Five years ago this week I was taken into surgery at Oregon Health Sciences University where a 6 hour procedure to remove a pheochromocytoma took place. This was a nasty tumor.
If you have a pheochromocytoma, your adrenal glands can produce too much of certain hormones, raising your blood pressure and heart rate. A pheochromocytoma may be life-threatening if unrecognized or untreated.
It took three years to diagnose my pheo. As it turns out, that jerk was growing inside me all three years that I was in seminary. A few more weeks or months and I would have suffered a stroke or heart attack and mostly likely died.
Symptoms can include:
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Forceful heartbeat
- Profound sweating
- Abdominal pain
- Sudden-onset headaches — usually severe — of varying duration
- Feeling of anxiety
- Feeling of extreme fright
- Pale skin
- Weight loss
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Good doctors and other medical professionals saved my life. Because of their dedication I still get to be a dad, a husband, a son, a brother, a uncle, a cousin, a nephew, a friend, and a pastor. My life is blessed.
If you are experiencing these symptoms and nothing else can explain them away ask your doctor about the possibility of a pheochromocytoma. The chances of having one are lower than winning the lottery but they are treatable and beatable.
As I drove up to the hospital with Liz and my mom it was this song that I listened to. I felt that the path I walked was one I never walked alone.
5 years is a big deal in the post-tumor world. Happy to be here to see it!