Grove City woman shares odd vaccine experience


Heidi Struble talks at her home in Grove City about a vaccine side effect she experienced – a swollen lymph node in her armpit that tests could mistake as a sign of breast cancer.

As new data about the COVID-19 vaccine continues to develop, a Grove City woman is discussing her experience with a side effect she was not expecting.

“I think it’s always good to share information,” Heidi Struble said.

Her healthcare providers believe that the Pfizer vaccine caused the lymph nodes near her right armpit to swell, mimicking a common sign of breast cancer.

“At this point, I had no idea it had anything to do with the COVID vaccine,” she said, adding that she didn’t notice any pain or lumps.

As president of the Grove City Ministerium and a board member with Meals on Wheels, Struble, 44, did not think twice about getting the vaccine because she spends a lot of time out in the community.

She did have the virus in November, and she’s glad that her husband Dave and their 9-year-old daughter Jocelyn did not contract COVID-19.

She’s in relatively good health, is training for two half-marathons, and has two jobs that she does remotely.

Stuble works as a community outreach specialist at Grove Manor, a personal care and nursing home in Grove City, and in public affairs with Midnight Mission in Los Angeles, which provides services for the homeless and housing and recovery programs.

She got her first dose of the vaccine in January at Grove Manor and remembers having a headache afterward.

She had the second dose three weeks later. She was scheduled for a routine mammogram soon after, typical for a woman of her age.

The hospital called Struble with her mammogram results to report that they had found an abnormality.

She then had a diagnostic mammogram done followed by a biopsy.

“It made it look like breast cancer on an image,” she said.

Stuble was prepared to handle whatever came her way with God’s help.

“I had spent a lot of time in prayer,” she said of waiting for the results.

She was relieved when the second mammogram and biopsy showed no signs of cancer. The staff at Butler Memorial Hospital told Struble that they have seen a few patients with lymph nodes believed to have become swollen because of the vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, the organization has received some reports of Pfizer vaccine recipients experiencing swollen lymph nodes, saying that it’s an “adverse event” that is “plausibly related to the vaccine.”

A Pfizer vaccine fact sheet recently updated by the Food and Drug Administration says that, lymphadenopathy, or swollen lymph nodes, is among the side effects being reported.

Struble is still glad she got the vaccine. She does wonder if she would have known about the swelling if she hadn’t already had a mammogram scheduled.

She feels that the vaccine is helpful for the entire community, but she understands that some people do not want the shot.

“I don’t look down upon that,” Struble said.

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