As a hair stylist for more than 53 years, Linda Baughan spends a lot of time on her feet, which in turn, caused back trouble.
So when her back pain increased more than normal last year, she didn’t think much of it.
“I had mowed the lawn so I thought I just hurt my back,” the Marion, Michigan, resident said.
The pain on the left side of her back extended up to her shoulders.
Her doctor in Cadillac ordered a CT scan. The scan revealed something much worse than bad discs—it showed a tumor.
He then ordered a MRI.
“It didn’t show definitely where the tumor was, but they thought it was in the female area,” Baughan said.
Her doctor referred her to a surgeon in Traverse City for the September 2016 surgery.
“My kids were all there for the surgery,” Baughan said. “Not long after he started, the doctor went out and told them, ‘It’s not where I can take it out. She needs to go to a different surgeon.’ He closed me up.”
Baughan opted to go to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids.
Although Baughan’s mass was benign, because she was anxious about her family history of ovarian cancer, Andrea Wolf, MD, a Spectrum Health general surgeon, recommended Baughan consider having her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed.
“My sister fought it for six and a half years,” Baughan said. Unfortunately, her sister lost that fight.
Baughan didn’t want to experience the same battle.
On Nov. 21, Dr. Wolf removed Baughan’s tumor, her ovaries and fallopian tubes.
“I recall (Baughan) coming in and essentially saying, ‘Will you please help me? No one else will,’” Dr. Wolf said. “She had been in to see other surgeons who were not willing to take on the risks of the procedure.”
Dr. Wolf explained to Baughan why the tumor’s location caused so much pain, and approaches to removing it.
“With its location in the posterior pelvis, sitting atop the sacrum, I thought a large incision would be needed,” Dr. Wolf said. “However, I offered to start laparoscopically and complete the resection that way if possible. It was able to be removed without difficulty in a minimally invasive fashion.”
Dr. Wolf said she removed both of Baughan’s ovaries because of her family history concern with ovarian malignancy.
With the minimally invasive surgery, Baughan returned home that night.
“I wasn’t one bit sick,” she said. “Dr. Wolf’s first comment was, ‘How’s your back?’ I said, ‘I don’t hurt anymore.’”
And she’s been doing great ever since.
“I’m totally fine,” Baughan said. “I realize now that I probably had that tumor for about a year and a half. Every time I used to get done working, I hurt. I think it was pressing against my nerves.”
She’s back to cutting her couple of acre yard with the riding mower. She’s back to walking, sewing quilts and making receiving blankets and selling them to raise money for cancer research.
She’s thankful for the opportunity, and thankful she doesn’t have cancer.
“When they found my tumor they assured me it wasn’t cancer,” Baughan said. “I thought, if that happens, then we cross that bridge when it happens. But I’m good. I’m clear. My story is a good story.”