If you've got tons of energy, hardly need any sleep, and just love working out six days a week, you probably have no reason to believe you're anything other than super healthy. But the opposite turned out to be true for 22-year-old college student Cristina Speirs. She chalked up her immense amount of energy and enviable lack of need of sleep to her regular workouts and hot yoga classes. But in reality something much more sinister was going on. Cristina had cancer.
Doctors first noticed something amiss when Cristina went for her annual checkup and found out she had low potassium levels and high blood pressure. Doctors eventually discovered that the otherwise extremely healthy young woman had an orange-sized tumor on her adrenal gland that was producing hormones that kept her awake and gave her energy.
The scariest part is that the doctors didn't quite figure out what was wrong with her -- Cristina's mom did. After a heart examination came back normal, Cristina's mother suggested that docs do a renal sonogram to check her kidneys. That's when they found the cancerous tumor. It was producing cortisol and aldosterone, two hormones that kept her up all night.
Normally when you hear about people having cancer, they are tired, not energized. The only other symptom Cristina had was going to the bathroom a lot at night. Something that's pretty common and can be attributed to lots of things besides tumors.
Thank goodness for Cristina's mom. How many moms would know to ask for a renal sonogram?!
Cristina underwent surgery in a hospital overwhelmed with patients displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and her tumor was removed. She is still taking medication in hopes the cancer doesn't return. Cristina says she feels like her body "betrayed" her, but she is slowly coming to trust it again.
Scary, eh? Symptoms of an adrenal gland tumor include:
- High blood pressure
- Low potassium levels
- Heart palpitations
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Excessive hair growth
Check full list of symptoms here.
Add one more symptom to that list: excessive energy.
Have you ever had or known anyone to have an adrenal gland tumor?
Image via Jack W Reed/Flickr