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Don’t worry, it’s not cancer- there’s just a pea plant in your lung

So, this can happen.

A 75-year-old Massachusetts man was (relieved? horrified? forced to live forever with the Cronenbergian horror of knowing?) surprised to find that his worsening emphysema was not, as he’d feared, due to cancer. No, the cause of the discomfort was far more delicious sauteed in butter- there was a small pea plant growing in his lung.

According to Boston.com, the man was in distress and doctors expected an entirely different diagnosis before they discovered the old pea plant in the lung thing:

Doctors feared the worst when Ron Sveden, already suffering from emphysema, was rushed to Cape Cod Hospital, coughing with a collapsed left lung and pneumonia. But after multiple biopsies, doctors discovered not a tumor — but a pea seed germinating inside Sveden’s collapsed lung.

They removed the sprout, about a half of an inch tall, and Sveden has recovered.

Sveden speculated on how the plant came to be in his lung in the first place:

“I must have ate something and it went down the wrong way, that’s all they could tell,” Sveden said in a telephone interview today. “It was too big to get through” from coughing.

Boston.com also cheerfully lets us know that not only is the condition common enough to have a name, but that this isn’t even the creepiest instance of the phenomenon:

Though extremely rare, pulmonary vegetation isn’t unheard of. Last year, doctors discovered a fig tree, measuring 5 centimeters, growing inside the lung of a 28-year-old Russian man, according to news reports.

Sveden also says one of his first hospital meals was peas, and he did not run screaming in terror.