There is no doubt about it that Cancer is a disease that has affected nearly every person on the planet. At one point or another we have known, we have had, or we have experienced some kind of cancer in our lives. When, however, does one realize that they are sick with cancer? What kind of symptoms of cancer do these people exhibit?
People of the internet banded together to share their own stories through Reddit, which many feature heartbreak, happiness, tragedy and even hope. Many people have experienced tragedy when it comes to this terrible disease, but it’s important to remember that medical breakthroughs happen every year, and treatment for Cancer is better than it ever has been in history.
The following Reddit users share their stories to help inform the public about when they first realized they had symptoms of Cancer, and hopefully their symptoms may be an early warning sign for you to get checked out today. When was the last time you had a yearly physical? It never hurts to get looked at!
1) Itchy legs: The time I noticed something was wrong was one day I started itching my legs like crazy. At the end of the day, my socks were red with blood. My doctor said it was probably dry skin and I had to moisturize. Next, there was a pain in my chest so I stopped moving too much. Then it hurt when I was lifting weights. Then I lost my appetite. I felt generally really awful so I went back to the doctor. After he looked at me, the next day my mother and sister saw me in the hospital waiting for surgery. The next few months I had chemo and radiation for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. When I had lump after lump, I thought it was the end. Fortunately, I’ve had almost everything removed and I’m hoping this is all behind me now.
2) Walking To School: I was 11 and I had a 10-minute walk to school. I noticed I was tired all the time. Eventually, my 10-minute walk would become an hour long walk, as I needed frequent breaks just to get to school. A kid in my grade school class joking but ironically said that If I was tired all the time that she read in a magazine it means you have cancer. I was falling asleep in class and sleeping on average of 15-16 hours a night. Finally, my doctor sent me in for blood tests. The next day, the police show up at my house and as a kid I thought I was going to jail. Police said that my tests were so low, that they were there to escort me to the hospital. I had 4 transfusions in one night and said I could have died. Turns out I had Leukaemia. I’m 28 now and have been off treatment and healthy for a good decade!
3) Blood In Urine: My perfectly healthy husband noticed one night that he had blood in his urine. He went to the walk-in clinic, and the doctor thought he had a urinary infection. However, it didn’t get better. He got tested and on Christmas Eve, got a phone call from our doctor who told him he had Kidney Cancer. His surgery took 4 hours and the doctor stepped aside to tell me his tumor was the size of a standard football. So it was the blood in his urine that was the first sign. We’re still battling this disease together.
4) Leukaemia Survivor: I was a Leukaemia survivor. The terrifying thing is, how ordinary the symptoms were. I didn’t feel necessarily sick, but I was tired all the time. I had a weird rash on my legs too. My lips were chapped and bleeding which I blamed on the dry air in the area. What got me to go to the hospital was that my roommate found a bruise on the back of my arm where I was certain I hadn’t injured myself. She talked me into seeing a doctor and I’m very thankful she did. My roommate probably saved my life. All my symptoms were a sign of internal bleeding, and my cancer cells crowded out my platelets. My blood was so incredibly thin that I would have been in serious danger if I got the smallest cut. I sought treatment and luckily I’m in remission now. I’m lucky to be alive.
5) The Cough That Wouldn’t Stop: Last November, I developed a cough that just wouldn’t stop. After Thanksgiving, I started coughing up blood. I was diagnosed with pneumonia, but the meds didn’t work. Eventually, I was referred to a specialist who diagnosed me with a different kind of pneumonia, but the meds for that didn’t help. Finally, I was sent to a pathologist, who scheduled a biopsy. I start walking with a cane because it was like running a marathon just to head to the bathroom. After a bad night and a phone call from the hospital, I went to Emergency and was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I’ve been undergoing chemo, and the signs are hopeful that I’ll go into remission.
6) Mother: Not my experience, but my mother’s. She started feeling pain on her side, but it wasn’t completely awful pain so she just dealt with it. I convinced her to go to a doctor and that she gets checked. Turns out she had stage 3 pancreatic cancer. So the first sign was the pain in her side that she refused to get checked.
