janete found her unconscious in her apartment, having taken an unspecified amount of painkillers.
She was rushed to her local hospital, where doctors said it didn’t look good.
‘For about three days we didn’t know if she would wake up,’ Janete told the show.
Recounting the ordeal on the show, Stephanie wept, begging for help, saying: ‘There has to be a way to heal.’
Dr Landry, the resident OB/GYN on The Doctors, asked Stephanie: ‘I want to know, when you look into the mirror, what do you see?’
Stephanie weeps: ‘It’s not the food, it’s not the appearance, it’s more about how I feel and what that brings up for me. I’ve never been able to feel like I can have closure and move through that.
Stephanie weeps as she asks the experts for help to recover from the disease which has been the norm for most of her life. Pictured: on the show, which will air on Monday
‘So the image… I guess smaller felt safe because it reflected more how dead I already felt inside.’
On The Doctors episode on Monday, viewers will watch as Stephanie undergoes a battery of tests.
First, she will get an ultrasound and bloodwork with gastroenterologist Dr Su Sachar, to assess her metabolic health.
She then undergoes an EKG and echocardiogram with cardiologist Dr. Leonard Scuderi, to measure the rhythmic behaviors of her heart and to check the state of her heart’s structure.
- Visit The Doctors website or check local listings to see when the show airs in your city