Even Oprah Winfrey isn't immune to panicking prematurely when it comes to her health.
The 64-year-old media mogul opens up about a recent health scare she experienced in an essay for O, The Oprah Magazine's November issue, and the alarming thoughts that immediately went through her head. Winfrey says she first noticed all wasn't well when she experienced soreness in her neck and saw that the left side of her chin had swelled up. She then Googled "swollen lymph gland causes," which she now regrets.
"None of the results were good," she notes. "For the next four hours, I thought the worst. Why would a neck suddenly swell? Maybe it wasn’t sudden. Maybe whatever it was had been growing for days, or longer, and I only now noticed."
She scheduled a doctor's appointment for the same day, and by then, was bracing for life-altering news.
"When I finally opened my mouth to say 'ahhh,' I was prepared for the doctor to say, 'I’m so sorry, Ms. Winfrey, you have. Insert terrible disease," she shares. "What she actually said was, 'I think your salivary glands are blocked. Go home, drink plenty of water, and try sucking on some lemons to stimulate your salivary ducts.'"
Oprah Winfrey through the years
Oprah Winfrey through the years
Oprah Winfrey, 1970s. (Photo by Film Favorites/Getty Images)
Oprah Winfrey smiles and gives the Okay sign during her time hosting the television show People Are Talking, 1978. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Pictured: (l-r) Talk show host Oprah Winfrey during an interview with guest host Joan Rivers on January 27, 1986 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 13: Oprah Winfrey attends the nominees luncheon for 58th Annual Academy Awards on March 13, 1986 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 14 -- Pictured: Oprah Winfrey during the monologue on April 14, 1986 (Photo by Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 9/8/1986-New York, NY: Oprah Winfrey (shown 8/21), whose talk show knocked the socks off Phil Donahue in Chicago and Tom Snyder in New York, will debut nationwide this month. Her interviews are peppy, probing, revealing, earthy and best of all she is funny. UPI eh/Ezio Peteresen
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 7: Oprah Winfrey sighted on November 7, 1986 at Tramp's in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - OCTOBER 22: Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey attend NAACP Legal Defense Fund Benefit Gala on October 22, 1987 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 13: Oprah Winfrey and Steadman Graham attend 47th Annual Golden Apple Awards on December 13, 1987 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Stedman Graham and Oprah Winfrey (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Oprah Winfrey at the New York Hilton Hotel in New York City, New York (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN -- Episode 1135 -- Pictured: (l-r) Talk show host Oprah Winfrey during an interview with host David Letterman on May 2, 1989 -- (Photo by: Paul Natkin/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Stedman Graham and Oprah Winfrey during 15th Annual Rape Treatment Center Brunch - September 24, 1989 at Sandra Moss in Holmby Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - JUNE 27: Oprah Winfrey attends 18th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on June 27, 1991 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 14: Singer Aretha Franklin and Talk Show Host Oprah Winfrey backstage at Radio City Music Hall on September 14, 1991. (Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images)
Television personality Oprah Winfrey. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
398059 20: Talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey arrives at the annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala December 2, 2001 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
398107 04: ITALY OUT Television talk show host Oprah Winfrey leaves a Midtown Hotel for Chicago after shopping for clothes and art December 3, 2001 in New York City.
NEW YORK CITY, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Oprah Winfrey and Elie Wiesel attend The New York Public Library Hosts Annual Library Lions Gala at New York Public Library on November 13, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Matt Carasella/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Halle Berry, Angela Bassett & Oprah Winfrey during Lionsgate Pre-Oscar Party for 'Monster's Ball' at Mirabelle Restaurant in West Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
Oprah Winfrey during The 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Oprah Winfrey at the The Marriot Marquis in New York City, New York (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY - NOVEMBER 12: Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King attend 46th Annual National Urban League Awards on November 12, 2002 at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Oprah Winfrey winner for Favorite Talk Show Host (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Morehouse President Walter Massey and Oprah Winfrey (Photo by Moses Robinson/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 29: Television Personality Oprah Winfrey attends the 76th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on February 29, 2004 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30: Television Personality Oprah Winfrey makes an appearance at The Waldorf Astoria where she was honored by the United Nations Association with it's Global Humanitarian Action Award. September 30, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 23: Oprah Winfrey speaks on stage at the 16th Carousel of Hope presented by Mercedes-Benz benefiting the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the Beverly Hilton Hotel October 23, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
Beyonce, Halle Berry and Oprah Winfrey at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Oprah Winfrey during The 36th Annual NAACP Image Awards - Show at Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage)
Oprah Winfrey (Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic)
Oprah Winfrey during The 28th Annual Kennedy Center Honors - Arrivals at The Kennedy Center for the Perfoming Arts in Washington D.C., -, United States. (Photo by Jeff Snyder/FilmMagic)
