A new mum has taken to Twitter to warn others to trust their gut and push for the healthcare they deserve after a symptom initially dismissed by a doctor as being caused by carrying excess weight turned out to be caused by … bone marrow cancer.
“Wanna hear a crazy story?”
Jen Curran explained that she consistently had protein in her urine during and after pregnancy but that her doctor just figured it was weight related and sent her away with a suggested treatment of diet and exercise.
Sharing the story in a Twitter thread, Jen perfectly illustrated the importance of getting a second opinion and choosing a doctor who won’t lazily write everything off to the size of your girth.
“Wanna hear a crazy story?” Jen wrote. “I’m a new mom and I had protein in my urine during and after pregnancy, which is bad. A doctor told me to ‘lose weight’ and it would go away. Didn’t want me to see me back for months. So I got a second opinion. Turns out I have bone marrow cancer.”
Jen explained that she’s in her late 30’s and has a five-month-old baby girl named Rose. The high protein in her urine resulted in a preeclampsia diagnosis. Jen was put on bed rest for three months.
“Everything stayed stable for the rest of the pregnancy,” Jen continues. “But my OB was unusually worried about the protein in my urine. It was too high to match up with my other pre-eclampsia symptoms.”
“She insisted I get checked by a kidney doctor after the baby was born. Hopefully the problem wouldn’t persist but we had to make sure. I had a pretty easy labor and our baby made it to the world no problem. A few weeks later I made an appointment with a kidney doctor.”
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Just new mum/woman stuff
Jen explains that she didn’t really do much research into this doctor, she just went to one near her home that would be covered by her health insurance. She was lugging a newborn, after all.
The fact that Jen is flagging that she didn’t seek a recommendation for a kidney doctor signals that she perhaps wishes she’d opted for a more reputable doctor from the get-go, but honestly none of this is her fault.
So at this point, the protein in Jen’s urine was the highest it had ever been, even though she’d delivered her baby several weeks before.
“But the doc wasn’t concerned. ‘It can take up to a year for things to return to normal after pregnancy.’ I didn’t like that answer. It didn’t seem typical for my body.”
Jen notes that she felt that she was recovering from her birth in lots of ways and it didn’t feel right that this protein was still hanging around. But her doctor decided it must be … weight related. If she was less plump she’d feel better, her doctor figured …
“The doctor blinked at my lab results. ‘Can you start dieting and exercising? Try to lose some weight?’ Hmm. Interesting. I was familiar with this move by a medical professional. The old ‘lose weight’ diagnosis.”
A life-saving second opinion
None of this sat well with Jen because she is not an idiot and also because she already knew how to manage her weight and eat healthily … she’d just decided not to obsess over it. And look she’d just had a baby for christ’s sake.
The doctor, however, found the weight ‘issue’ an easy default diagnosis and handballed Jen’s high pee protein right back at her.
“Finally I decided to get a second opinion about this protein which would supposedly disappear with weight loss. This time I got a recommendation for a kidney doctor from my OB (the one who was first concerned about the protein.)”
Best move ever.
Wanna hear a crazy story? I’m a new mom & I had protein in my urine during and after pregnancy, which is bad. A doctor told me to “lose weight” & it would go away. Didn’t want me to see me back for months. So I got a second opinion. Turns out I have bone marrow cancer. THREAD: 1/
— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
“The NEW kidney doctor took one look at my lab tests and said, ‘This is not good. And there’s nothing diet or exercise can do to touch it.’ I was surprised BUT ALSO NOT. She was clearly concerned. She told me we needed to biopsy my kidneys. And I hoped for the best.”
A kidney biopsy followed. And then a bone marrow biopsy. Jen says she doesn’t recommend either procedure. “Unsubscribe!”
“The bone marrow biopsy came back and I have multiple myeloma! Bone marrow cancer,” she writes.
“Shocking. Gut wrenching. I have a 5 month old baby. I’m not even 40 years old. I’m not even caught up on Big Little Lies.”
“I’m comin’ for you cancer”
Jen stresses that prior to the bone marrow biopsy, the only symptom of her cancer was the high protein in her urine (which had been put down to pre-eclampsia before the baby was born, and plumpness after).
“No other tests came back abnormal. I wasn’t and still am not feeling unwell. They barely found it. If I hadn’t had the baby, they wouldn’t have found it until it was possibly way too late.”
Other women on Twitter said they felt their own health challenges were not investigated by doctors who seem very keen to pin all ills on weight.
“I avoid seeing a doctor at all costs because I’m overweight so I know whatever complaint will get blamed on that,” one wrote.
“I’ve been going to my GP about my illnesses for a year now and keep getting told to lose weight and ‘what do you expect you have a 2 year old?'” another wrote. “I’m losing the will to keep challenging them that my illnesses are NOT because I’m fat!”
“I kept telling them something was wrong,” one woman who was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumour wrote, “that I was exercising 5+ time/week & counting every calorie & kept getting told to lose weight. I began bringing my husband to appointments with me as a witness.”
Jen’s now undergoing chemotherapy with the same excellent attitude displayed in her tweets.
“Today. Is. CHEMO DAY!” she posted on day one. “I’m kind of excited. I’m comin’ for you, cancer. I’m gonna wear bright lipstick.”
Go get it Jen. Kick it hard in the crotch.
You can help Jen’s family with the immense financial pressures that a chronic illness and associated treatment can put on a family by hitting up her Go Fund Me account.
This might be one of the most important threads around the deadliness of fat-phobia. Thank you @jencurran for writing about it, and I’m so sorry your doctor is such a fuck-nut. I hope you’re ok. ❤️ https://t.co/qHz7HREaEV
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) August 13, 2019