Looking For The Sun In The Storm: Lauren's Story

You know.... I tried to cut this story in half but you need all of the details!!! 

It all started when my family and I were in L.A. for a week for my sister’s softball tournament and I began to develop symptoms that seemed like a cold or even the allergies I always get. Before we even left for L.A. my symptoms were getting a little too weird to just be from seasonal allergies. 

I was having a hard time breathing, my back hurt, and I was having horrible neck pains... I had no idea what was going on. I thought it was just going to be a simple fix or something that would eventually fade away. 

But no. It just got worse.

My face and my neck began to swell up. I looked like I got my wisdom teeth pulled- it was so bad. All I kept thinking was “what is going on?!”

 I wasn't doing anything different. Just going about my normal routine and yet I felt so confused by what was happening to me. So, we decided to make an appointment to meet with my regular doctor in town. We ran through the normal checkup routine. She got my weight and height thenled me to a room where I sat on the bed. She wanted me to tell her what was wrong so I proceeded to tell her how everything happened and in what order, and how everything was only getting worse.

Nothing was fading away- it was just like everything was getting worse or something new was happening. 

First it was my back pain and then I was having a hard time sleeping at night, but I just thought I may have lifted something incorrectly or slept on it wrong. But then my neck started to hurt as well. It felt like I had a stiff neck, but then stretching wasn't helping. 

I was doing anything i could to stop the back pain but it was getting worse. I would cry at night because of how bad the pain was. And then I started having a hard time breathing, and then my face slowly started to swell up…and then my neck. 

And so… I described all of this to my doctor and she pulled out her stethoscope to listen to my chest and my back to make sure nothing sounded different, and then she pulled out the flash light, told me to say ahhhhh and still nothing. I was confused as to why she pulled out the flashlight when I told her my back was hurting…but what do I know?

 All she said was that the back of my throat looked a little irritated and I have heart burn and a muscle spasm and that's why my chest is tight and the reason I'm having a hard time sleeping at night.

 Sounded a little weird that THAT was it.

She even mentioned how maybe it was because I was drinking too much coffee…i do have coffee every day….but my back has never hurt from drinking coffee!

She also gave me some cream to rub on my back to help the “muscle spasm” go away…(insert laughter here!)

But she's the doctor… I definitely didn't know any better… so we took her word! 

I felt like I was being punk’d honestly. I felt like I was really close to death and all she could think of was cream to rub on my back to make me feel better…Like excuse me, but…what??? 

Anyway -  I walked out of there with my coffee cupin hand and still drankevery drop - I was pretty convinced my coffee drinking wasn’t the issues here! 

I just knew there was more to this,  but no one could see it

Still, she prescribed me some medicine for heartburn (because for some reason when you feel like you can’t breathe it’s heartburn?)……and then told me to get some weird little cream to help my back pain. Needless to say I could have given myself the check up rather than feeling like I was sent on a wild goose chase for some cream and HEARTBURN medication. Thinking this would do the trick and that I would have nothing to worry about after I finished taking the medicine made me happy because I knew that this was all going to go away and I wouldn’t have anymore pain after this! 

I didn’t know any better than to just follow the doctors’ orders because they know more than I do about this stuff. So I was taking the medicine as my doctor had told me to. It was just a heart burn pill once a day, and then I was rubbing the cream on my neck and back regularly. I wanted all of that pain to go away - I didn't want anything to get worse. 


As we began our trip to L.A. it did just that - it got worse

Three days into our trip and everything was going good until I was pulling a cart filled with the chairs for mymom and I to sit while we watched my sister’s softball games. All of a sudden the cart got soooo heavy I had to stop. I was running out of air. I couldn't breathe. I felt a big lump in my throat. The kind of lump you get when you want to cry. 

My hands went down to my knees and I was trying soooo hard to gasp for air!!! 

This was it. 

We ended up at the ER in L.A. hoping someone would give us an answer!!! I'm convinced this might not be JUST heartburn. 

This might be serious. 

I sat in the waiting room and I tried to calm myself down. I tried taking deep breathes. I was doing anything I could to try to keep my breathing just a little normal and able to handle. I was trying so hard to keep it together. Until I finally heard my name called to go back to a room to get checked out. Breathing was the only thing on my mind. I couldn't think of anything else. My eyes were getting blurry and it was hard to think from losing my breath...something so simple but so important. I couldn’t even speak in full sentences. The doctor finally came in to see me and she did the same little doctor routine the first doctor did during my first check up. Pulled out the stethoscope, checked my chest, my back, listened to my breathing, pulled out the little flashlight (again???) and then told me to say ahhhhhhh. 

It was almost interesting to me how two doctors can do the same exact routine and see two totally different things. If there’s one thing I’ve learned - it’s always good to get a second opinion

The doctor asked me if I have a history with asthma and I said YES! She was talking about how maybe the air quality down in L.A. isn't as good right now due to all of the fires that have been going on and it could just be my asthma flaring up as a result. I was kinda confused because I visit L.A. a lot and it was weird that this particular time I'm reacting in a weird way to the air quality??? After shining the flashlight in my mouth, she said it looked a little red and irritated almost like it could be bronchitis. Just to be safe she prescribed medicine to kill any bacteria that could be building up in my throat and she also prescribed me an inhaler and encouraged me to use it as needed! So I felt like I was finally getting some answers. From there I went with the flow because I didn't know any better. With our trip ending in L.A. everything seemed normal. I was just dealing with the shortness of breath and using my inhaler when needed and I was just thinking it would eventually go away and the inhaler would help to the point where I wouldn't need it anymore! 

 We finished our trip in L.A. by visiting Disneyland (a lot of walking, a lot of breathing),  and I was fine. Well I was tolerating it. We even went to the beach and I felt completely fine - it just felt like I had a cold. 

Nooooothing serious! 

For those of you that don't know me, I'm always active, eating healthy, and I never go to the doctors. That's why this whole thing was throwing me off. I knew I was fine because I've had to use an inhaler before and everything eventually fades away and I feel better…that's how it always goes! So nothing to worry about! Just a little cold.  

I'll get over in a couple days like I usually do. 

We left L.A. and got home on aFriday evening. Everything was still the same. My chest was tight, my face and neck were a little swollen but I wasn't really thinking too much about it because now it just seemed like allergies - maybe even an allergic reaction? 

I would’ve never expected it to be more than allergies or even a cold.

 Until I woke up the next morning.

July 30th.  I have cancer. 

{About This Kick Ass Story}

This story was written and submitted by Lauren Widner - a kick ass, strong and inspiring 17 year old.

You can follow Lauren's journey on her amazing newly launched blog at: www.littleboxofsun.com