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Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
April 25, 2024 ·  29 min read

30 Cancer Survivors Share Subtle Signs They Knew Something Was Off

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is undoubtedly one of the most terrifying moments a person can face. Yet, amidst the fear, there is hope, and they can become cancer survivors. Early detection, combined with advancements in medical technology, significantly increases the chances of overcoming this formidable adversary. The key lies in recognizing the signs and symptoms and seeking medical attention promptly.

Early Detection: A Lifesaving Advantage

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One of the bravest steps one can take is to consult a doctor upon noticing any unusual symptoms. While the prospect may seem daunting, it is the first crucial step towards potential recovery. These cancer survivors tell their incredible stories.

Read More: Why 3-Day-Old Broccoli Sprouts Contain 100X More Cancer-Fighting Power Than Big Broccoli

#1 – Unusual Animal Behavior

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Even seemingly minor symptoms, such as a mouth ulcer, should not be ignored. One Quora user shared their experience of their cat’s peculiar behavior prompting them to seek medical advice, leading to a carcinoma diagnosis.

“All I had was a mouth ulcer. It wasn’t even particularly painful, but then my cat started acting oddly – sniffing at my mouth, pressing her head under my chin. I went to see my GP and 3 weeks later was diagnosed with carcinoma. Sadly, my cancer had been growing for months inside the muscle of my tongue. I’d had a few odd symptoms during that time but nothing that gave me any indication it was cancer. If I hadn’t gone to the doc when I did I do wonder how long I’d have waited. I’ve heard the stories about animals sensing cancer and other illnesses but I never really believed until now!” – Lindsey Chapman

#2 – Listening to the Body

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Another survivor’s journey began with a persistent low back ache and a seemingly innocuous symptom after indulging in popcorn. However, prompt medical intervention following an ER visit led to an early diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Highlighting the importance of listening to the body’s signals.

“It was 2016. I started a walking program—10,000 steps daily. After about 6 weeks I noticed a nagging ache in my low back. It persisted for about 3 weeks and I thought I’d pulled a muscle doing housework, gardening, or walking. I was also an avid popcorn addict. One Saturday evening I ate a bag of microwave popcorn. By midnight I was in agony. I told my adult daughter(an RN) who lives with me I was going to the ER to be treated for diverticulitis—it runs in my family (mother, father, 2 brothers). She told me not to tell the ER my “self-diagnosis” and I said “of course not, I’m going to tell him my symptoms and he’s going to tell me I have diverticulitis. I still remember the shock when the ER doctor came in and said, “well I have some bad news. It’s not diverticulitis. (I had not mentioned the condition to him.) I’m certain it’s ovarian cancer and we have a specialist coming in to see you. She’ll be here within a few hours. It was a Sunday morning. She was there before 8 a.m. Today I’m a six-year ovarian cancer survivor because it was detected early, aggressive treatment was started immediately, and I had the support of my family and an incredible medical team. (My oncologist is Dr. Hope! Isn’t that the best possible name?)” – Laura Jones

#3 – Family Vigilance

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A mother’s keen observation of a mole on her daughter’s back saved her from a potentially fatal diagnosis of malignant melanoma. Underscoring the significance of familial support in early detection.

“My elderly Mom gave me a shirt as a gift. When I took off the one I was wearing to try it on, she spotted a black mole on my back that was nearly an inch long, irregularly shaped like a map of New Guinea. I’d notice it weeks before, and was ignoring it. “You make an appointment with my dermatologist right now!” You don’t argue with my Mom. So I went. The doctor cut it out immediately, and the pathologist’s report came back: malignant melanoma. Luckily, in situ. My mother gave me life, again.” – David J. Winter

#4 – Unusual Digestive Symptoms

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Digestive irregularities, such as frequent bowel movements after eating, prompted an individual to seek medical attention. Leading to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer. I noticed that every time I ate I had to poo. I really didn’t think anything about it. Until I did some hard drinking one weekend. Tuesday, I went to ER and was diagnosed with a swollen pancreas and esophageal bleeding. I was admitted to hospital then found I was Stage III. Took me 4 years and 119 lbs. But, I’ve been cancer free for 3 1/2 years.”HCKrod314

#5 – Unexplained Symptoms

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A spouse’s persistent bad breath led to the discovery of prostate cancer, emphasizing the significance of investigating seemingly minor symptoms.

