Raven (@RavenAlexis) & her Fiance’ Stephen
What symptoms did you have that originally sent you to the doctor?
All year, I had been fighting illness, in fact, a lot of people joked about it. After I left my Digital Playground contract and became a Spiegler girl, my schedule became incredibly intense. In January, I was on crutches due to a broken hip; later in the year, I broke my foot the day before filming began for my starring role in “Saturday Night Fever XXX” for Exquisite Films. Toward summer, I became more ill and very tired, but I attributed it to traveling, feature dancing, and a very crammed shooting schedule. In the month leading up to the shooting of “The Graduate XXX”, I was fighting incredible pain and illness, and spent more time at the doctors office then I did rehearsing. We knew something was wrong, but the doctors didn’t know what exactly. They finally called with the diagnosis right before the 4th of July weekend.
What was your actual diagnosis?
The first few weeks of a cancer diagnosis are very dicey; they find things, then they have to biopsy those things, then they give you a very medical sounding diagnosis. What I was officially diagnosed with in July was Stage IV metastatic inoperable liver cancer, which had metastasized to other surrounding organs. Since then, it has also spread to my brain.
How are you dealing with the pain?
The pain of cancer is unlike any other pain I’ve ever experienced. Chemotherapy is an added stress and the nausea and pain are overwhelming. There is also a unique set of setbacks that come with brain tumors, including seizures and swelling in the brain. Because of my beliefs, I have chosen to try and deal with it as naturally as possible. On chemotherapy days, they administer painkillers and anti-nausea agents along with the chemo agents. Between that and the comforting arms of Stephen, my fiance, I try to manage the pain as bravely as I can.
What is your prognosis? Can you be cured?
Any cancer is serious and life threatening, but it’s best if detected early. Unfortunately, there are four stages, and mine is the latest, so I don’t get the advantage of finding it early. I am exploring every option that I can, although the doctors are trying to focus more on palliative care at this point. Fortunately, Stephen is the most supportive person I have in my life, and miracles do happen!
What are your views of death? and the afterlife?
I am not a traditionalist – I am a spiritual person. I believe in energy, karma, and Universe. I have not once been scared of death itself, I simply feel sadness for what I will leave behind. The grandchildren I will never see, the life with Stephen that I will never get to live, and the friendships that will cease to continue on an earthly level. But I find comfort in knowing that in those same things I will continue existing; my blood will run in my grandchildren, the love between Stephen and I will continue for eternity, and my friends will carry me in their hearts forever.
What scares you most about this ordeal?
Honestly, the scariest, most heartbreaking part, is the fear that I will not get to witness my children grow up and become adults. The things that all moms cherish; sporting events, concerts, graduations, dancing with their sons at their weddings, and grandchildren. I treasure my family more than anything, and to know that I won’t be there to support and love my babies during that time, is sad to me. I just want them to be happy, wonderful people, and to know that they are surrounded with love.
What do you look forward to each day?
I look forward to the hugs and kisses of my man, Stephen. The smiles and laughs and hugs from my amazing boys. The kind and encouraging words of friends and fans. And the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve looked death in the face another day, and I’ve won.
Congratulations! So I see you are wearing a beautiful diamond bow Tiffany ring! When did you get engaged? And how did he propose?
We got engaged in Vegas, when Stephen took me for our anniversary. We are untraditional people, and I knew that while we wanted a sign of our commitment, neither of us were “proposal” types. We had both planned on giving each other a surprise, and it just so happens that we both got each other rings! He got my favorite ring of all time, a Tiffany bow ring (I love bows), and I got him a black band, I kid that it’s black, like his soul. LOL. I love that we are both wearing rings, it’s completely unique, just like us.
Tell us about Stephen:
Wow, this interview is going to be about 50 pages long! Just kidding. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I talk about him incessantly. He is unlike any man I’ve ever met. He’s physically the most gorgeous thing that I have ever laid eyes on, he just ignites a passion and a heat inside me that I have never felt before. And emotionally, he is the most caring, loyal person that I’ve ever met. During my cancer battle, he’s been here every second of every day. He literally never leaves me alone – even when he’s away from me, he’s in constant communication via text. And his relationship with my two boys is phenomenal. He’s 40 years old and never been married, and never had kids, but he completely busts the stereotype. He really is my best friend, and he completes me.
Will you be getting married soon?
At this point, I’m too sick to consider getting married. I want to eventually have the big, extravagant “diva” wedding, but for me, it’s just another motivation to get better. We originally joked about a wedding in 2015, but I think 4 years is a little long. When I get better, hopefully, I think we’d put it out a year or two. We both already feel married, I know that! Cancer is harder and more trying than most couples ever go through in their whole married life!
You were offered money to help with your bills by Naughty Swag (www.thenaughtyswag.com or @thenaughtyswag on Twitter) They were going to give you a percentage of sales from their Team Raven Alexis Shirt. But you instead decided to give that money to charity. Why?
Stephen and I both felt right away that it would be a way better option to donate our share of the proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They offer treatment to pediatric cancer patients, regardless of whether the patients have insurance or the funding to pay for treatment. With almost 10 million children in our country lacking insurance coverage, what St. Jude does is an incredible service! We really just wanted to pass it on to kids who really need treatment to help live the lives ahead of them!
You have been involved (under the radar!) with raising money for charities for a long time. Can you tell us which are nearest and dearest to your heart and why?
I am very passionate about children, and I always have been. From everything from foster children to childrens’ illness, I have a incredibly soft spot for protecting our future. One of my favorites is the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption; they provide grants to organizations all over the country, run the National Adoption Day campaign, and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, which has helped over 2,000 kids get adopted into forever homes. And obviously now, we are doing the Naughty Swag “Team Raven Alexis” t-shirt, with all of the proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which provides treatment to pediatric patients, regardless of ability to pay.
If someone would like to donate in your name to a charity, how would they do that?
First and foremost, we are doing the Naughty Swag “Team Raven Alexis” t-shirt, at www.naughtyswag.com. All of my share of the proceeds go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you’d like to donate to St. Jude without the shirt, visit www.stjude.org.
If you’d like to donate to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, please visit www.davethomasfoundation.org
I also know you like presents! You are getting a lot of them from fans & friends. What is the coolest gift you have gotten?
I am awed and humbled by the outpouring of love and support, from flowers to cards, to incredible gifts. I have pages of names to send thank you’s to, so I couldn’t possibly name them all. Little things like the phone cover and the bear, Cindi, bring such a smile to my face. Thank you! Other gifts, like the amazing Kai gift set from a very unexpected fellow Howard Stern guest, warm my heart with their kindness. I can’t pick one above the rest, because they’re all so different and special.
If someone wants to send you a gift or card, how can they do that?
I am always so flattered and appreciative when people send things. My mailing address is as follows:
PO Box 3871
Valley Village, CA. 91617
You know we are all wishing the best for you. What is your current philosophy on life?
The quote below comprises my philosophy on life, and I would just have to say, enjoy every moment of every day. When you’re dying, nothing else except for your relationships, friendships, and you. Get straight with yourself, because it’s really all you have.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson