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Imagine having menstrual periods so horrendously painful that you vomit, or black out. Imagine having to miss school or work, because you feel so debilitated. And now, imagine being misdiagnosed by five different doctors over the course of 17 years — until you finally found the cause of your misery and got your life back.
Meet Calle Hack, a 33-year-old copywriter from Chicago, who went through that gruesome experience and emerged on the other side.
“My pain was never taken seriously. One doctor told me it was probably psychosomatic from stress, others thought I was over-exaggerating my feelings. Everyone thought I was just being difficult. And I wasn't sure. My mom had told me period pain runs on the family. But I was vomiting and passing out. It was difficult to get anyone to take my pain seriously,” Hack told Megyn Kelly TODAY.
The cause of her pain: something she calls her “little monster.”
In November 2017, a doctor performed an internal ultrasound and diagnosed her immediately with an ovarian teratoma or dermoid — a large cyst on her right ovary. It was the size of a Florida orange. But here’s the kicker, in Hack’s own words.
“When I came out of the test the doctor said that this kind of cyst was weird. She prepared me ... Then told me it was a cyst that had bones, cartilage, hair, fat cells, teeth. And it's not like I ate my twin. They actually grow when you are a fetus. It should help form a body part as you develop. Instead it’s a clump of cells that didn't disperse inside my body. The clump ended up making a home on one of my ovaries and it grows over time and simply became a part of my body,” Hack said.
Dermoid cysts are rarely cancerous, according to the Mayo Clinic, but can become large and painful.
In January 2018, Hack had surgery to remove it from her right ovary and it was successful: Her ovary was saved and she should be able to have children.
Hack, who first shared her story in Good Housekeeping, hopes that revealing her ordeal will inspire other women to always trust themselves and listen to their bodies.
“I have learned through this experience that I have to be an advocate for myself when I know something is wrong,” she said.