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Teratoma Tumor
Megean Ledbetter

Around age 11 I began to have severe joint and back pain. My mom took me to my doctor who ordered a series of X-rays. The doctor who read the X-rays said he didn't see anything wrong and that I would most likely grow out of the pain. A year later the pain in my back was worse and my mom once again took me to my doctor and demanded that I be referred to someone other than our local physicians. He referred us to an orthopedist at Children's Hospital of Birmingham. We were told to bring in the previous years X-rays. Upon arrival at the hospital, the orthopedist ordered another round of X-rays and did a series of different tests. He then left the room for a while, only to come back and ask me if I had been eating rocks. This was crazy, as I was 12 years old and knew better than to eat rocks. He then asked if I had swallowed any teeth, once again the answer was no. He then put up the newest round of X-rays, as well as the older set. He pointed out that it could clearly be seen on both sets that I had something abnormal going on. He showed us a row of 3-4 teeth, perfectly aligned, in my lower right side. This was horrifying to me and my mother, who immediately questioned him as to how and why I would have teeth anywhere other than my mouth. He proceeded to tell us that what had been golf-ball sized the previous year, was now a grape-fruit sized teratoma tumor full of teeth and hair. Following that visit, I underwent several more scans and we found out that the tumor had completely surrounded my right ovary and that the best option was to remove the tumor and my ovary, as it wouldn't be possible to save it. I underwent surgery and the tumor came back benign. My family was worried as to how this would affect my ability to have children in the future. The staff at Children's was unable to tell us exactly how it would affect me, but that time would tell. As I approach my eighth month of pregnancy with my first child, I can't begin to express my gratitude for the doctor and staff that were able to successfully diagnose my illness over 10 years ago. I also can't help but wonder if the tumor had been allowed to continue to grow, how much worse it would have affected my body.
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