14 Cancer Survivors Reveal The First Symptoms That Something Was Wrong

February 13, 2019 | No Comments » | Topics: TRUTH

(photo: @anthonytran)

1. I was scratching my balls and felt a hard knot. Froze for like ten seconds, panicking internally, thinking it’s definitely cancer then remembered that cancer is actually pretty rare and it’s far more likely to just be a cyst or something. Went to the doctor anyway because I’m not an idiot. It was cancer.


2. Felt like shit all the time. Fatigued constantly and losing my physical strength. Finally went to my family doctor who said it was just aging. Went for a second opinion and they found high cancer markers in my blood test. Spent the next few months going back and forth to various specialist while they tried to pin point it. Finally turned out to be both lymphatic and testicular cancer. I was very lucky. I lost six lymph nodes and a treacherous left testicle and came out of it clean after having to do very little treatment. But with what I went through (and what I spent!) I have a new respect for people who survive more severe forms of cancer.


3. For me it started with my eyes in my late 30s. Felt perfectly fine otherwise, but my eyes would have these weird all-over “flashes”, kind of like what you see after you stare too long at the sun, especially when I was moving from dark to light places (like waking up in the morning, or turning on a light in a dark room at night). Got my eyes checked, doc said my retinas had some severe “high pressure areas” and it might be the start of macular degeneration. I got some new glasses and went on with life figuring this was just going to be my new normal.


Thank fucking god I had a routine yearly doctor’s exam scheduled about 2 months after that. I felt 100% fine other than this weird eye thing, but the routine blood work came back so bad my doctor actually threw the first results away, saying it had to be a lab error. Second results came back even worse, and they sent me to a cancer specialist. Rare type of bone marrow cancer.

They caught it early, and its highly treatable with a 95% chance of living a relatively normal life afterward. But if they hadn’t, I’d have been in critical condition, maybe dead, within a couple of years. Turns out my system was so overloaded with cancerous white blood cells that my blood was thick like potato soup. It was blowing out the veins in my eyes, which resulted in those “flashes”. They went away after about the first 2 weeks of treatment.



4. Randomly ended up so sick i was bed bound for a month. Got every test for the flu/cold/viruses they could think of. Ended up getting an ultrasound on my stomach; they saw a mass while doing so and also scanned my pelvic area. Turned out to be ovarian cancer but luckily for me it was contained in the football sized tumor attached to my right ovary, which i obviously didn’t know was there. Month later i was cut open, had it removed. Minus one ovary and the constant fear it’ll come back later and I’m cancer free.. For now.


5. Ewing’s sarcoma, diagnosed at age 12.

The first time I remember noticing it was during a volleyball game. I spiked and landed and felt a sharp pain in my left thigh.

I ignored it and it would bother me on and off for a few months. I was trying not to let my parents worry, because my older sister has CF and was going through a rough patch. I was limping most of the time, but occasionally it wouldn’t hurt at all.

One day I was walking downstairs at school and as I took a step I was blinded by pain, screamed and collapsed. By the time my mom got to school to pick me up it was barely a dull ache, but she said we should get xrays just in case. This was around 5 months after the volleyball pain.

And, cancer. I started treatment immediately. 13 months of chemo, ~100 nights in hospital. Two years of physical therapy to lose my limp.


6. August 1st, 2015. I woke up and felt a strange pressure in my chest. The night before I had picked something up and I figured I just strained myself. Didn’t think much of it.

Until around November. I started getting itchy. Like, really itchy. Mostly on my legs, but pretty much everywhere. I always struggled with having itchy skin after a hot shower, so at first I didn’t pay it too much attention, until it started getting annoying. I tried new shampoos and body wash, washed and changed my sheets, looked for bed bugs, lice, anything I could think of.

Finally, on March 31st 2016, a few weeks after my 21st birthday, I was just getting into bed when I coughed. Now, for context, I also suffer from frequent bloody noses. So I’m used to coughing and having a bloody nose.

But this time when I coughed, I felt blood coming from down inside of me, rather than up from my nose.

I immediately grabbed a cup and started coughing up blood into it, right next to my girlfriend in bed. I managed to tell her to call 911, and I threw myself into the bathroom.

And there I was, holding on to the sink for dear life, coughing up more and more blood. I couldn’t stop, every time I tried to catch my breath I would feel a tickle and have to cough, sending more blood out. That bathroom looked like the elevator from the Shining by the end of it.

Finally, ten minutes goes by, and the ambulance arrives. I had basically made my peace with this world and was prepared to let go… but then the coughing finally subsided, and I could breathe again without coughing up blood.

Took a ride to the ER. They kept me for a week, poking and prodding me, doing tests. I almost got sent home with a diagnosis of turberculos. But finally they confirmed it was cancer. Stage four hodgkin’s lymphoma to be exact.

Sounds bad and scary, but out of all the types of cancers known, this one is fairly easy to cure and has a high success rate of not reoccurring.

So, I did chemo for 6 months. That sucked. Finished in October 2016. I’m just about to go into my last post treatment check up tomorrow, and hopefully if everything is good I won’t have to keep getting check ups every year.

Interestingly, however, I always had a feeling in my mind that one day I would get cancer. I can’t exactly describe why I thought this, but I did. And it turned out to be true.

Everyone, go get yourself checked out. You do not want to wait to long and let things progress. Do what you can to have good health, because without it we are nothing.


7. Testicular Cancer, 20 Years Old

For me it was rather obvious, lots of pain in my abdomen and one of the “boys” was about 4x the size of the other. That being said, usually it ISN’T that obvious, so guys always remember to check your junk in the shower. I had an inguinal orchiectomy, and I’m currently going through chemo.


