If You’ve Ever Worried You Might Be Sick, Here’s What Made These Folks Suspect They Had Cancer
by Trisha Leigh
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t worried at some point in their lives that they might have cancer. It’s the boogeyman lurking in the night, and thanks to the internet, most of our symptoms could be a tipoff for doctors.
These people have actually been diagnosed with cancer, though – and if you’re curious, here’s what made them make that appointment.
A persistent pain.
I had a persistent pain in the middle of my sternum. Doctors thought it was costochondritis (essentially just inflammation of a joint). I stopped working out and lifting heavy things for 3 months but it didn’t go away. Eventually I started having nightsweats and random aches.
After I fractured my hip, I got an MRI and biopsy and they diagnosed me with stage IV non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I got chemo and I’ve been in remission for 5 years.
Way to go, Dad.
I was fooling around in a mall as a kid. So My dad grabbed me by the neck to make me behave. He felt a lump on my neck and immediately began to get nervous.
We went to the doctor the next day, caught the cancer before it spread and was able to surgically remove it about a month later.
Got super lucky.
Just acting strange.
My dad was acting strange. He looked disheveled somewhat and was telling the same stories. Well he’s 86, that can come with age. But he was also swerving on the road driving and he called me one day to take him to his doctor.
Long story short, stage 4 GBM; brain cancer. Had surgery, was ok for a couple of months but was gone a couple months after that. Good part was, had had no pain and didn’t suffer.
Get the second opinion.
My sister noticed a small painful lump in her breast shortly after having her second child. Doctor diagnosed a blocked mammary gland.
A couple weeks later it still wasn’t gone. Again doc said blocked gland.
Months later it’s still not gone and she insists on getting a second opinion. Stage 3 breast cancer. Double mastectomy immediately followed by months of agonizing radiation and chemo only to find out it’s now stage four.
She’s been stable for a few years but now it’s spreading again and we don’t know how long we have w her. Trying to be as positive as possible.
He thought he had the flu.
My dad thought he had the flu & went to urgent care, by the end of the weekend he had started chemotherapy.
He had acute myeloid leukemia, made it 6 years though so not bad
It’s not easy.
My 33 year old husband was diagnosed with inoperable glioblastoma (most aggressive brain cancer) in January 2019, when he was 31. What caused him to get a check, was persistent headache that didn’t go away with paracetamols and sleep. We discovered the tumours after taking an MRI.
Needless to say, our lives were changed forever. Now we are at the end of our journey, and it’s been a harrowing experience for me as his wife and caregiver. It’s a lonely journey. I don’t wish it upon anyone and no one has any idea what glioblastoma is like, unless they have gone through it. The median survival time is 14-18 months.
We are on our 18th month now.. and given days/ weeks left. Every day is a gift, and I’m glad I get to be holding his hands every day, even if he’s resting and sleeping most of the time. As long as he is not in pain, and that the morphine patches are working, that is fine by me… I can’t handle him going through anymore pain.
A blind spot.
I was 17, getting ready for spring break back in 2010. Was making plans with my boyfriend on the phone because we were going to take his brothers to the zoo in a different city.
Literally in seconds there’s this big translucent blind spot in my eye that is orange. I can see dark shapes behind it but it’s super blurry.
I figured I would just go to the eye doctor before I left the next day, but my sister (who actually works for the cancer center in my city) told me that I should go to the hospital because anything weird with your vision can be super serious.
After 36 hours of Emergency waits, driving to specialists, they finally admitted me to the eye ward for a bacterial infection. Then they took my blood for a routine blood test.
Within an hour or so (as I was getting ready to sleep) a doctor and nurse come in. The nurse has a box of tissues. The doctor told me my “blood is leukemic” to which I asked “okay, can I treat that?” He was extremely unclear on what was happening, I was 17, my family had already left, and I had no idea about any cancers.
I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and started chemo that night after being transferred to a different hospital. They did a bone marrow biopsy the next morning and then sent it to a genetic lab in another province. When the test results came back they changed my diagnosis to Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia in the Blast Phase Crisis (final stage) that was caused by the Philadelphia Chromosome – where chromosomes 9 and 22 switch places and causes a mutation in my red blood cells.
Told me I was the youngest person in the world with it, as CML usually takes a very long time to progress and the final stage doesn’t show until around 65 years of age. That change in diagnosis changed my timeline. They had originally said 6 months to a year untreated, but now it was 1-3 months if I didn’t get a stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant.
All this because I had blood clots happening all over my body because of the abnormalities of my red blood cell shapes – and the one in my eye presented itself in my vision since the vessels are so small.
Not simple weight gain.
