I was bike riding the French Riviera in France when I first felt it. As I was peddling uphill, I felt something hard push against my thigh. I was in France with a beautiful view and I didn’t want to ruin the moment, so I put aside the pain and kept cycling. It took everybody else in my cycle group 40 minutes to complete the tour, but it took me one hour and a half, and by the end of it I was in agony. I knew something was wrong.
Several days into my trip, the pain started to get worse. I went to a pharmacist and asked for some pain medication. I explained my symptoms to her and she thought I had a cold and gave me strong cough medicine. Twenty Euros later and I was good to go. I eventually managed to get through my 15-day trip – heavily medicated – which helped me ignore my symptoms, but not for long.
A few months later, the pain was back but this time it was met with vomiting and migraines. I took the day off work and headed straight to the doctor who thought I had a really bad urinary tract infection.
After a few days, I could feel that the lump on my lower left side had grown, so I rushed myself to the doctor, yet again.
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This time I went in demanding answers. The first doctor I saw told me that it was just my anxiety, and my symptoms were psychosomatic. Many doctors after him said the same thing – they said it was just anxiety manifesting into real-life symptoms, and to seek counselling.
It wasn’t until one day I woke up and was covered in sweat and could barely get out of bed that I knew this was serious. The lump on my left side had grown so big that it felt and looked like I was at least three months pregnant. I was in excruciating pain – pain so bad that didn’t go away no matter how many pain killers I took. I rushed myself to the emergency.
After a six-hour wait in the emergency room, a doctor finally came to see me. The ultra-sound showed there was a 16cm mass on my lower left abdomen, which the doctors had thought was a full bladder. I was in hospital for two days and the doctors tried many different ways to forcibly empty my bladder – which did nothing as the mass was still showing up on the ultrasound.