Today is World Cancer Day. February 4th is a day where the whole world comes together to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage it’s prevention, detection and treatment.
World Cancer Day exists to target misinformation, raise awareness and to reduce stigma.
Cancer is something I am far too familiar with in my family. My warrior of a nan has fought against the disease three times now. Each time still as spine chilling as the last.
World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and educating people about the disease.
Currently, 8.8 million people die from cancer worldwide every year out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30-69).
That figure is astonishingly high. It is so, so much higher than it needs to be. One key thing that I noticed in that statistic is the fact that 4 million people die prematurely, now that I can’t believe. Cancer doesn’t discriminate on age. Just last week at the young age of 20 I had my first scare.
Sunday 28th January, I had gone to bed. For a few days I had been feeling different under my right armpit. Due to ignorance and vain I shrugged it off until Sunday when laying in bed I felt what seemed to me as a little lump. Alarmed but not too alarmed I asked Ryan if he could feel anything that is when he froze and said you need to book an appointment tomorrow morning without fail. That worried me even more, Ryan has always been my rock, he is forever keeping me grounded and telling me I am over-reacting when I usually am, a part of me was hoping he would tell me I was then. I slept in a broken sleep that night just praying that I could get an appointment.
Monday morning came and as per usual all the appointments were booked. With a history of breast cancer running in my family I decided to see if I could get an emergency appointment. The lady on the reception demanded to know my reasons for wanting an emergency appointment which I thought was fair and understandable. What I didn’t think was fair or even vaguely understandable was her response when I told her in confidence what my troubles were, here response is still fresh in my mind and equally as annoying today, it was:
Oh dear, I don’t believe this requires an emergency appointment today. You are only young, call back tomorrow.
I had absolutely no words. Not a single response left my mouth other than how can anyone be that naive. No wonder the statistics are so high! I managed to eventually get an appointment that day and if I am perfectly honest I was bricking it.
I walked into the doctor’s room and we all sat down. That is when I told her I had discovered what I believed to be a lump. She then asked me to lay on the bed so she could try to locate the lump for herself. I wont lie to you I was way out of my comfort zone led there with everything on show but the truth is they have seen it all. They have seen every size and shape and they are not there to judge. After a thorough feel she confirmed that there was a lump there a 5mm one to be precise. However, not all lumps are cancer. I had just gotten over a nasty cough a few weeks prior. A cough can sometimes lead to swollen lymph nodes in your armpits that usually go down within 3-6 weeks. Although my doctor hasn’t ruled out cancer she has told me to go home and leave it 3 weeks to check if it goes down and if it hasn’t I must go back so she can check that it hasn’t grown and to take the next steps.
Although, I am now playing what is essentially a waiting game I am confident that by being aware of change in my body I was able to get myself checked as soon as possible. If it did end up to be cancer then at least I managed to get myself seen before it was too late.
And that is something I want you to do. No matter if you are young or old, male or female. please check your body. If something doesn’t feel right then I urge you to see your doctor. Yes, you may feel a bit uncomfortable but I promise you now they have seen it all before, they are not there to judge they are simply there to help.
I am so, so grateful that mine turned out to be just an ordinary lump but it could have been much, much worse. I also urge everyone to not be so naive when it comes to age discrimination against cancer. Cancer is nothing like going Arcades, Bingo or the Lottery. There are no age restrictions on a disease so awful.
Please, keep an eye on yourselves. Nobody deserves to die prematurely.