ATLANTA - FEBRUARY 6: Television personality Oprah Winfrey views the body of Correta Scott King at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church during a public viewing February 6, 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia. King's casket will lie in Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her husband the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached in the 1960s and the civil rights matriarch remained a member until her death. King died January 31 in Mexico at an alternative medicine clinic, where doctors said she was battling advanced ovarian cancer. (Photo by Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - FEBRUARY 18: Singer Mary J. Blige and television personality Oprah Winfrey are seen on court prior to the 2006 NBA All-Star Saturday Night festivities during All-Star Weekend February 18, 2006 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 19: Television personality Oprah Winfrey attends the opening night of 'Three Days of Rain' at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on April 19, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 10: Oprah Winfrey hugs one of the girls that she interviewed for her school for unprivileged girls on August 10, 2006 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Oprah has invested over $40 million to build a first class high school for a few hundred lucky girls from all over South Africa. She has realized her dream and promise to president Nelson Mandela to build the school, and to uplift the lives if these young girls. (Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images)
LUIS GUERRA/ï¿½2006 RAMEY PHOTO New York, September 24, 2006 OPRAH WINFREY leaving her midtown hotel in Manhattan. PGlg (Photo by LUIS GUERRA/ï¿½2006 Phil Ramey/RameyPix/Corbis via Getty Images)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Oprah Winfrey (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Mary J. Blige and Oprah Winfrey during 2007 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted by Graydon Carter - Arrivals at Mortons in West Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - DECEMBER 11: Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Hudson at the premiere of 'The Great Debaters' at the Arclight Theater on December 11, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Singer-actors BeBe Winans, Chaka Khan, producer Oprah Winfrey and singer-actress LaKisha Jones pose at the celebration for new Broadway cast members of The Color Purple Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans and LaKisha Jones at The Broadway Theater on January 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03: Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) (L) is joined by California First Lady Maria Shriver (C), and television host Oprah Winfrey (R), at a campaign rally for Obama in Pauley Pavilion at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) on February 3, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. Presidential candidates and their supporters are scrambling for votes in the final two days before Super Tuesday primaries on February 5. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Glenn Close and Oprah Winfrey arrives at The Hollywood Reporter's Annual Women In Entertainment Breakfast at Beverly Hills Hotel on December 5, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 07: Oprah Winfrey presents onstage during the 82nd Annual Academy Awards held at Kodak Theatre on March 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL-NOVEMBER 11: Photos for a Sunday Arts profile on Oprah Winfrey, who is a 2010 Kennedy Center Honor recipient in Chicago, Illinois on November 11, 2010 (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, D.C. - DECEMBER 04: Oprah Winfrey, one of the 2010 Kennedy Center honorees, poses for the formal class photo with his fellow honorees following the formal Artist's Dinner at the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C. on December 4, 2010. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images).
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 14: Oprah Winfrey addresses members of the audience during the second taping of the 'Oprah Winfrey Show' at the Sydney Opera House on December 14, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. 12,000 audience members were selected from 350,000 applicants to participate in two tapings of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' at the Sydney Opera House. Oprah descended on Australia last week with 302 super fans from the US, Canada and Jamaica to produce four shows for the 25th and final season of the program. the shows will air in the US and Australia in January 2011. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
(EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Annabella Sciorra and Oprah Winfrey pose backstage at the hit play 'The Motherf**ker with The Hat' on Broadway at The Schoenfeld Theater on April 30, 2011 in New York City. ***Exclusive*** (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 17: Aretha Franklin and Oprah Winfrey attend Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular at the United Center on May 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Timothy Hiatt/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: Ricky Lauren, Ralph Lauren and Oprah Winfrey attend an evening with Ralph Lauren hosted by Oprah Winfrey and presented at Lincoln Center on October 24, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Ralph Lauren)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECOMBER 1: Oprah Winfrey at the graduation ceremony on December 1, 2012, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Oprah came to South Africa for this year's graduation ceremony at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Kevin Sutherland)
AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 14: In this handout photo provided by the Oprah Winfrey Network, Oprah Winfrey (R) speaks with Lance Armstrong during an interview regarding the controversy surrounding his cycling career January 14, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Oprah Winfreyâs exclusive no-holds-barred interview with Lance Armstrong, 'Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive,' has expanded to air as a two-night event on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The special episode of 'Oprahâs Next Chapter' will air Thursday, January 17 from 9-10:30 p.m. ET/PT (as previously announced) and Friday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The interview will be simultaneously streamed LIVE worldwide both nights on Oprah.com. (Photo by George Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA- JANUARY 18: Actors Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey arrive at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 12: (L-R) Actors James Marsden, Oprah Winfrey and Minka Kelly attend the after party for LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER Los Angeles premiere, hosted by TWC, Budweiser and FIJI Water, Purity Vodka and Stack Wines, held at the Ritz-Carlton on August 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for TWC)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 12: Oprah Winfrey at the 'Lee Daniels' The Butler' Press Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel on August 12, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 12: Oprah Winfrey attends LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER Los Angeles premiere, hosted by TWC, Budweiser and FIJI Water, Purity Vodka and Stack Wines, held at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on August 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for TWC)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 16: Actress-TV personality Oprah Winfrey attends the 19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at Barker Hangar on January 16, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