7) My Knee: My left knee was always sore. It didn’t hurt, but it ached all the time. I thought I injured it playing sports so I scheduled an appointment with a specialist. He took an x-ray and found a ‘calcium deposit’ on the film and sent me home. Next day, he calls me up and says he scheduled me a hospital appointment the next day. I told him it would have to wait until after school, but he said rather seriously that I had to go immediately. Turns out I had a rare tumor called Chondromyxoid fibroma. I had it removed immediately, and thankfully haven’t had any complications since.
8) The Bleeding: I started bleeding from my privates a tiny bit every day. My doctor thought it might be a side effect of birth control, so we agreed that I should wait and see if it stops after 3 months. Then I started feeling pain down there after having intercourse, and I would bleed during the act. I was sent to a gynecologist, and the first thing she says to me was “I see you never had a screening. That isn’t very smart.” which I agreed. She found a polyp in my uterus and something on my cervix. She takes samples of the tissue and I and scheduled to get the polyp removed in the hospital. I get a call that the polyp was harmless, but the spot on my cervix turned out to be cancer. Fast forward a few months, and I’ve had several lumps removed, most of my privates removed, and I had chemo. I’m doing better now, but now it’s my mission to inform all of my lady friends to get properly screened.
9) Bowel Issues: My mom started having tons of bowel issues, which ranged from constipation to diarrhea. She started to see blood in her stool and doctors told her she had hemorrhoids. But a year later she was still having pain, bleeding, and this time bleeding while urinating. The doctor told her it was a UTI and she went home. She finally got a second opinion from another doctor, who immediately ordered a colonoscopy. She was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and it spread to her bladder and liver. She braved it out for a year then lost her battle in 2015. I promised her and myself that I’d share her story to prevent others from going through the same thing. Listen to yourself and your body and know your family history.
10) Zero Symptoms: I never had any symptoms. The only reason I found out that I had cancer was that I was having a routine exam at my gynecologist. They said that my pap smear test results came back abnormal. When I stop to think about it, it’s crazy to wonder that something could be so horribly wrong without any indication whatsoever. I’m glad I got screened. Now I tell everyone to go for routine tests.
11) The Lump: I was showing one night and I noticed a lump in my breast. I showed my boyfriend and he said he could also feel it. I immediately made a doctors appointment. After a few tests, a mammogram and a biopsy of the lump. A week after I got a call asking to come into the hospital immediately. I had to have a partial mastectomy and then an additional 6 months of chemotherapy. I’m in my second year of therapy and doing well.
12) Always Tired: I had a Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The first thing I noticed I was more tired than usual. Like, tired all the time. Sometimes I’d wake up in the night gasping for air, feeling like something was crushing my chest. I found a lump in my neck a week later. I saw a doctor who ordered a CT scan that shows I had a mass inside me. It’s weird to me now that I didn’t put the dots together, but I’m glad I finally sought treatment. I am past one year of chemo and doing well!
13) Color Blind: I’m color blind and I had been coughing up dark mucus for a few weeks and thought I just had a really bad cold. My wife looks at it and says “you know you’re coughing up blood right?” after seeing one of my kleenexes. Two months later, I had my left lung and testicle removed due to metastatic testicular cancer. Yay for being color blind!
14) It Happens So Fast: I was surprised by how fast everything happened. I was coughing a lot. The doctor said it might be bronchitis but wanted an x-ray. Afterwards, he immediately sends me to a specialist because he thinks it’s cancer. Next day I see a specialist and he tells me I have stage 2 lung cancer, but it’s just a small spot. Next day he finds out it’s actually bigger than he thought. A week later I had surgery and got an upper left lobectomy and had lymph nodes removed. I didn’t smoke a day of my life. Not only smokers get lung cancer.
