Black woman’s 13-lb. ovarian tumor initially misdiagnosed as weight gain
Chanté Burkett, whose tumor has now been successfully removed, is calling for others to self-advocate in medical situations
When lifestyle blogger Chanté Burkett began experiencing “severe pelvic pain” along with vomiting and a “semi-hard” abdominal area in December 2020, she made three separate visits to her primary care physician who dismissed her pain each time without running a single test.
The 33-year-old told Health that her doctor initially “brushed off” her claims, attributing them to “weight” and suggesting she might just be “gassy or bloated.”
“I was working out and I was losing weight, but I noticed that my stomach wasn’t going down,” Burkett said. “It was getting round like a pregnant person.”
The pain worsened and after the third visit to her physician, she decided to trust her instincts and get a second opinion.
“I finally said, ‘I don’t feel comfortable with you guys anymore,'” she said, adding that she went right from that visit to an urgent care center. “They ran a CT scan immediately, and that’s when they found a mass.”
Burkett did not receive a diagnosis that day and was instead referred to her ob/gyn who suspected the mass was a tumor and referred her to another specialist. Two days before the appointment, her pain escalated to where she “couldn’t walk anymore,” and after rushing to the ER, doctors diagnosed the mass as a 13-pound ovarian cyst that needed to be removed immediately.
“It was very scary,” Burkett said. “I didn’t know what would happen … Going in there knowing that I might have to have a hysterectomy or something could go wrong.”
Burkett underwent surgery where doctors successfully removed the tumor as well as her fallopian tube and right ovary. The mass — which weighed 13 pounds and measured 30 centimeters in length — was later revealed to be a non-cancerous cystic tumor called a mucinous cystadenoma, which grows on the ovaries and can occasionally be large.
Burkett posted a series of photos detailing her experience on Instagram, sharing that she is now “fully in good health” and is “relieved” to have this behind her.
She said her experience motivated her to encourage others not to be afraid to advocate for themselves in medical situations.
“I truly hope this post gives you a push to advocate for yourself within the healthcare system,” she wrote on Instagram. “Demand the proper testing and make sure things are documented.”
“This can happen to anyone—point blank,” Burkett told Health, reiterating the importance of making sure your voice is heard by medical professionals. “My tumor obviously stayed and grew, and it could have been detected earlier.”
“Advocate for yourself,” she continued. “And if you don’t feel like your doctor is listening to you, go elsewhere.”
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!