I’m Jordan and I’m currently in remission from my third cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, when I was 17, 18, and 23. Before I was diagnosed I’d never heard of this type of cancer. It’s made me realise the importance of knowing the main signs and symptoms of cancer and what they could mean.
One symptom of Hodgkin lymphoma is night sweats. I would wake up in the night absolutely drenched in sweat, which felt pretty disgusting. But it was summer at the time so we assumed it was just down to the hot weather.
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Another big symptom for me was fatigue, I was so exhausted all the time. The first time I was diagnosed I had just done my GCSEs and started sixth form, so the exhaustion made sense. But I would struggle walking up the stairs and would constantly be out of breath, something which just made me think I was unfit. I was also so exhausted and would sleep a lot. I had never been someone that napped much but I would be falling asleep on the sofa at 5/6pm because I just couldn’t stay awake.
The reason we eventually went to the doctors was because I had a lump below my ribs which was causing me some pain. This turned out to be my spleen which was very enlarged. Much like never knowing what Hodgkin lymphoma was, I also had no clue what a spleen was before then, but it’s very common for this type of cancer to show in lumps or bumps, especially in areas of your body where your lymph nodes are. However, this was dismissed the first time I went to the doctors and I returned home with no answers.
The reason we went back to the doctors was because I had severely itchy legs, and I would try to ignore the feeling but we all know it’s hard not to scratch. My mum thought maybe I had a vitamin deficiency, but when we called the doctors about my itchy legs, that was when they started asking about potential other symptoms, making it very clear what was actually going on. I feel like symptoms such as fatigue, lumps and bumps are often considered classic symptoms of some types of cancer, but itchy legs are never something I would put as a sign of cancer.
I think my story shows how easy it is to excuse the symptoms of cancer and to miss things when you aren’t fully informed. When I was diagnosed I was at stage 4, and the doctors said I’d been living with cancer for at least a year, something which could have been caught earlier if I’d known the signs and symptoms.
It’s so important to get to know your body and what’s normal for you so you can easily pick up on any changes. After relapsing twice now I think I have a pretty good handle on how my body should feel, but even sometimes I can still make excuses for it. Of course if you have any of these symptoms it doesn’t mean you definitely have cancer, but it does mean you should get any changes checked out if it’s not normal for your body.
Looking for more details on cancer symptoms? Take a look at our Signs of cancer information.