Image by Konstantin Kolosov from Pixabay

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying, even traumatizing, for any individual. It can send their life into upheaval and strike fear into their hearts as they worry about the possibility of needing to settle their estates or attend to their family members. But most cancers are survivable. It's a lot easier to get through it, too, if you know what you're looking for and go to a doctor the second you feel something might not be right.

After Redditor BarooTangClan asked the online community, "Survivors of cancer, how did you know something was wrong and what did it feel like before you found out?" people shared their experiences.

"Don't drive yourself nuts..."

Testicular seminoma stage 1 here.

No joke, it just didn't feel right. I had a weird discomfort/ache - not even a pain above my crotch, and not even in my testicles. It essentially didn't go away for a few weeks, and I figured that enough was enough.

Self-checks are super easy if you know what you're looking for. I felt no lumps, and after CT/MRI confirmed cancer, the doctor at the cancer hospital put my finger on the very obvious lump that I missed.

Don't drive yourself nuts here (lol). It's an awkward thing to get checked out, but you can very easily get cleared by an ultrasound if there's something questionable, or things don't feel right.

Listen to your damn body. If things don't feel right, don't lose sleep - just get that checked out by a professional.


"It didn't go away..."

Got a stomach ache.

It didn't go away, some days were not so bad, other days slightly worse. Never agonizing but constant. I ignored it for a long time because it wasn't "that bad."

JK, it was ovarian cancer.


"In the lead up..."

Diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia in Feb 2003. In the lead-up, I was even more tired than usual, short of breath just climbing a set of stairs, had unexplained bruises. Turns out my platelets were 1/20th of the bottom end of the normal range and my RBC was less than half. Went to the dr who must have had an inkling because she sent me for a blood test, with a fairly detailed range of tests to be performed. She came to my house that afternoon (a Saturday) to deliver the news. Chemo and tablets and I've been in remission for coming up to 17 years.


"This time..."

I only knew something was wrong because I did a self-breast exam - I do them regularly. So I felt a lump, but I've felt lumps plenty of times before. I've had lots of mammograms and ultrasounds - all benign. This time it was cancer though.

I didn't feel any different.


"Less than a week later..."

I had this really weird chest pain. I would wake up feeling fine, but it came on over the course of the day, I had shortness of breath, tightness in my chest, and just constant pain at night. Went to my general practitioner who noticed a murmur and ordered an EKG. A cardiologist who worked in the same practice took a look and was the one to notice the mass that was pressing up against my heart.

Less than a week later I had a biopsy, more EKGs, and Cat Scans done to narrow it down. I'll always say that the weirdest part for me is that the chest pains went away after going to the doctor. There wasn't even anything they did that would have stopped the pain, and I didn't start chemo for another month after that.


"If you find a lump..."

Lumps are not normal. Sometimes they are safe but that doesn't mean it is normal. If you find a lump that wasn't there. Get it checked. With cancer, the earlier the better because cancer spreads, and if it gets to a vital organ and/or overruns your body it could be too late or make the treatment more intense than it needed to be.

I had to do 6 weeks of chemo instead of 9 because we caught it early enough.


"And then I felt..."

20 yrs ago, I could just feel an uncomfortable tingling in my pelvic region. I went to an OBGYN only to find out I had Stage II cervical cancer. After many cervix sparing surgeries and a couple of rounds with interferon, within a period of 6 months, I was declared NED.

Fast forward to 20 years later and I started hemorrhaging to the point of needing blood transfusions and was exhausted, but rationalized it as being anemic, due to months of menorrhagia. I was also bleeding after sex.

And then I felt that sickening uncomfortable tingling again and pushed for a Pap that showed the cancer came back (more like it never went away). Two surgeries in the past six months and in 11 hrs from now, I will have the results of a DNA biopsy. Sleep isn't happening tonight.


"I couldn't breathe..."

I couldn't breathe through my left nostril, despite taking antihistamines. Turns out it was a stage II tumor in the back of my nasal passages. Chemo and radiation impacts were worse on me than the tumor, but necessary. Four years on and now I'm all better.


"I could lie on my back..."

9-year survivor of rare ovarian cancer.

I could feel my tumour. I could lie on my back and feel a solid mass in my pelvis. I had the typical ovarian cancer symptoms too. I knew this wasn't normal so I went to my doctor who sent me for imaging. I went to a gynecologist who thought it was a fibroid as it was the likely culprit due to my age. It wasn't until they did the histology of the mass that was removed until I found out what it was (a week after surgery). One month before my 25th birthday I was told I needed chemo. I started chemo 2 days after Xmas in 2011. My specific tumour responds to chemo and unlikely to return.

I was meant to be on a contiki trip but instead I had cancer treatment.


"And then more and more."

Horrible cramps right after I ate. And then more and more. Plus a bit of blood during #2. Thought it was hemorrhoids, but I wanted to be sure since I was hoping to have another baby. Colonoscopy revealed a lemon/sized tumor. Stage 2a. Surgery, 6 months of chemo. 10.5 years cancer-free. And my daughter is 6 this Spring. I was in no risk group and I was in my early 30s. Just never know.


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