A YOUNG mum was told her bad posture while working from home was to blame for her back pain.
But Ellie Chandler was stunned to find out it was actually a huge tumour the size of a baby’s head at the base of her spine.
The 25-year-old claimed she first got back pain after giving birth to twins in December 2019.
She said she went to doctors several times but was told to take painkillers and buy a support pillow.
Medics thought it was simply due to bad posture from sitting at her home desk.
The former loan officer went to an orthopaedic specialist and received a clear X-ray, until her gynaecologist felt the huge mass inside her weeks later.
After emergency tests, the mum-of-two was diagnosed with a rare 5.5-inch (14cm) giant cell tumour in the base of her spine, which had grown so rapidly she needed a catheter.
She now faces months of intense treatment, with monthly injections to shrink the tumour in the hope of undergoing risky surgery to eventually remove it.
Ellie, from Pennsylvania, US, said: “When I went to the pelvis exam, she went to do the exam and said she couldn’t do it because she was feeling something in there.
“She did a rectal exam and said she could feel it in there as well, it was a rather large mass.
“I then went to get an ultrasound the same day, a CT scan the next day and they found the tumour then.
“The pain was so bad at that point that I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t sit, I was driving around for work and I was crying in the car some days because it hurt so bad.
“From there, I was admitted into the hospital for about a week where they did a biopsy. It came back as a giant cell tumour, which is not cancerous.
“Because of where mine is located, in my tailbone and lower spine, there’s so much space that it can get massive before you start to experience symptoms.
“Giant cell tumours are quite common in young people, in their twenties, thirties and forties.
“Doctors don’t necessarily think it’s going to be a tumour because you’re young and healthy, they think of other things first.
“All that contributed to how it got so massive. It was the size of a baby’s head by the time they found it. The measurements were all between 10cm and 14cm when they found it.”
FACT BOX – WHAT IS A GIANT CELL TUMOUR?
– Giant cell tumours are non-cancerous tumours that develop in the bone
– They most often affect people between ages of 20 and 45 years old
– They are benign but aggressive, rapidly growing and causing damage to soft tissue. They can become malignant
– Symptoms include pain, swelling, fractures due to bone weakness and restricted movement
– Treatment can include surgery or biological therapies, such as Denosumab, which Ellie is currently receiving
Ellie, who is now unable to work due to her condition, has been left extremely frustrated that professionals missed the tumour so early on.
She is warning young people that back pain is ‘really not normal’ and hopes that her story will help people push for answers.
Ellie said: “I really went through, and I’m still going through, the different stages of grief. I was really angry at first and scared.
“After that, I was really angry that I went to so many different doctors and nobody caught this.
“I did bring up red flag symptoms. Back pain shouldn’t really be considered normal for young people, but it generally is.
“Once I brought up neurological symptoms like bowel and bladder issues, they should have been red flags to the orthopaedic doctor that I saw.
“I was definitely angry realising I’d been to so many doctors and nobody caught it because over that span of weeks, the tumour did grow significantly to the point where I was having intermittent issues with going to the bathroom.
“Back pain is so normalised, especially with people working from home these days, but it’s really not normal and you should take it seriously if it’s impacting your daily life.
“Especially young people, don’t put off going to the doctor. Don’t let it get to the point that it’s so bad you’re having issues functioning.
“Look out for red flag symptoms, so if you’re having other symptoms along with back pain, those could be signs that you have a tumour in your spine.”
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