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Tumor in my Tibia: Healing Journey, Gory Pics + Subtle Body (Benign!)

Tumor in my Tibia: Healing Journey, Gory Pics + Subtle Body (Benign!)

Reduction in Chronic Systemic Inflammation Helps With Faster Surgery Recovery

The Back Story

For the past two decades, I’ve had instability on my left side.
Very subtle and slow.
Because I’m so sporty the muscles made it all tolerable.
20 years ago QL area back pain started.

5 years ago I was on an 80 mile white water paddleboarding trip on the Main Salmon in Idaho – and did an ACL partial tear in class 3+ rapid. Nothing major. It swelled and took 3-6 months to heal.

Two years ago I reinjured the knee. I was peeing in the woods on downhill skis. Not glorious. I was worn out and highly acidic and just handed in my book a few hours before. While taking a quick pee break in the trees, I felt a slingshot sensation at the back top of my calf. Then I collapsed. Got up. Thought that was super bizarre, and skied the rest of the day.

It swelled and stayed swollen for a year. I saw Physical Therapists, surgeons, rolfers, healers of all sorts. I’ve had 3 MRIs. The conclusion a year after the ski injury was a grade 1-2 ACL tear + meniscus tear. I had meniscus surgery a year ago. The surgeon reported the ACL was totally intact, and you can see that on the surgery video.

The meniscus surgery had no effect. In my healing journey, I pursued solutions for the past year and invested $10- $15k of out-of-pocket medical expenses. I did intensive physical therapy, stem cell injections along with PRP and exosomes. I did neural therapy because the issues seemed connected throughout the left side of my body – from left knee to left hip to left lower back to the left shoulder. I saw cranial-sacral therapists. I detoxed to the hilt and have no inflammation left in my body, which honestly makes the whole journey worth the journey.

I reinjured the left knee while snowbiking. I did more extensive physical therapy and kept to a fasting lifestyle to promote natural stem cell growth. When all the swelling was gone from the injury, it was clear that I had serious muscle deterioration on my quadriceps, despite being in excellent condition. The ACL seems to have the elasticity of a grade 2 tear. I got my third MRI and went back to the surgeon.

The Correct Diagnosis

 The tumor was obvious. You can see it in the MRI image below. 

Why wasn’t it caught in the previous two MRIs? Good question. It was. It was smaller. It was considered secondary to athletic injuries. It wasn’t considered that the athletic injuries were caused due to the inflammation of the tumor. In retrospect – bizarre. Or karmic. Or something like that. 

The doc identified it as an enchondroma – a cartilage tumor on a growth plate. The tumor has been slow glowing since puberty. This lines up with all the issues on the left side of my body which started with back pain in my early 20’s. Destabilization in the bone. It also explained why the left side of my body was increasingly less powerful with time.

The Surgery (Warning! Gory Pics)

This part you might want to skip if you are grossed out by gore. 

Pic 1: My pretty knee. 

Pic 2: The hole.

Pic 3: The exorcism

Pic 4: The cadaver bone chips

As my friend Vas noted – they took out pieces of me. Yet somehow I’m more whole.

Immediate Post Op 

As the anesthesia wore off… my awareness did this whole reconnecting the subtle body. It was like tripping through the chakras. And, most of you know, I’m not that new age. I wasn’t trying to direct my awareness to do anything. I drew out the experience. 

My Ayurvedic Diagnosis on Enchondroma

Hindsight is 20/20. For the past two years, I said my knee felt spongy. We didn’t realize the sponge was in the bone, collapsing the knee with inflammation, and collapsing the knee was collapsing the left side of my bone.

My cousin Andy asked what I thought about all this. This is my conclusion. And it makes sense in my body as to why a bunch of cells that were supposed to become bone stayed as cartilage.

This is going to be TMI for most people. This whole blog post is TMI for most people. I need to write it for those who will ask me about it. You might as well have the whole story. 

Some of my first and most powerful memories as a kiddo were of constipation and migraines. The migraines and constipation continued through my teen years despite lots of doctors and loads of pills. In Ayurveda and Yoga, the colon is correlated with the calves. For example, if your calves are tight that pushes energy up in the body (Udana Vayu). Energy is meant to flow down through the feet first. Then up through the head. (Apana Vaya, Prana Vayu).

My childbirth was supposedly rough. A medicalized vaginal birth. I was ditched at the hospital for a few days due to jaundice. I was nursed for a few months at best. In Ayurveda, this disrupts the full establishment of the g.i. tract through the anus. It’s called mouthing/analing. (Yoga guru Donna Farhi is an expert on this if you need a reference.)

My constipation was always from a lack of peristaltic strength, especially in the descending colon. This lines up with the left calf. By the time I went through puberty, I had a pile of health issues. I’m super athletic so it wasn’t that obvious. I took pills for allergies and headaches. In Ayurveda, you can see ama (undigested toxicity) in my body from my baby picture at 6 months old. Ama turns into inflammation. By the time I was 16, I had embedded ama in my deep tissue. Through Ayurveda and detox, I also cured the allergies and migraines years ago. Now I have very very low inflammation, so I can tell the difference, and it’s like night and day.

In Ayurveda, the abnormality of cellular development, in this case, is due to Apana Vayu – or a deep-seated Vata imbalance.


Yesterday I had surgery. My subtle body, from 20 years of attention in yoga and meditation, instantly went to a more integrated state post-operation. The healing journey over the past two decades has rendered me insanely resilient and adaptable. I feel better than ever. I have a deep trust in my body – a more integrated connection than ever in my life. I emerge with an utterly profound experience of the perfection of human design. I also emerge with an unprecedented understanding of self-diagnosis.

For all those who don’t yet have the right diagnosis, a few tips:

  1. Do the work to reduce all chronic systemic inflammation. When it’s gone, diagnosis becomes easier. Having the habits that eat inflammation for breakfast will improve your life more than you can imagine, so do the work. 
  2. Develop your subtle body awareness. Develop your intuition. I’m absolutely blown away that I couldn’t self-diagnose this. Once we had the right diagnosis, I could feel what I thought was a generalized ache in my knee, to a specific ache coming from the tumor in the bone. That was wild. 
  3. Keep investing in yourself. Find the medical professionals. Do what it takes.

About the Author

Cate Stillman

Welcome to We’re all about vibrant health evolution, both personal + planetary. Let’s step deeper into dharma and an awake life together. Start with your Yoga Lifestyle Upgrade Kit + Upgrade your body, your dharma + your life.

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