THE problem with cancer is that every cancer has its own set of symptoms.
While nobody should lose themselves in fear of every little sniffle or ache, World Cancer Day wants you to not treat strange problems casually. If something is wrong – even annoying you – be checked by a doctor as soon as possible.
Claire Hodgson is a 36-year-old who is currently being treated for metastatic melanoma – aggressive skin cancer. Over the past six months, she has had more than 44 tumours removed from her body.
Hodgson said early diagnosis saved her life. After a few months of experiencing some minor but annoyingly persistent health complaints, she visited a doctor.
“I was eating clean, getting a lot of exercise and getting all the needed health checks, but I started feeling so tired I was in bed by seven or eight at night. I had aches, pains and swollen glands – flu symptoms.
“My blood tests kept showing I was normal, so my doctor suspected tick bite fever, glandular fever or even stress.
“Then a lump appeared in my groin which caused bruising under the skin and a scan was ordered. It turned out I had multiple tumours in my body.”
Skin cancer tumours had spread to her brain, colon, liver and lymph glands. Hodgson has had five major surgeries to remove the growths.
“I am very lucky. Cancer can fool even doctors. Family and friends are also important – you need everyone’s support.”
Hodgson said people need groups and information to deal with a cancer diagnosis.
Dr Gary Sopher, medical director of oncology at Novartis South Africa, said the incidence of skin cancer is increasing worldwide.
“World Health Organisation said, globally, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma cancers and 132 000 melanoma skin cancers occur annually.”