I’ve always been a healthy and active person. I took pride in taking care of my body, and I worked hard as a hairdresser and personal trainer. I was used to a busy lifestyle, but I started feeling very tired and noticed bloating in my stomach. I thought the symptoms would resolve on their own, but over the next few weeks I became increasingly lethargic and started experiencing pain in my lower abdomen. When I shared these symptoms with my doctor, he said it sounded like a bladder infection and sent me home with a prescription. I had a bladder infection in the past and I knew that these symptoms were different, but I trusted the doctor and took the prescription. Two weeks went by and nothing had changed, so I went back to the doctor. He told me that it was an ovarian cyst, which was “nothing to worry about.” Again, I trusted his opinion and tried to ignore the fatigue and pain.
At my job as a personal trainer, everyone was complimenting me on my weight loss—even though I hadn’t been dieting. I thought my body was finally behaving after years of conditioning, but as the abdominal pain continued my coworker suggested I see her doctor. At that appointment, the doctor did a manual exam and a visual topical ultrasound. The scan revealed a mass, but the doctor said that based on the size it was likely a fibroid and should shrink on its own. I asked what to do next, and the doctor suggested I make an appointment for a few months later to check on it again.
At my follow-up appointment four months later, the doctor did another ultrasound. We were chatting while he was looking at the screen when he suddenly stopped talking mid-sentence. The doctor told me that the mass looked bigger, and sent me downstairs for an internal ultrasound to get a better look. Those test results confirmed that the tumor had grown, and the doctor referred me to a surgeon to have it removed. During the surgery, they discovered that the mass was in fact cancerous. Over time, pieces of the tumor had spread to other parts of my abdomen. The surgeon did a full hysterectomy and was able to remove most of the pieces, but I also did four months of chemotherapy to treat any microscopic cancer cells that might be left.
Now, I am back to my active lifestyle and pay even more attention to my body. After three misdiagnoses, the cancer had progressed so far that I needed major surgery and chemotherapy to treat it. The subtle symptoms of fatigue, bloating, and weight loss were my body trying to tell me something. My advice to others is to remember that you know yourself better than anyone else! Listen to your gut, be your own advocate, and fight for yourself to be heard.
- pain in abdomen
- unexplained weight loss