ACC Messed with the Wrong Person

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I was a student teaching as a second-semester senior at Mercyhurst University when everything changed. 

I had a meeting and dinner with a handful of friends, everyone was socially distanced with masks. But unfortunately one of the people had a roommate that tested COVID positive, so I got expanded precautions at school and couldn’t student-teach for the rest of the week. By the end of that week, I started feeling flu-like symptoms (sore throat, stuffy and runny nose, chest pressure, fatigue, nausea, minor fever) which got me a COVID test and placed in quarantine.

After a negative test result, I still needed another COVID test to teach. I went to the only place I could go get one quickly with my insurance and got a strep test too. They released me with a BP of 185/155 and some nausea meds. Both tests were negative, but I was still placed in quarantine again for one night. My Dad came to pick me up and take me to be seen in person by my PCP to find out what was going on. 

Since my symptoms were similar to COVID symptoms, I couldn’t go see my pediatrician. Plus I had high blood pressure, which is more of an adult issue, so they suggested I get a new PCP. After a variety of more testing, I ended up in the ER again due to the symptoms and a new symptom of a headache. Again they released me with a high BP and some nausea meds. 

That week, I went to a cardiologist to see what she thought of the high BP. She connected me with a new and fantastic PCP who tried the rest of the tests she thought would give us some clue to what was going on, who tried to treat my symptoms. That weekend I went to the ER again, with a new symptom of a pain in my right side. They did a CT and found a 7.1 cm adrenal tumor that probably has been growing there for 5+ years….which explains some unanswered health issues that now make sense! 

I have an Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma that was surgically removed about a month after they found it, and now I am currently on an oral chemo regimen that starts low and increases weekly. This affects one in every million people. It is considered a rare disease or orphan cancer due to how rare it is! There are no specialists for Adrenal Cancer in Pittsburgh, but I am currently a patient of some of the greatest experts in Adrenal Cancer in the world.

I feel so blessed that those doctors found this. I’ve been told when they only find this rare cancer in two ways:

  1. Incidentally on a CT (like me)
  2. On an autopsy report

I like my option! I know that I have a great support system of family and friends as well as God with me! If God is with me,  who or what can be against me? I am strong and ready to fight! Cancer messed with the wrong girl!

By Lauren Rogus

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