I had to have surgery for skin cancer on my ear in 2019 and it was quite a scary process.
The first thing I noticed was that a scab kept reappearing on my ear and sometimes it would fall off, bleed, and then grow back. It also had a strange color to it that concerned me.
So I decided to have a dermatologist check it out. And I’m glad I did because I ended up needing to have what’s known as Mohs surgery on my ear. It was painful and I had an ear full of stitches for a while, but I’m really glad I just didn’t ignore it.
What are the first signs that have alerted people to what turned out to be cancer?
AskReddit users shared their stories.
1. Stay positive.
“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.”
2. A different 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”.”
3. Good info.
“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.”
“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.”
5. Scary stuff.
“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.”
6. 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 night sweats 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.”
7. This is great.
“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.”
8. So young.
“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!”
“Unintended weight loss or finding blood where you normally wouldn’t.
Get yourself to a doctor.”
10. Dull pain.
“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.”
11. Glad you are OK now.
“I felt a pop in my back.
It was actually a vertebra breaking. I had severe pain after, and was later diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.
That was five years ago, and today I am in remission.”
12. This is intense.
“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 en some scans en 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.”
13. A gray spot.
“I was about 12 and I noticed a gray spot in my left eye so I went to the eye doctor it turned out to be retinoblastoma.
And fastf oward about 1 week I had my eye removed and started chemo.
And now have a glass eye that has to get redone every 2 years until I was 16.”
“I had childhood leukemia.
When I was about 10 both of my knees started to hurt progressively more and more to the point where I was limping around. I also couldn’t catch my breath. I remember this one lunch lady at school giving me sh*t for “being slow” walking up some stairs and I just didn’t know what to tell her because I couldn’t go any faster.
I went to the doctor once and they said I sprained my knees (I played soccer so it wasn’t impossible). But they never got better. So I went back and they decided to take some blood tests just in case.
Thankfully they did because it turns out my red blood cells were 1/3 what they were supposed to be, hence why I couldn’t heal and I couldn’t get enough oxygen, ever.
That was 20 years ago now and I got lucky, I didn’t relapse. I had friends who did, and didn’t make it. Idk. Kinda a personal story that I don’t talk about much.”
Have you had any firsthand experience with cancer?
If you have and you are comfortable with it, please tell us about your experiences in the comments.
Thank you in advance.