Sh*t Happens


Have you ever had your world rocked upside down? Come on, you all know the song from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Recently, I felt like Will Smith. A few days ago, I found myself sobbing in my car.  I had just found out that this bump that I thought was nothing was something!

Okay, maybe I was in denial? But, I had reason to think it was nothing. When I brought it up to my doctor, she dismissed it. “I can’t feel anything” were her exact words as she touched my jaw line. I was sick at the time, so maybe it was a swollen gland?

It never went away, so I went back to my primary care doctor a second time. This time they tested me for mononucleosis (mono) and the mumps. The tests came back negative. I was fine. It was probably a swollen gland and my sinuses acting up again. I almost felt like a hypochondriac worrying about this stupid little bump!


My chronic sinus infections brought me into one of the top hospitals in Boston. I was lying back in the chair with this doctor looking up my nose; you can imagine how fun this was… I decided to ask her about this little bump that showed up months ago. Maybe she would have an idea why it didn’t go away.

When I mentioned it to her, she was VERY concerned. I was sent for a MRI, a biopsy, and to a specialist. Honestly, I still wasn’t worried. I am healthy, so I couldn’t possibly be anything serious. I was about to compete in the CrossFit Games!

The results from my biopsy were inconclusive. They said the cells from my “mass” were atypical. They didn’t know what it was. This information was relayed to me during a phone call from the specialist. I remember feeling like I was hit by a frying pan. My ears were literally ringing. The doctor was explaining that I should get surgery to see what the tumor was. I was trying to collect my thoughts. I couldn’t believe this. I thought I was healthy?

I was trying to focus on all of his medical jargon. I focused intently on the risks because of the complications I had with my last surgery. What I retained was that there was a small chance that it was cancerous and there were a number of risks to this surgery. How I interpreted this was, “you don’t have cancer.”

The risks of the surgery were nerve racking. The one risk that resonated with me was the chance of him hitting a facial nerve. He said that I could wake up from surgery and there was a chance that my face could look different. They could hit a nerve and my face would never be the same. I was on information overload. I wanted another opinion.


Well, I got another opinion and it was pretty much the same. You have a mass of cells. Hmmm, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear.  Where could I go to hear what I wanted to hear?  Couldn’t this thing just disappear on it’s own?

This is where I really slipped into denial. Surgery was scheduled for December of 2012. I figured this bump couldn’t be that bad if they didn’t schedule me for surgery right away. They actually let me pick the date. I decided I couldn’t do September because I didn’t want to interrupt the school year. I love teaching. And, I really believed in my heart that it would disappear by then. That’s it, I had decided that by December my bump would be gone.

My plans changed rather quickly. One night I started feeling an annoying pain in my jaw, my teeth, and my gums. It was so painful that I thought about going to see my doctor.  I knew in my gut it was the little bump. But, I didn’t want to face that reality.

The following morning I had a dentist appointment.  I brought up this annoying pain to my dentist. And, my world was changed forever. I realized for the first time that I do in fact have a tumor. I have a tumor and it is growing. They confirmed that my teeth, my gums, and my jaw hurt because of this mass. It wasn’t anything dental, and it wasn’t going to just go away. WOW! My denial was over.


I called the specialist to tell him about the pain I was experiencing. I no longer had the option to wait until December. The risks are higher if this tumor is growing. I have to have surgery in two weeks. I can’t even begin to tell you how scared I am. I have had about eight surgeries in my life but this one scares me the most. Why? Why is this so damn scary? Is it because I could wake up looking differently? That’s scary to me. I kind of like my face… Is it because of the complications I had with my last surgery? That wasn’t any fun! Is it because I thought I was SO healthy and was blindsided? I eat the right foods, I am supposed to be one of the fittest people on earth, but I have a tumor. How did this happen?

Don’t ignore any signs from your body. Whether it’s a small pain in your knee, an ache in your wrist, or a little bump on your neck. Our bodies give us signs for a reason. Our bodies are machines, but they are smart, delicate machines. I put my body through the ringer and it responds. It always just works. This time it is different. I realized that I can eat as healthy as I want and I can work out multiple times a day, but sh*t happens.



16 thoughts on “Sh*t Happens

  1. Lissa says:

    Sending lots of love and positive thoughts your way!

  2. julio says:

    My prayers go out to you. Good luck and stay strong. You will pull through, I know it!

  3. be brave dahhhlin’! xoxo

  4. Mark testa says:

    Stay strong girl and get better soon

  5. Rose Mini says:

    God is bigger and more powerful than any kind of sh*t……my prayers go with you!

  6. Kamau says:

    Alicia, I cannot believe what I’m reading! I know you well enough to know your strength. Your resolve will be tested at this time, and I know that you you overcome this and all other obstacles that may befall you. My heart and prayers are with you at this time. Please keep me posted.

  7. Denis finocchio says:

    You have to believe in Gods plan for you!

    Also I would be eating a highly alkaline diet right now before surgery www. Oh miracle.cOm.

    Love you and will pray to the Lord for your healing.

  8. Oh gosh, all my prayers go to you girl! Keep fighting, I know you’re gonna be okey!

  9. Jessica Slesinger says:

    I just came across this post you put on fb. Sending positive vibes your way. Anything health related is super scary, especially when you think you are taking care of yourself. I’ve known you since you were a little kid and I know you are a fighter. You’re gonna make it through this no problem! xoxo

  10. Don Lothrop says:

    Sorry for your bump. You’ve been trained to win, and you’ll beat this too. Get Dr. Fuhrman’s book, ” Super Immunity”. It may help . Everybody should re-evaluate their eating habits. You are doing well in the fitness area though. Keep up your spirits. You know we all love you. Keep us posted. Love Don.

  11. Be brave! It’s gotta come out and no matter what you are strong and will over come what ever obstacle thrown you’re way. I’ve had multiple surgeries and I can associate with your fears. Look this tumor in the eye and have all the confidence in the world that post surgery you will be 100% fine…and pain/tumor free!

  12. Lisa says:

    GOOOOMMMMEEEZZZZZ, that’s what I would yell at you in the gym when you were upset or stressed! I am screaming it now! But only to send you strength and love. I know that you are going to be okay! Please give yourself a big bear hug from me! Love you…keep me posted! Xo

  13. Nancy Sideri says:

    My thoughts are with you. I could have written this post….I was where you are 19 years ago. You may or may not remember but the girls were level 2 and level 5….though I lost all my hearing, the facial nerve was of the greatest concern. I’ve been there and know exactly what you are feeling. If you ever want to chat, please call me. I found it very helpful to talk to someone who had been through it. I am a member of a support group at the Mass. General and take calls all the time. I am here if I can be any help or a wall to bounce off of…………hey, at 50 something…..I’m doing Crossfit…..How WICKED is that… will too. I just know it.
    Love, Nancy Sideri

  14. B. Fenton says:

    You will be fine. Amanda and I hope you have an awesomely successful procedure. We will be thinking you!

  15. Mardee Goldberg says:

    I will be thinking of you and hope your recovery will be a good one….You are a fighter….so fight this and get well…My best to you… Mardee Goldberg

  16. Aunt Maria says:

    Hey Alicia,
    Nice article, hope it helps all the readers.
    Our thoughts are with you as move forward with the next step. We hope all goes well with the surgery. Sending you lots of love.
    The Kuhl Ones

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