General Health

‘The 6 Cancer Symptoms I Shouldn’t Have Ignored’

Christina McKnight was 27 years old when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She was young, fit, and healthy. Christina had just completed a half marathon and been promoted at work.

She started to feel tired and experience brain fog but assumed it was just stress from the new job.

It turned out to be something much more than just stress – they were cancer symptoms.

‘Symptoms I ignored that were thyroid cancer ‘

Christina shares her story through a Facebook reel, explaining the six symptoms that she ignored for weeks, that turned out to be symptoms of thyroid cancer:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Brain fog
  • Slow weight gain
  • Confusion and irritability
  • Not wanting to workout or exercise when she used to love it
  • Brittle hair and dry skin

 “It was one of those things that I never thought would happen to me. I was young, fit and healthy and had no known hereditary thyroid disease in the family at all,” Christina told the Independent.

mum central
Source: Facebook

It’s understandable that Christina didn’t think anything of her symptoms at first. Most of us experience waves of exhaustion every now and then. We also tend to have irritable days (especially when the kids demand 15 snacks in 30 minutes). Another worrying thing is that these symptoms are also very common in perimenopause so many women don’t even think to go for a checkout.

If Christina had her way, she wouldn’t have done a thing about these unusual symptoms.

‘I kept brushing it all off’

However, her husband, Mathew, noticed his wife was struggling a lot more than she let on.

“I couldn’t get stuff done like I used to. I would have to go to work on a Sunday to catch up because my brain was so foggy. 

My husband literally had to MAKE me go to the doctor because I kept thinking it was just my promotion at work. He could see I was struggling way more than what was normal with all of the symptoms. 

Christina’s doctor recognised the thyroid cancer symptoms and got the ball rolling immediately. Thyroid cancer starts in the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck.

“He felt my neck and found a lump which I wasn’t even aware of,” she said.

sore neck - thyroid cancer symptoms
Source: Bigstock

Christina went through a thyroidectomy to have her thyroid removed as well as radioactive iodine ablation treatment. One year later, she got the all-clear.

Take the changes in your body seriously

Christina openly discusses her cancer journey to help raise awareness and to support women who are going through a similar thing. As she openly writes on Facebook,

When I had cancer I was so embarrassed. That sounds crazy, right? I was used to being front and center but my diagnosis made me want to crawl into a hole and disappear. It took me years of therapy to overcome my “shame” for surviving when so many people I knew and loved were dying around me from this disease.

And you know what? It is still a process. I am 35 now and only recently started opening up about it in an honest and authentic way.”

We’ve shared a lot of stories of women who assume their symptoms are just signs of parenting burnout or stress. In most instances, being tired, or irritable, or even experiencing dry skin won’t mean you have cancer. But you need to err on the side of caution.

“If left unaddressed I would have never found out I had cancer,” Christina explained. “I just want everyone to be aware and take the changes in their body seriously and spread awareness of thyroid cancer.” 

Cancer symptoms to be aware of

According to the Cancer Council, below are some of the cancer symptoms to be aware of. Keep in mind, however, that these symptoms can mean A LOT of different things. These changes usually don’t mean you have cancer, but it’s important to see your GP if you notice any potential symptoms.

  • Unexplained ache or pain
  • Persistent headache or blurred vision (two or more headaches a week)
  • Weakness in limbs and dizziness (for more than a couple of days)
  • Abnormal sweating, especially at night
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unusual lump or swelling (including breasts and neck)
  • Unusual breast changes
  • Seizures
  • Unexplained bleeding or blood (vaginal bleeding, coughing up blood, vomiting blood, blood in stool or urine)
  • Fatigue
  • Sore that won’t heal
  • New mole or changes to a mole and other skin changes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Persistent cough
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Croaky voice or hoarseness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mouth ulcer that won’t heal (after 14 days)
  • Changes in bowel habits (diarrhea,  constipation or more frequent bowel movements)
  • Change in bladder habits (having to urinate more often or not being able to urinate when you feel the urge or experiencing pain when urinating)
  • Persistent bloating

If you notice any changes to your body that you can’t explain, or experience any symptoms, you should see your doctor. Changes and symptoms are often a sign of something other than cancer but if it is cancer, it is important to find it early.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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