My head and neck area became very swollen. At first I thought I was just getting fat, so I worked out a lot and ate better. This did not help. I also went to a local clinic and they thought it might be an allergic reaction and gave me steroids, which also didn’t help. The thing that finally made me go to the emergency room and not leave until I had an answer is that I started to develop unexplained bruises on my chest.
Turns out I had a huge tumor in my chest which had grown around my heart and was compressing the superior vena cava so blood couldn’t flow back down from my head. Not great!
The good news is that it turned out to be very treatable and I’ve been cancer free for 11 years now.
Out of nowhere.
Seizures. I got seizures out of nowhere during the night. No history of seizures in my family. Got my head screened and they found what they thought to be a benign tumor.
Anaplastic Astrocytoma, diagnosed two months before my 22nd birthday.
Nearing the 5-year mark, though, with no evidence of it returning!
A second lump.
Funnily enough, it was a totally unrelated lump.
“Nope, that lump is fine, just a lipoma. However, we found another lump in the corner of your xray and we need to biopsy it”.
An odd array.
My brother was 11 when he started experiencing symptoms. He started losing a lot of weight, and when he was playing soccer it looked like he was running through mud and couldn’t keep up with everyone else. My parents took him to the pediatrician and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
One day, he woke up and couldn’t stop throwing up. When he tried to run to the bathroom, he kept running into the door frame and couldn’t walk straight. He said the lights were giving him a headache.
We took him to the emergency room and they found that he had a brain tumor, and had emergency brain surgery the next day. We were extremely lucky that they decided to do a CAT scan at the ER, apparently they don’t usually do them on kids.
Two brain surgeries and a year and a half of chemo later, and he is in remission now!
It’s not normal.
Super heavy periods that would last for 10 or more days. Got an iud to help control bleeding. Actually hemorrhaged so bad the iud came out. Endometrial Cancer, huge tumor in my uterus.
Ladies, it’s not normal to need a tampon and pad at the same time. It’s not normal to need to change them every 10 minutes or even every hour.
An average period is 2-3 Tablespoons, just for reference. Sorry if TMI.
Two big things.
PSA: unintended weight loss or finding blood where you normally wouldn’t. Get yourself to a doctor.
This is crazy.
On Christmas Eve 2018, my Dad lost the ability to talk except for the phrase “this is crazy.” Called paramedics because we thought he’d had a stroke.
Got him to the hospital where the imaging showed a brain tumor on the outside edge of his brain. The swelling caused him to have a seizure. He was transferred to a bigger local hospital.
They did full body scans because it’s pretty rare to just have brain cancer- usually it’s a secondary for another cancer site. We got lucky in that it was the sole spot.
Went through a craniotomy and 5 rounds of high dose inpatient chemo, and he’s one year in remission!
Something felt different.
Testicular Cancer survivor here. I had a dull pain one day in my right testicle. Didn’t think much of it. I then took a shower and my ball felt different, it wasn’t smooth. I just felt that something was different.
I went to my doctor and asked him to check them to make sure things were normal. He did the check and didn’t think things felt off but ordered an ultrasound anyway.
I went and did the ultrasound, and I didn’t hear what they found. They just asked me to go back for another ultrasound. The next day I got told I had to go to the hospital to see the urologist.
Within minutes of meeting the doctor, he told me I had testicular cancer and was having surgery that night. It happened so fast. I caught mine early. Now I tell everyone to feel your balls and know your normal.
Thanks to the kitty.
My cat found my cancer and bugged me about it until I went to the doctor.
My cat has always like to lay on me and “knead” part of my body with her paws. For 7 years it was random, various parts of my body. Then for about 6 months she started to focus on one spot on my chest. At first I chalked it up to her wanting to be closer to my face, but after a couple months I noticed that the spot she was focused on had become very tender. Then I felt a small lump in that spot.
Due to my (relatively young age), it took me a couple of months to convince one of my doctors that it was a potential issue, but eventually I got tested and had a pretty giant tumor in that spot (plus other tumors elsewhere).
Yes, kitty got lots of cuddles, wet food, and Greenies as a thank you.
That will definitely do it.
Last year (March 2019) I (male, 35) woke up in the morning to go to the toilet. I was urinating pure, thick blood with little lumps in it. So after a severe panic attack it began to hurt like hell. I was throwing up from the pain.
After a day in the hospital and some scans and tests later, they told me to call my parents. So you know you’re getting some bad news. It turns out it was kidney cancer.
They removed my right kidney, fortunately no other treatments were needed, and I’m living the best life right now.
If the tumor in my kidney didn’t started to bleed I would have found out much much later, probably to late.
These are really fascinating stories.
I hope you find them as oddly comforting as I did.