So I’m that guy, trying to process being told, “I think you have a tumor.”
At my biggest, I weighed in at about 250 pounds. I am about 6 feet 2 inches tall and not completely out of shape. I knew I was overweight, but I thought I was still somewhat healthy. Since my teen years I had struggled with my weight, it was a slow and steady process, but it gradually crept up on me. At the age of 28, I had been actively trying to lose weight for about 2 years with no success. I decided to go to the doctor and talk about what I could do to lose the weight.
The first step was to do some blood tests. Two days later, the results were in. I went to the doctor’s office to go over the results. First of all, my blood sugar levels were elevated. They had done an insulin test and found that I was severely insulin resistant and on my way to having type 2 diabetes. My cholesterol was elevated and nearly at the point I would need to be medicated for it. My testosterone levels were extremely low, and there was a funny little hormone called prolactin that I had never heard of, but it was highly elevated as well.
After talking about the prolactin levels, the doctor said the words that no one wants to hear, “I think you may have a tumor.” I was stunned and confused as he started to explain that he thought I may have a pituitary tumor that was basically at the root of all the other problems I was having. The prolactin levels were inhibiting my testosterone production, therefore causing my body to be completely out of balance. I had many of the symptoms and almost all of the physical traits associated with the tumor and I could trace these things back to my early adolescence. A few of the traits were lack of facial hair and abnormal distribution of body fat.
The MRI confirmed the existence of a prolactinoma (pituitary tumor). It was small and thankfully benign, but it was in fact a complicating factor of some of my most significant health issues. I believe that my lifestyle choices were definitely the major factor in my health problems, but the tumor made it an uphill climb to reverse the effects of the choices I was making.
It was a substantial turning point in my life. I was medicated to control the tumor and its effects on my metabolism. I had a renewed motivation to change the habits that had brought about the health issues I was facing. I increased the frequency and intensity of my workouts and most importantly I changed my eating habits.
Six years later, the tumor is still there, but it is under control with medication. I’ve discovered a lot about myself in the process of learning to manage it and take back control of my body and my health. I’m now about 50 pounds lighter than the day I went into the doctor the first time. I’ve made new habits around exercise and eating that have made it possible to maintain my weight loss and reverse the health problems I faced before. I’ve run two marathons in the last two years and I maintain an active lifestyle. My blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and testosterone are all at normal levels currently. I’ve learned to enjoy “healthy foods.” I feel healthy and empowered to continue forward in my new lifestyle.
All in all, I’m not completely sure how much effect the tumor had on my health. Maybe it was just the shock of finding it that spurred me to change my bad habits and learn to enjoy things that are good for me. Either way, I now see it as a positive turning point that has motivated me to improve on a continual basis.