It’s been an interesting adventure so far with my liver. In the past month, I’ve gone from thinking my liver was fine to thinking I had a cyst to finding out I had a tumor. Since I had no symptoms of the tumor, I’ll admit I was pretty shocked to find out it existed. But I was set up with a great medical team and my doctor has been very persistent in trying to figure this all out.
Before Thanksgiving, I went in for another MRI. This time, it was a different type of dye they used so they could figure out what type of tumor was in my liver. I knew I’d be meeting with my liver surgeon the Monday after Thanksgiving so I assumed that I would find out answers then. But on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I got a call from my OB/GYN (who was trained by my dad and has known my family for a while). She told me she had been following my medical records and saw that there was a report about my last MRI.
They officially declared that my tumor is an adenoma. This is the type of tumor that is a rare side effect from being on hormonal birth control. So my OB/GYN called me to tell me to stop taking my birth control pill because we didn’t want the tumor to get any bigger. She also told me on the call that they actually found out I have 3 tumors in my liver (the big one plus 2 small ones). She was able to send me the MRI report so my family and I could read it and she also talked to my dad to fill him in. We learned a lot by reading the MRI report (thankfully I have so many medical people in my family), but we were all still curious what the liver surgeon would say.
When I finally met with him on Monday, he pretty much agreed with everything we already heard. Yes, I have 3 tumors and they are all adenomas. He was happy to hear that I had already stopped my birth control and he explained my options. I could choose to not have the tumors out, but there is a very small chance that one day they could become cancerous and a larger chance that they could rupture and cause internal bleeding. Also, I could not get pregnant while the tumors are in there (pregnancy makes the tumors bigger and more likely to rupture). Or I could choose to get them out and have liver surgery that will take out 2 of the tumors (one isn’t in a spot where they could remove it right now) and then deal with recovery from surgery.
That large circle with the line through it is the tumor. It’s pretty large (almost the size of an iPhone) and covers a good portion of my left liver. The other tumors aren’t seen in this image but one is below the large tumor and the other is more toward the middle of my liver.
To me, it’s no question. I’m going to have surgery to get the tumors out. Even though the risk of the tumors becoming cancerous is very very small, I don’t want that risk (the chance of me getting these tumors to begin with was very small so I’m not a fan of odds right now). Also, I do hope that one day I will be married and want to have kids so I need the tumors out to have a safe pregnancy in the future.
Fortunately, nothing needs to be rushed right now. I’m not at a very high risk of rupture for the tumors (although I have been told to be careful with any trauma to my abdomen) and I don’t plan on being pregnant anytime soon. I was able to make a plan with the liver surgeon that I’m happy with right now. I need to stay off the hormonal birth control so we can see if the tumors will shrink at all (and I’ll be getting a copper IUD very soon to make sure I don’t get pregnant). In the spring, I will be getting a new MRI to see if the tumors are smaller and then I’ll meet with the surgeon.
And sometime in late April or early May I will be having my liver surgery. They will take out those 2 tumors (and maybe if the tumors shrink they can take out all 3) plus about 25% of my liver. And since I already need to have my gallbladder out, they said they could probably do that in the same surgery! I’m happy to know that I can do 2 surgeries at once.
It’s not an easy surgery to recover from. This will be much more difficult than my hip surgery or my tonsils coming out. I’ll need to stay at the hospital for a few nights and will take some time to get back to normal. And even though my liver will grow back (it’s one of the few organs that can do that), that will also take time and may be a bit uncomfortable or painful for a few months.
Even with all the negatives that the surgery may bring, I feel very confident in my choice to have the tumors out. I understand that I don’t have to do it, but in my mind having the surgery is the only reasonable option. Unless something crazy happens, I probably won’t have any more liver updates until my next MRI in the spring, but I promise to keep you all updated. One thing I’ve learned while researching liver adenomas is that there aren’t a ton of stories out there like mine. So I want to share the journey in case someone else has the same situation to help them feel less freaked out by it all.