“Not me, but my husband. I noticed that his breath had become unpleasant. The problem increased until his breath was foul. I insisted he see a dentist, and the dentist found no problem with his mouth. It was hard to get him to make an appointment with his doctor for no reason other than bad breath, but eventually he went. The doctor sent him for some tests that are routine for a man of his age. When the test results came back, she sent him for a biopsy on his prostate. The test results could have indicated cancer, or only an infection.The biopsy proved that he had prostate cancer. After the surgery, his breath returned to normal.” – Pam Johnson

Read More: Woman’s Grapefruit-Size ‘Liver Cancer’ Tumor was Actually a Giant Parasite

#6 – Atypical Breast Changes

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A flat spot on the breast served as an early indicator of breast cancer for one survivor. Highlighting the importance of recognizing subtle changes in one’s body.

“Mine was really odd: I noticed a small FLAT spot on the side of my breast that didn’t go away. I got it sampled and it was breast cancer. So it’s not always a discernible lump—sometimes it’s a flat place or an actual depression in the skin. And no one had ever told me that…so please, if you notice a change—any change—in your body, please see a doctor as soon as you can.” – Patricia Marshall

#7 – Importance of Screening

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Regular mammograms enabled the detection of breast cancer in a patient without noticeable symptoms, underscoring the importance of routine screenings.

“I’ve had four instances of breast cancer, NONE of which could be felt and I had no symptoms. The only way they were caught was in a mammogram. Ladies: GET YOUR MAMMOS DONE!” – Susan Pyne Harward

Read More: Your Stool Shape Could Be a Symptom of Colon Cancer, Doctors Warn

#8 – Seeking Professional Advice

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A friend’s concern over a concerning growth prompted medical consultation, ultimately revealing anal cancer and stressing the importance of seeking expert opinion.

“This actually happened to my friend. Cathy was probably late 40s or early 50s at the time. She and her husband wanted to live off the grid completely and participate in the world only on their own terms. One day, she and her husband came down the mountain to visit, they lived two hours north. She mentioned that they were about ready for her husband to quit his job and then they’d sell everything and start over in another state.”

“Before I tell him to quit, I’d like to get your opinion,” she said. “Let’s go into the bathroom. I want to show you something.” This wasn’t something I expected or anticipated. She lowered her pants and had me look just above her buttocks. There was a three inch growth that resembled a worm. It was large, thick, and angry looking.”

Seeking Professional Advice – continued…

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“Don’t let him quit his job yet,” I said. “You need a doctor first. Do it while you still have insurance.” “What do you think it is?” “Way above my paygrade,” I said. I’m not medical in any way, shape, or form. The next week, she saw her primary care doctor who turned her over to a specialist, which kind, I don’t know. “Thanks for telling me to see the doctor,” she said. “He’s going to hang in until we get to the bottom of this.”

“My friend had anal cancer. Because she wanted to handle her healing herself, she went with a natural approach and ate only things with no mothers and no faces, watched only old screwball comedies on TV. In three years she went from an 85% survival rate to terminal. By the time she went back to a ‘normal’ doctor, she was inoperable and in tremendous pain. Hospice wouldn’t provide her with enough pain medication to control her pain. It was a horrible death. In a nutshell, noticing something unusual needs to be investigated. Only you really know your body, keep looking for answers.” – Lisa Dooley Fisk

#9 – Unusual Urination Patterns

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Experiencing frequent urination led to the discovery of a tumor, highlighting the importance of investigating seemingly benign symptoms.

“I peed. A lot. Frequently. At first they tested for diabetes but that wasn’t it. Long story short, they found the tumor, I had radiation therapy to get rid of it, and that tumor hasn’t come back for 30 years!” – Daniel Singer

#10 – Unexpected Indicators

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Chewing ice excessively led to a surprising diagnosis of rectal cancer, emphasizing the significance of recognizing subtle changes in habits.

“I was chewing ice, a lot! This was new for me. My MD said it could be because of anemia, so gave me a blood test. Yup, I had anemia. He wanted to know where my blood was going, so suggested a colonoscopy. Yeah. Not thrilled; but I said, OK. It came back positive for rectal cancer. Had radiation, chemotherapy, 3 surgeries over next 18 months. Permanent colostomy now. But I’m alive! It’s been 4+years now. ALWAYS say, “yes” to tests your MD wants to run, especially the dreaded colonoscopy! (which, by the way, isn’t that bad because you’re unconscious for it)” – Renee

Read More: Survey: Only 1% Of People Know The Tell-Tale Signs Of Some Of The Deadliest Cancers

#11 – Persistent Abdominal Pain

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Ignoring persistent abdominal pain for years led to a late diagnosis of ovarian cancer, underlining the importance of listening to the body’s signals.

