A new mum who was told to "lose weight" in order to fix the protein detected in her urine, has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow) after seeking a second opinion.
Jen Curran, 38, from California - who gave birth to daughter Rose in February - took to Twitter to detail her story, which highlights how toxic attitudes to womens' weight potentially contributes to a preventable loss of life.
There's every reason to believe that if Jen had heeded the advice of the first doctor, who didn't want to see her back "for months", this may have resulted in a very different - and potentially tragic - outcome for the new mum, who has just begun her first round of chemotherapy.
Jen's thread - which has been retweeted 16,600 times and liked more than 57,000 times - begins with the summary of what she's been through, which she then pads out in her ensuing tweets.
Wanna hear a crazy story? I’m a new mom & I had protein in my urine during and after pregnancy, which is bad. A doctor told me to “lose weight” & it would go away. Didn’t want me to see me back for months. So I got a second opinion. Turns out I have bone marrow cancer. THREAD: 1/— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
I’m 38 years old. My husband and I just had our first baby. A healthy beautiful girl named Rose. We‘re over the moon. She’s funny and determined. The dog adores her and the cats seem to like her too. She loves water and music... ANYWAY! 2/— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
At the end of my 2nd trimester they found high protein in my urine and I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. 3/— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
I was put on bedrest for 3 months. I did puzzles, watched West Wing (again) and Breaking Bad (again) and generally lazed around for days on end. Under any other circumstance this would be my ideal lifestyle. 4/— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
The OB remained concerned about the protein in Jen's urine and recommended she see a kidney specialist after the birth of the baby.
Since Jen had a new baby to take with her, she booked in with a local doctor covered by her insurance. At that appointment it was discovered that the protein in Jen's urine was even higher than during pregnancy and straight after Rose's birth.
Jen explained why this is a really bad thing.
[Spilling protein into your urine is bad for your body, especially if it’s high levels. It can irreparably damage your kidneys and it usually indicates something more serious is going on.] 9/— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
The doctor, however, wasn't worried and told her that "It can take up to a year for things to return to normal after pregnancy." This was when the alarm bells started to ring for Jen. But the bad advice didn't end there.
The doctor blinked at my lab results. “Can you start dieting and exercising? Try to lose some weight?” Hmm. Interesting. I was familiar with this move by a medical professional. The old “lose weight” diagnosis. 12/— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
“Okay,” I said.— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
“If it comes from a box it’s not good.”
“Mm-hmm,” I said.
“Yes. Go lose some weight. Then the protein will go away. Come see me again in 4 months.” 13/
Jen then explains how her instinct told her the doctor wasn't on the ball.
I wanted to believe her but it didn’t feel right to me. Plus she was almost, like, talking past me. Asked me a question about breastfeeding and literally didn’t listen to the answer. Responded as though I said the exact opposite of what I‘d said. Not listening. Not present. 14/— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
She then details her own journey with weight loss and how she wasn't even remotely in that space anymore, writing, "I knew in my gut something else was wrong."
Jen sought a recommendation for a different kidney doctor from the original OB who was worried about the protein in the first place.
The NEW kidney doctor took one look at my lab tests and said, “This is not good. And there’s nothing diet or exercise can do to touch it.” I was surprised BUT ALSO NOT. She was clearly concerned. She told me we needed to biopsy my kidneys. And I hoped for the best. 24/— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
The initial results showed nothing wrong, but then a more detailed set of results came through indicating Jen had too many 'kappa light chains' in her blood. She was referred to a hematologist-oncologist who took a biopsy of her bone marrow.
The results showed that Jen had multiple myeloma.
Shocking. Gut wrenching. I have a 5 month old baby. I’m not even 40 years old. I’m not even caught up on Big Little Lies. 30/— Jen Curran (@jencurran) August 12, 2019
She has just begun chemotherapy and since going public with her story, Jen has learned that "this happens all the time."
Posting a screen grab of her appearance on Good Morning America, Jen urges women to go with their gut instinct.
"This happens all the time. So trust yourself and listen to your intuition."
She is now a body positivity advocate and raises awareness about toxic weight culture, most recently sharing a petition to remove the Weight watchers app which targets children as young as eight.