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Between the Lines: Cancer scare turns into stressful waiting game

“You may want to consider getting these lumps removed as they might be cancerous,” my doctor suggested to me as I sat on the edge of my seat in his brightly lit examination room.

“But, I’d rather prescribe an antibiotic and have you wait it out and see me in about a month,” he said, while he scribbled some medical jargon on his clipboard.

I continued to sit there in his office, motionless and shocked beyond words.

“Could I really have cancer?” I asked myself. “It can’t be, I’m only 19 years old and I have my whole life ahead of me,” I subconsciously argued back and forth. My world began to spin just like it did the day before when I actually found the pea-sized lump on the left side of my groin.

The next day I went back to Athens and pretended like everything was OK, even though I was an absolute wreck on the inside. I decided not to say anything to anybody at first and just continued my daily routine of going to class and writing for The Post.

After a prolonged 12 days of waiting, I had a follow-up appointment. I knew the doctor wouldn’t like what I was about to tell him.

“My enlarged lymph node didn’t react at all to the antibiotic. It actually got larger and now I have two more,” I said.

My doctor then told me to see him again after I finish up the quarter for school. I couldn’t believe it. He wanted me to wait even longer and just let these lumps just hang out in my body. I didn’t have much of a choice and left his office with not only lumps in my groin, but with a lump in my throat as well.

For the next couple of weeks I kept busy and just pretended that the enlarged lymph nodes weren’t there. I was in denial. I acted like I was perfectly fine and just tried to ignore them and move on with my life at Ohio University.

For a while it actually worked, but each night as I lay in bed, my mind would race. “How would my friends react if it was cancer?” I thought. “Would people treat me differently?” I asked myself. My roommate was on the bunk above me and had no idea what I was going through. Nobody did, except for my family that was four hours away.

The day of my appointment finally came. I learned that the lumps continued to grow and I had about ten total — roughly five on each side. The doctor told me that he’d like me to have surgery to perform a biopsy in one week.

The next seven days were the slowest days of my entire life. I was sick of waiting and wanted an answer. I needed closure. I tried to spend time with my friends and family to make the time pass by, but this time I couldn’t ignore the lumps like I had done before.

Surgery day finally arrived and with me being a journalism major, I actually live-tweeted everything up until I was put under anesthetic. I thought if I would almost make a game out of it, I could keep my mind clear and stay calm. As soon as I awoke from surgery I picked up my cell phone and was right back at it.

After surgery I learned that I would have to do even more waiting because the full results of the biopsy wouldn’t be ready for a couple of days.

The day before Christmas Eve I received a phone call from my doctor. My mother picked up the telephone and listened to what my doctor had to say. She instantly started to sob hysterically. “Well, I have cancer,” I thought to myself as I watched my mom flail her arms in the air left and right while tears rolled down her cheeks.

Then she hung up the phone and hugged me. She shouted, “I’m so glad you’re OK!” in between sobs. It turns out I didn’t have cancer and my mom was waving her arms as a gesture that meant the tests were negative for lymphoma, bacteria and viruses. I still don’t know how she expected me to interpret her body language.

As I write this, my lymph nodes are still there on the left side of my groin. They are the same size as they were when I found them in October. However, there is a two-inch incision on the right side of my groin where the doctor removed some of them. The doctor told me that a stimulus must have triggered something in my body, which caused my lymph nodes to react and swell up.

Even though I am still in a little pain from my surgery and my incision gets swollen from hiking up Morton Hill, I don’t care. I am healthy and cancer-free and am so glad to be back at OU.

Brandon Carte is a freshman studying journalism and reporter for The Post. If you went through a similar experience, email him at

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