“The very first symptom was pain in my lower abdomen. It came and went and I convinced myself that it wasn’t serious. On some level, though, I knew something was wrong. This went on for a couple of years. I began to lose weight uncontrollably. Initially, I blamed it on how much exercise I was doing. Started eating more. I stopped being very active and still became scary skinny. I thought it was weird that my pants felt so snug around my waist. It was because of the skinniness that I saw it. I was laying on my back and when I lifted my head I could see a huge lump in my lower abdomen. I went to the ER because it freaked me out. They referred me to an oncologist. It was a huge (20x10cm) tumor on my right ovary. (mucinous adenocarcinoma). That is how I first noticed my Ovarian cancer. It was a long journey, but that was 5 years ago and I have recently been declared CURED!!!” – Tiger Lily

#12 – Unforeseen Complications

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Unexpected complications, such as peritonitis, led to the discovery of lymphoma, demonstrating the unpredictable nature of cancer symptoms.

“Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma here. I honestly didn’t notice the ones that should have been obvious: fatigue and night sweats. To be honest, even if I had seen those symptoms listed somewhere, I wouldn’t have expected that at age 22, lymphoma would be the cause.”

“Then one Saturday morning, as I attempted to move my bowels, the tumor perforated my intestine, releasing half-digested food into my gut. This is called peritonitis, and is equivalent to a burst appendix. The pain was immediate, intense, and enough to get me to an emergency room. 13 weeks later, I had completed chemotherapy AND my bachelor’s degree. I’m 58 now.” – Curt Wiederhoeft

#13 – Self-Discovery and Vigilance

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Self-examination revealed a lump, prompting early intervention for breast cancer, underscoring the importance of proactive health monitoring.

“At 33 I did a self exam after taking a shower and found a lump it didn’t seem real big but enough in size that I knew it was unusual. I was in bed with my then husband and asked him to see if he felt it. He did and said he would call the doctor the next day and set up an appointment. We had 3 small children all in elementary school so I got them up and off to school. After they left I did a double check to make sure I wasn’t imagining things and found a much larger one on the baseline of my breast. Breast cancer runs in my family so I was pretty sure what I found was breast cancer. I tried to stay upbeat until I got the official diagnosis but deep down I knew I was in for a rough road. I was correct it was stage 3 cancer. That was 22 years ago and I’m still here. Five years later I had another diagnosis of cancer but it was caught early and it was stage one. I didn’t feel that one it was found on a mammogram. But months before I was feeling extremely tired and had trouble staying awake during the day. Always wondered if that was a sign that something wasn’t right with my body. The tiredness got better once my treatments were finished. Who knows. I am blessed to still be here though!” – Vicki Stevens

#14 – Uncommon Symptoms

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Hives and itching prompted medical evaluation, leading to the detection of pancreatic cancer, showcasing the varied manifestations of the disease.

“My first symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer, Hives. Horrible itching. I would scratch until bruised. When the whites of my eyes began to yellow, I found myself at the urgent care. They immediately sent me to the Hospital for admission for liver failure. Later after MRI, a Surgeon, noted a blockage , tumor, of my bile duct. This was the reason for my hives and yellowing. Bilirubin, was backed up in my system due to tumor. A whipple was immediately performed. This was 15 years ago . I’ve since also beaten breast cancer and skin cancer. I took no treatment after. Only surgery to remove the cancers.” – JJ Newkirk

#15 – Silent Symptoms

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Fatigue and subtle changes prompted further investigation, ultimately revealing advanced colon cancer, emphasizing the need for vigilance despite apparent health.

“Fatigue. I was a mom with a new baby at 42 and I had two elementary aged children. I also suffered from insomnia so being extremely (extremely) fatigued was the norm and I didn’t think anything of it. The month my baby turned two years old I had bloody stool everyday, so I scheduled a colonoscopy. The doctor said it could be a lot of things and thought I was just too young I might not even need the colonoscopy but scheduled one 4 months out just to see what was going on. Come the day of the colonoscopy I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer that had already spread to my liver and lungs. I had no other symptoms, no pain, no odd bowel movements, and the bloody stool cleared up on it’s own in those few months. Honestly I was blindsided. I do not have a history of early cancer in my family (though I did have an aunt that had gotten it at 64) and all the genetic DNA tests showed that I had no hereditary cancer matches. I lived a clean life, no smoking, almost no drinking ( in the past 10 years I’ve probably had no more than 7 glasses of wine total), I didn’t even so much as go to a beauty salon to get my hair dyed or nails done. I’ve always avoided toxins, I won’t use weed-killer on my lawn (much to the chagrin of my neighbors) and I combat ants with dishsoap and chili powder. The point is, I’m pretty clean living for this day and age, and yet I still got cancer.”

