During the months of June through August, I had a series of ultrasounds that detected the presence of an ovarian mass. It was scanned and measured to be “about the size of a walnut,” so I gave him the name Herr Walnut, which only seemed right since we’d already spent about four years together.

He’s about 45cm long and about the size of a walnut. Hence, Herr Walnut.

Yes, it took four years for a doctor, the right doctor, to listen to me, to stop dismissing my complaints of intermittent pain and go beyond palpitating my lower abdomen and saying, eh. Doesn’t feel like there’s anything there.

“OK, let’s run some tests,” she said. We did. And here we were, scheduling surgery to remove the mystery mass.

On Tuesday morning, two days after the Twin Cities Marathon, I went in for surgery. I also lost the ovary, but that was always part of the plan. It turned out that the tumor was inside of the right ovary. Snip it. Bag it. Remove it. The tumor was tested and declared benign. The process ended up being a simple one that wrapped up three months of worrying that I had cancer. Every single damn day.


Scheduling surgery, even if it’s only outpatient, two days after you make your body run 26.2 miles is probably not ideal. Lesson learned. Recovery has been slow, though never before having anyone cut into my gut to pull out organs, I didn’t have a benchmark. I do have a new appreciation for mothers who deliver via caesarean. And hernia surgery patients.

Heated, inflatable hospital rack, I mean, gown.
Heated, inflatable hospital rack, I mean, gown.

The discomfort that Herr Walnut has caused for the last four years (yes, that long) has been minimal compared to the mind fuck that waiting for medical test results for three months will do to a person. And even though it feels like I just gave birth all over again—partly because I look newly postpartum from all the bloating and it’s reflected on the bathroom scale as well—I feel lighter; a weight has been removed. I am relieved to end this chapter with no added content on what it’s like to have a hysterectomy at age 41, or working while undergoing chemotherapy. That this was merely a large dermoid cyst, resulting in me being short one ovary that was the size of a mandarin orange is a fortunate situation that is is not lost on me one bit.

A little larger than one's ovaries are supposed to be
Because I am all about visuals. A little larger than one’s ovaries are supposed to be.

It’s too early to tell if I’ll feel any better or different after removal of this Thing That Wasn’t Supposed to Be There. Nor can I say that I will never need to go down this road again. But I will admit that when I see a walnut or an orange, I can’t help but think how grateful and lucky I am, which is how you should feel after something like this.


And how I am 100% in support of celebratory Late Birthday/It’s Not Cancer Carrot Cake.