The following post is from mesothelioma survivor, Jodi Page, and is part of an ongoing series that details survivor stories.
Young and Healthy?
I moved to Minneapolis, MN in April of 1999. Being a healthy 26 year old, getting a primary care physician wasn’t a high priority on my list of things to do. In October of that same year I developed what I thought was a cold. It was the type of cold that takes a hold of you and doesn’t want to let go. I just wanted it to go away. Finally, I’d had enough and went to the Urgent Care, an Emergency Room near my apartment building. I was given a full work up and got a chest X-ray taken. I was told that I had fluid in my left lung and was in the beginning stages of pneumonia. They gave me some antibiotics and told to get plenty of rest.
I couldn’t believe I had fluid in my lung and had gotten pneumonia. The occasional cold and a few broken bones was the most sick I’d ever been. This worried me, so I made sure to do what the doctor told me. A few days after all the antibiotics were taken in November I started noticing my symptoms returning. The stuffy nose, the constant sneezing, the coughing that shakes your whole body and a fever. Along with these symptoms I also noticed pain in my chest and was having some difficulty breathing. I knew this wasn’t good, and I needed to go see a doctor.
I thought about going back to Urgent Care, but it didn’t feel right. I didn’t need a quick fix. I needed to know what was going on. I knew that there was something really wrong with me, and I needed to find out what it was. I had this nagging feeling that I needed to find a physician and see them immediately. I didn’t think about it, I just did it. I contacted a doctor and got the earliest appointment possible.
At the doctors office they ordered blood work and a chest X-ray. The doctor informed me that the pneumonia had returned, and I was anemic. He also explained, when looking at my chest x-ray taken that day, he noticed something that wasn’t in the X-ray from Urgent Care. There was an odd discoloration on my top left lung, which is unusual with pneumonia because the discoloration is normally on the bottom of the lungs. He wanted to do more testing to find out what it was. After several CAT Scans, seeing a specialist and getting a needle biopsy, I was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma.
The Plaguing Questions
I have often wondered what would have happened if I had just went back to Urgent Care the second time. What if the X-ray technician had turned me a fraction of an inch another way, would the discoloration have shown up? What if I hadn’t noticed the changes in my body when the symptoms returned? What would have happened if I had ignored that nagging feeling that I needed to find a physician? Would things have turned out different? Would I have gotten the help I needed? Would I be alive 14 years later? I don’t know what the answers to those questions are, and I’m glad I don’t have to find out.
My Challenge to You
Don’t ignore the nagging feelings about your health. If something doesn’t feel right, get it checked. Don’t wait or put it off. I did something then and there that saved my life. It started out as simple as a cold and turned into pneumonia not once, but twice in a two-month period. Paying attention to the symptoms I was experiencing and knowing my body was key to my survival.
It’s amazing how one decision can change the course of your life. Some call it divine intervention while others call it luck. I believe it is a little of both.