Read More: 10 Cancer-Linked Foods You Should Never Put in Your Mouth Again

Silent Symptoms – continued…

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“It’s been just about a year now, I’m 45, I had half my liver removed and the offending portion of colon, but I had new spots in my lungs show up. I will never be “cured” of cancer unless medicines get very good very quickly, and my cancer will never go into remission. My one hope is that I can make it another 9 years to see my two girls become adults and my son turn at least 12. I just don’t want them to feel cheated of losing their mother too soon. The real reason I’m writing this is because I was so blindsided, and apparently it’s becoming more common for people younger and younger to get colon cancer. And I really had NO noticeable symptoms. Have my bowel movements changed over my life? Sure. But I had three babies and three miscarriages and that does a lot to change how the body works. Am I overweight and live a sedentary lifestyle? Yes, that too happened over time once I became a stay-at-home-mother. I worked all kinds of jobs before, nightshifts and the like. I’ve even worked two jobs where I had to stay awake and work through 24 hour periods on multiple occasions. Fatigue and insomnia were always par for the course. So sometimes there just isn’t any “tell” before it really is too late. If anyone reading this has any odd symptoms of anything, it’s worth getting things checked out. Because you just don’t know, and at this point I just wish I had found out before my cancer had reached stage IV.” – Wisteria Wilds

#16 – Subtle Signs of Uterine Cancer

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Unusual symptoms such as swollen glands, low-grade fever, and pelvic pain eventually led to the discovery of uterine cancer, highlighting the importance of recognizing subtle changes in the body.

Uterine Cancer. About one year before my diagnosis I had swollen glands in my neck that hurt badly to the touch, but otherwise did not feel sick. I assumed I just had a seasonal bug, but it was nothing like I had ever experienced before. After my diagnosis it was explained to me that the lymph nodes can swell up as an early reaction to abnormal cell activity, even if elsewhere in the body. About three months before my diagnosis I started running a low-grade fever, which was quite unusual for me. I was unaware of it until I went to get my annual flu shot and my doctor told me to come back in a week when my fever was gone. The fever didn’t go away. Later it was explained as a “cancer fever” which some people get — another natural defense mechanism of the body. Then about two months before my diagnosis I started experience severe low back pain and pelvic cramps. That is what ultimately led me to my obgyn. It was a tricky diagnosis. Even a biopsy did not indicate cancer, but the doctor decided to perform a D&C as an extra measure, and that is how the cancer was found. Surgery and radiation was the treatment plan. That was 3 years ago. I just had a PET SCAN which showed I am now cancer-free, but I remain under surveillance for two more years.” – Jill Andrea Lambert

#17 – Acute Breast Pain Revealing Cancer

 Acute Breast Pain Revealing Cancer
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A sudden sharp pain in the breast prompted a self-examination, leading to the diagnosis of breast cancer. Demonstrating the significance of paying attention to unusual sensations.

“I had a sharp pain in my left breast throughout one day last Summer. I never had this before or since. But this pain made me think I should check my breasts as I never do. To cut a long story short…I found out I had HER2 +++ breast cancer in my left breast. Surgery, chemo, radiotherapy and injections…I’m back at work 9 months later. Hoping all will be well. ” – Nicolette Loftus

#18 – Unusual Odor Indicating Prostate Cancer

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A persistent offensive odor detected by a spouse eventually led to the diagnosis of prostate cancer, underscoring the importance of heightened awareness of unusual bodily changes.

“I was the only one who noticed my husband had a strong offensive ( to me) odour about him that seeped into his clothing, bedding, soft furnishings. I asked his Dr about it and only got a strange look. After 3 years of this he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The odour disappeared after surgery cured him of the cancer.” – Ann Ette

#19 – Persistent Symptoms Ignored

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Persisting symptoms such as abdominal discomfort and breathing difficulties were initially dismissed, resulting in a delayed ovarian cancer diagnosis. Emphasizing the importance of proactively seeking proper healthcare.

“I (now 22, then 20) F,was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. On the day of my college farewell party, I distinctively remember myself asking my roommate “Do I look fat? I think my belly is getting bigger, It feels tight.” After a month I start facing problems with breathing,I thought my asthma is back (I had a history of childhood asthma). I (with my mom) went to a doctor saying I feel uncomfortable and my stomach looks big. He told my mother “You know today’s generation, they sleep late, wake up late,doesn’t eat on time. It’s just acidity madam” Boom 1 week later I was diagnosed with 3rd stage ovarian cancer. It was a kilogram of tumour. My periods were very regular, I had no early symptoms. I advice you should get yourself checked for cancer. It really is late when you’re diagnosed.” – Dyk

Read More: 8 Symptoms of Colon Polyps and 4 Signs They May Be Cancerous

#20 – Persistent Cough Revealing Lymphoma

Persistent Cough Revealing Lymphoma
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An occasional dry cough led to the discovery of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, illustrating how seemingly innocuous symptoms may indicate underlying health concerns.

