'My doctors brushed it off as bloating': Woman, 26, who told her doctors about abdominal pain for 9 years finally diagnosed with ovarian cancer - with a melon-sized tumor

March 14, 2019  14:16

For nine years, Amanda Kabbabe felt sharp stomach pains.

The 24-year-old, from Hoboken, New Jersey, visited three primary-care physicians and four gynecologists, but they all dismissed her concerns.

They told her she was bloated and that she just needed to eat more lean protein and fewer carbs to feel better.

But Kabbabe, who is active and into fitness, has always been conscious about her diet. No matter how careful she was, she still felt an ache she described as 'somewhere between a period cramp and stabbing sensation'.

At the end of October 2017, Kabbabe finally went to the emergency room after being forced to take the day off work because her whole body was radiating with stabbing, cramp-like pain.

A few weeks later, after several scans, she was finally diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In fact, her tumor was roughly the size of a honeydew melon.

In a first-person account for Cosmopolitan, Kabbabe, now 26, describes the frustration at being brushed off by several doctors, learning to forgive the healthcare professionals that missed her tumor and the importance of being your own advocate.

Looking back, Kabbabe, a producer for Hearst, says she can now see that the symptoms she mentioned to her doctors routinely were all symptoms of ovarian cancer.

But like many young ovarian cancer sufferers, who have a much lower risk of developing the disease, she was given a myriad of other possible explanations for her extreme thirst, fatigue and bloating - mainly all diet-related.

Eventually, she describes, she developed utter disdain for doctors, rolling her eyes at any suggestion she seek medical advice for her mysterious ailments.

Her diagnosis came in 2017, when she scheduled an appointment with a new gynecologist while her regular one was away.

It was this new doctor who found she had high levels of certain cancer antigens, proteins and enzymes that revealed a cancerous tumor in her right ovary.

Kabbabe went to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where doctors diagnosed her with a malignant ovarian germ cell tumor, when cancer forms in the egg cells of the ovary.

According to the American Cancer Society, only two to three percent of all ovarian cancers are germ cell tumors.

'I don't know if I was numb or relieved to finally have a definitive answer, but I didn't cry,' Kabbabe wrote.

'For the first time in my life, a doctor took me seriously and found an answer rather than dismissing me. I was obviously devastated and afraid, but I also felt every concern I ever had was validated.

'I wanted to tell every doctor who blew me off: "F**k you".'

Kabbabe was also angry with her former gynecologist, who had told her that her pain was from her diet.

'I decided to write my former [gynecologist] a letter explaining everything that went down after I switched doctors,' Kabbabe wrote.

'I told her that my tumor was, despite what her team told me, 100 percent cancerous and suggested they work on their bedside manner.

'She wrote back with no apology, ending her note with: "I wish you all the best".'

Kabbabe had surgery in November 2017 at Memorial Sloan Kettering to remove her tumor, her right ovary and her right Fallopian tube.

The tumor was the size of a honeydew melon and measured seven inches wide.

'I was shocked that none of my doctors had caught this,' she wrote in Cosmopolitan.

'The tumor was giant, and my gynecologist never even bothered to touch my stomach when I complained of pain.'

A week-and-a-half later, test results came back that showed her tumor was stage 1A grade 3. This meant the cancer had not spread but, if it did, it would do so quickly.

Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women and accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

Most women diagnosed are over the age of 50 or postmenopausal women.

Ovarian cancer has been called the 'silent killer' because it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when it has already spread to other parts of the body.

About 80 percent of cases re diagnosed in the advanced stages, but if caught early on, a woman has a more than 90 percent chance of long-term survival.

Doctors immediately placed Kabbabe on three rounds of aggressive chemotherapy that was each three weeks long to make sure any hidden cancer cells would be killed.

'During that time, I felt like I had the worst hangover of my life times 10,' she wrote in Cosmopolitan.

'I didn't want cancer to completely take over my life, so I kept working through my last cycle before I went on medical leave.'

She said as she neared the end of her chemotherapy treatment, she began to finally let go of resentment she held for all the healthcare professionals who has missed her tumor.

'Cancer had taken a physical and emotional toll on me, and I couldn't let obsessing over the past consume me too,' she wrote.

'All I cared about was getting better and notifying the doctors of what they missed. I didn't want them making the same mistake again with someone else.'

Last month, Kabbabe celebrated one year of being in remission and says she feels like she has some control of her life back.

In a recent Instagram post, she said she want to share her story in the hopes of encouraging others to be their own advocate.

'Anyone else [should] never made to feel like a crazy person for following up on what they believe is true in their gut,' she wrote.

'It's better to take the extra step and advocate for yourself than it is to leave your health in someone else's hands.'

Source: The Daily Mail

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