SANTA BARBARA, CA - FEBRUARY 05: Oprah Winfrey presents onstage at The Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Arlington Theatre on February 5, 2014 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
SANTA BARBARA, CA - FEBRUARY 05: Oprah Winfrey visits The Moet & Chandon Lounge after receiving the Montecito Award at The Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Arlington Theatre on February 5, 2014 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 04: Producers Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg attend the 'The Hundred-Foot Journey' New York Premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on August 4, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Oprah Winfrey visits Social Square on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, airing 8/5/14, on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae AStute/ABC via Getty Images) OPRAH WINFREY
TELLURIDE, CO - AUGUST 29: Oprah Winfrey arrives at the screening of Wild at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival - Day 1 on August 29, 2014 in Telluride, Colorado. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images For Telluride Film Festival)
AUBURN HILLS, MI - SEPTEMBER 12: Oprah Winfrey speaks at The Palace of Auburn Hills for her Life You Want Tour on September 12, 2014 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)
SELMA, AL - JANUARY 18: EDITORIAL USE ONLY- Oprah Winfrey and John Legend stand before the crowd during a special live performance on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, on January 18, 2015 in Selma, Alabama. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 02: Producer/actress Oprah Winfrey attends the 87th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 2, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 14: Oprah Winfrey attends the 'Belief' New York premiere at TheTimesCenter on October 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 14: Oprah Winfrey visits CBS This Morning with Co-hosts Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Photo by Heather Wines/CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: Oprah Winfrey, Cynthia Erivo and Scott Sanders in the press room for the 70th Annual Tony Awards at the Beacon Theater on June 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Oprah Winfrey talks about her new drama series, the unscrupulous world of the Greenleaf family and their sprawling Memphis megachurch, on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, Thursday June 16 (7-9am, ET) airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) LARA SPENCER, OPRAH WINFREY
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Oprah Winfrey talks about her new drama series, the unscrupulous world of the Greenleaf family and their sprawling Memphis megachurch, on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, Thursday June 16 (7-9am, ET) airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) OPRAH WINFREY
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) and Oprah Winfrey (R) participate in a conversation on 'Trailblazing the Path for the Next Generation of Women' during the White House Summit on the United State Of Women June 14, 2016 in Washington, DC. The White House hosts the first ever summit to push for gender equality. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 15: Actress Oprah Winfrey attends the premiere of OWN's 'Greenleaf' at The Lot on June 15, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
BURBANK, CA - AUGUST 29: Executive producer Oprah Winfrey (L) and executive producer/creator Ava DuVernay attend OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network's ï¿½Queen Sugarï¿½ premiere at the Warner Bros. Studio Lot Steven J. Ross Theater on August 29, 2016 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Oprah Winfrey attends 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' premiere at SVA Theater on April 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
D23 EXPO 2017 - Saturday, July 15, 2017 - The Ultimate Disney Fan Event - brings together all the worlds of Disney under one roof for three packed days of presentations, pavilions, experiences, concerts, sneak peeks, shopping, and more. The event, which takes place July 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center, provides fans with unprecedented access to Disney films, television, games, theme parks, and celebrities. Image Group LA via Getty Images
OPRAH WINFREY, MINDY KALING, REESE WITHERSPOON, CHRIS PINE
MONTECITO, CA - OCTOBER 15: Author Oprah Winfrey and singer Margaret Bell perform at Oprah Winfrey's Gospel Brunch celebrating her new book 'Wisdom of Sundays' on October 15, 2017 in Montecito, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 03: Oprah Winfrey Speaks at Ron Clark Academy 10 Year Celebration at The Ron Clark Academy on November 3, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Oprah Winfrey attends a taping of 'Queen Sugar After-Show' at OWN on November 7, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
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Winfrey says she couldn't believe her health scare wasn't more serious, so she called a second doctor, who gave her the same diagnosis.
"I couldn’t believe it," she admits. "I’d worked myself up to a blood pressure reading of 150/80 thinking about how I was going to rearrange my life to deal with whatever this was. Drinking water and sucking on lemons couldn’t be the answer."
Winfrey is of course grateful that her swollen neck wasn't a symptom of something more serious, and says the incident did end up teaching her a lot about appreciating the complex ways the human body works.
"Our bodies are amazing," she marvels. "And too often we are not grateful for their perfect functioning, balancing bacteria and enzymes, managing blood flow, thrumming the sinus rhythm beat, beat, beat of our hearts day in, day out. As they say, you don’t appreciate your health until you no longer have it."
"Wherever you are in your life’s journey -- whatever the status of your career, your relationships, your finances, whether you’re successful or struggling, happy or not -- I know for sure that you need look no further than your own body to offer a prayer of thanksgiving," she continues. "Truly, you are a marvel."
"This whole P.C. about accepting yourself as you are -- you should, 100 percent," she told The New York Times Magazine. "[But] for your heart to pump, pump, pump, pump, it needs the least amount of weight possible to do that. So all of the people who are saying, 'Oh, I need to accept myself as I am' -- I can't accept myself if I'm over 200 pounds, because it’s too much work on my heart. It causes high blood pressure for me. It puts me at risk for diabetes, because I have diabetes in my family."