Golf-ball sized lump ruined Thanksgiving

It was one of the first days of Thanksgiving break, and, after a week of especially hurried school work, Staci Raab had planned to finally sleep in. A vivacious UVA junior, Raab awoke in her childhood bedroom in Richmond on Sunday, November 19, ready to enjoy her week of rest. It wasn’t long before she realized a school problem had followed her home.

Raab felt what seemed like typical cold symptoms, plus something more—a painful, golf-ball sized lump that made her neck look “huge.” Her first thought: “It’s the mumps!”

With 43 confirmed cases of the mumps at UVA since late September, it’s not surprising that Raab recognized her illness right away. The doctors at Henrico Doctor’s Hospital weren’t so capable. Instead of testing Raab for mumps, they administered a rubella test. Because of the error, Raab is considered an “unconfirmed case;” she’s still not sure if she actually had the mumps.

But the Raab family wasn’t taking any chances. They called off their Thanksgiving guests and Staci went into quarantine. A photo even went up on Raab’s Facebook profile: “Staci can’t play. Mumps.”

The next few days were filled with boredom for Raab. She pretended to be doing homework, but she actually polished off about eight novels and seven movies while recovering. While Raab convalesced, a family friend at a Richmond news station picked up on her story. Two networks showed up throughout the week to take pictures of her “big swollen neck.”

Thanksgiving was unusually dry for the Raab family this year. Staci had to sit on the other side of the room from her 18-year-old brother (mumps can make men sterile), and the family entertained no guests. “We had all the turkey and whatever, but it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving,” Raab says.

UVA ordered all students to show proof of vaccination—there are only 11 students unvaccinated and 62 have not returned health forms. Raab’s vaccines were up to date when she caught the mumps.

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