15) Flipping Off My Friend: In my first semester of college, a friend and I would flip each other the bird every day. One day I realized I couldn’t flip the bird anymore, and I thought it was arthritis or sore muscles or something from doing it so much. Then I felt a lump in my forearm, and I could feel it if I rested my arm on things. I got it looked at and I spent a year doing chemo.
16) My Dad’s Skin: My dad’s skin started drying out. After a while, his skin began to yellow a bit. He complained about being itchy. I convinced him to go to the ER. They rushed him into surgery and put a stint in his bile duct. Turns out he had pancreatic cancer. He survived and after a large surgery, he’s doing better. It’s been 4 years and he’s healthy. (Reddit user: new-aged)
17) My Stubborn Mother: God bless my stubborn mother. She strongly insisted and would argue with our family doctor to send her for a mammogram starting at the age of 40. At 41 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. No symptoms. They caught it early enough that a double mastectomy, some chemotherapy, and radiation put her into remission. She’s been doing well for 18 years now. Insist on your scans and checkups people. (Reddit user: chill-chihuahua)
18) My Swimming Girlfriend: My girlfriend was a semi-competitive swimmer back in her school days. She thought she swam harder than usual because she had some chest pain after her practice. Later in the night, she developed a cough. He father was a great physician and put 2 and 2 together. He felt her lymph nodes and it turns out they were swollen. She was sent for a test and turns out she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She’s been 6 years cancer free. (Reddit user: Veklor_Tal)
19) Frequent Urination: I started having to pee a lot more often at night. Not to be gross, but my semen was also less and less in volume. My urologist confirmed that I developed prostate cancer at the age of 60. Two years later after surgery, radiation, and therapy, I am totally cancer-free. (Reddit user: SpikeandMike)
20) My Daughter: My daughter was 4 years old when she started to experience severe leg pain. It got worse and worse, and it kept her awake one night. I immediately rushed her to the urgent care unit, which escalated into being transported via helicopter to a children’s hospital. She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She’s 6 years old now and finished all of her treatments and is totally cancer free. I’m so thankful to all the doctors who helped her. (Reddit user: quack_quack_moo)
21) My Sister Couldn’t Poop: My oldest sister had a life-long hang up about pooping in any bathroom other than her own. She always held it and never pooped anywhere. In her mid-40s, she got especially bad constipation that lasted nearly 13 days. She felt like hell and finally saw a doctor. Turns out she had Stage IV colon cancer. She couldn’t poo because the growth was blocking the waste from exiting her colon. She had a lot of struggles after that including a divorce, but thankfully she’s in remission. (Reddit user: typeObloodsausage)
22) Back And Ribs: I’m an accountant and after some bad back pain as well as my ribs, it got written off as having poor posture. I spent a year in physiotherapy, but the pain would never go away. I eventually went for a complete physical, including scans and the works. I had swelling under my breast, and my doctor sent me for additional imaging. Turns out I had bone cancer. My rib was consumed by the cancer, and it was pushing back towards my spine. After three months of chemo and losing a large portion of my ribcage in surgery, we think we caught it in time. I have more chemo to go, but I’m hoping to win this war. (Reddit user: XenusMom)
23) Brain Cancer Survivor: I had pediatric brain cancer. I was getting migraines over the course of a few years. They started happening more frequently, and I was ultra sensitive to light or sound. No amount of pain medications seemed to fix it. Then it got so bad that my whole left side of my body went numb, and I went to emergency. I went for an MRI and they found a golf ball sized tumor in my frontal lobe. To make a long story short, I got it removed and got a metal plate in my head in its place. It was a super rare form of cancer. I was told I was the twelfth person to ever have it, and the third to survive it. (Reddit user: Nickipps)
24) Get A Check Up: I was never sick, and I never felt bad. But I went into for a yearly check-up and my doctor noticed something funny about my lymph nodes. They got me in contact with an oncologist and it turned out I had Leukaemia. I will be fine, modern medicine is amazing, but if you’re feeling strange go get a checkup. It could save your life. (Reddit user: HisHornsAreDifferent)