8. When I was walking to class one day in high school (I’m now 23) and my legs just gave out and I collapsed to the floor. Had to have a random student walking by help me to my feet, and even then I wasn’t stable. I had been having weird symptoms for the month prior, but that was the one thing that really made me think that something was wrong.

Turned out to be a rare type of bone marrow cancer called POEMS Syndrome that only few other adolescents have ever had. At least that’s what my doctors have told me.

Unfortunately, I’ve recently relapsed, but recent blood work has been looking really good so hopefully I’m back in remission soon!


9. I was studying in grad school looking down and reading frequently when I began to feel vague neck discomfort. I ignored it for a few weeks but told my then girlfriend. Then I noticed an asymmetrical bulge in my neck. I wanted to blow it off until our year long finals were over but my girlfriend insisted I get checked out. It was thyroid cancer. I went through 2 surgeries and radiation therapy but fortunately I’ve been cancer free for 5 years now!

Don’t ignore your body when something feels off, and don’t try to “treat yourself” when it comes to medicine


10. I have had cancer twice. Both times testicular cancer, each time was independent from one another.

First time was 4 years ago. It was a rare form of testicular cancer, not actually in the testicles. By the time it was found, it had spread to the pancreas, liver and lungs. I had been very(!) sick for weeks, and near the diagnosis pretty much vomiting all day and night, unable to eat and sleep. So you could say, I noticed early on when I was sick more than the usual fever-duration, but had no idea what it was until doctors figured it out.

Luckily, treatment was effective, so about 4 months later I was back up and running. Only chemo, no operation needed.

Second time happened just a few months ago, when I noticed one of my testicles being slightly sore. Didn’t feel out of the ordinary, but decided to have it checked. Doctor didn’t feel anything, but because of my history, decided to have it scanned. Early stage cancer, surgery did the job. Back up and running again – no chemo needed this time around 🙂

Today, I’m 27 years. Blessed with a 1-year-old son and a loving wife. Life is good after all!

General advice if you ever have a suspicion: do yourself a favour and have it checked. Catch it early on and not only do you improve your chances of surviving, you also get ease of mind.


11. Probably when my stomach was starting to hurt extremely fucking bad. I had lymphoma at the age of 10, and I was taken to the emergency room after I was vomiting blood because there was nothing else in my stomach. The day before, the nurse sent me home from school because of my extreme stomach pains. Luckily we caught it very early so it wasn’t too bad, but it sure as hell wasnt fun.

Though oddly enough, even though I had cancer, I never once thought about myself dying in the hospital. Maybe because I was so young, but I just simply enjoyed my time by playing on the Xbox they had in there and the gifts I was given. I also watched Jumanji maybe 20 times over.

It’s been about 6 years since I’ve been free. I am in my junior year of High School in the IB program and will be turning 17 in two months.


12. Just over a year ago, I had been increasingly tired and fatigued over a period of 6 months. I had also been dealing with lower leg swelling, to the point that I could barely wear shoes. I had been out with my mom and was so out of breath I couldn’t walk the 100 yards or so into a grocery store.

I was admitted to the hospitalwith a hemoglobin of 4, and incredibly low thyroid levels. Fast forward a day or two and I start with what can only be described, without being gross, as an incredibly irregular period. I was scheduled for a uterine biopsy a few weeks after discharge and was found to have endometrial cancer.

We attempted the conservative course of treatment as I’m only 32 and have not had kids yet. This was all fine and well until January when 2 masses were found in my uterine wall. Fast forward two months and an MRI shows that even on hormone suppression therapy, the masses were growing. I had a complete hysterectomy on March 29 of this year. One of the masses was 70% through the uterine wall. Luckily my lymph nodes were clear and I didn’t need chemo or radiation.


13. Brain tumour – diagnosed at 22. But I was asymptomatic. I had no headaches, no blurred vision, no change in personality. Just weight gain. Had I not been a vain bugger, and wanting a quick pill to sort it out, I would never have gone to the doc and had a blood test. My bloods came back all highly irregular – fast forward 6 months of tests – brain tumour.


14. First bout with cancer was my brain tumor. I was having a business meeting with a contractor who was doing some graphic design work for my company. I’d had a few brain farts over the last couple of months where I’d been trying to say a word, but just couldn’t come up with it. I brushed them off as ‘tip of my tongue’ type brain farts and ignored them. In this meeting I got stuck on the word ‘and’. I figured this is ridiculous and forced it but what came out was “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH” and I don’t remember anything after that other than waking up in the hospital.

Turns out I had an oligodendroglioma which had been pressing up against my speech center and had grown to the point where it was screwing with my ability to talk. It’s incredibly rare (<4% of all brain tumors) and only found in men in their 40’s. It’s also almost never diagnosed until you have a seizure, which is what happened in the meeting. Apparently the contractor was traumatized as I fell out my chair and thrashed on the floor, ambulances came, etc. I woke up on a gurney with an ER doc calmly telling me that the CAT scan had found a golf-ball sized lump in my brain that wasn’t supposed to be there and that I should probably go see an oncologist about that…

That was over a decade ago. Oligodendrogliomas respond well to resection, chemo and radiation treatment and I’ve been fine ever since. The second bout was this year when a polyp found during a routine colonoscopy had cancerous material in it and they decided to do a lower colon resection in an abundance of caution. Turns out one of the 20+ lymph nodes they removed along with the bottom 10″ of my colon had some cancer in it so I spent about 12 weeks this summer on a MUCH more intensive course of chemotherapy than my brain tumor. That was a nasty ride, but I should be fine now.

Fuck cancer.

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