“During the last 4–5 years I have had an occasional dry cough…..a few times a year I would cough for a few days and then the cough would go away. Finally in October 2022 I went to a doctor to talk about my cough. She did an x-ray of my chest and found a growth between my heart and lung.”
“Further investigation (a few biopsies later) showed that I had Hodgkin”s Lymphoma. The cardio vascular surgeon, pulmonologist and oncologist all said that the coughing was most likely caused by the tumour pressing against a nerve (I think it’s called the vagus nerve). Since starting chemotherapy I no longer have the cough…… Good luck!”
“December 2023: UPDATE…. 1 year has passed. I had 6 months (12 infusions) of hard chemotherapy and as of the end of September 2023 I was told that the cancer is in remission. Life “post chemo” is hard but I am slowly renovating my health and renovating a cottage at the same time.” – Richard

#21 – Unexpected Lump Leading to Diagnosis

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The discovery of a lump on the neck led to a stage four cancer diagnosis. Highlighting the significance of prompt medical evaluation despite apparent health.

“I really didn’t have any symptoms. I was strong healthy in great shape. Then I noticed a slight lump on the right side of my neck, thought it was a swollen gland but after two months and it didn’t go away I went to my primary care doctor and he said it was not a swollen gland and I should see an ENT which I did and she said it was a lymph node and I needed a needle biopsy. Turned out to be stage four squamous cell carcinoma and I needed surgery, radiation and chemo. 23 years later I’m still here thanks to a great team of skilled doctors.” – Warren Walerzak

#22 – Persistent Back Pain Unveiling Lung Cancer

Persistent Back Pain Unveiling Lung Cancer
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Persistent back pain eventually revealed stage four lung cancer, emphasizing the importance of investigating persistent symptoms promptly.

“Yeah l had a very sore back for awhile in late 22, it got to the stage where l was having trouble just getting out of bed. See l go see my doctor at who orders a scan. Scan results show cancer stage 4 in my left lung and which had spread to some rib bones and shoulder bones.”
“Went on chemo for two sessions as well as radiotherapy. The chemo nearly killed me. I couldn’t handle it. Then l got approval for a trial using a drug though having matching genes. So now l get dosed every three weeks with this gene therapy at the local hospital which is only two km from my home. I feel pretty good most days and remain active my only b***h is numb feet which can be painful, I just got some meds for them but the drug makes me a bit foggy so I am keeping them to a minimum. I do tire easily and insomnia pops up occasionally. Other than that l feel fortunate that l am not bed bound. I will be 64 this October.” – Billy Bobb

#23 – Professional Insight Leading to Early Detection

Professional Insight Leading to Early Detection
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Healthcare experience facilitated early detection of cancer through self-awareness and prompt medical evaluation, showcasing the importance of medical knowledge and proactive healthcare seeking.

“I had worked in health care for thirty years and pretty much knew about basic medical things both as a social worker in a big ER and an Emergency Medical Technician. One day about 6 years ago I was shaving and when I pulled the skin tight on my neck I felt a swollen lymph node. I immediately felt the other side and the node there wasn’t swollen. I knew that almost universally neck lymph nodes swelled up in pairs. Called my doctor and went to see him that afternoon. Sent me to an ENT specialist and got a blind stick neck biopsy the next day, a PET scan in a week and a throat biopsy in another week. Took less than three weeks for official confirmation but I knew the first day. Chemo and Radiation kicked my a**. But all better now.” – Robert Lanz

#24 – Fungal Infection as an Indicator For This Cancer Survivor

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A persistent fungal infection under the thumbnail served as an unexpected indicator of bladder and kidney cancer, demonstrating how seemingly unrelated symptoms may signal underlying health issues.

“I had a fungal infection under my thumbnail. It was no big deal but annoying because it was unsightly and it did not respond to any medication, even very expensive ones. I treated it for 8 months without results. During a routine exam my PSA levels were high, upon retesting, it was normal, then a month later high again. The suspicion was that I had Prostate Cancer, but an ultrasound revealed that I had bladder cancer and a separate kidney cancer. Stage 3 for both.”
“The removal of my kidney, 3 procedures to burn away the bladder cancer, 6 rounds of chemotherapy and heaps of MRI’s and cystoscopies took a year. I have been cancer free now for ten years. The strange part was that despite not being treated for the duration of my cancer treatment, the fungus infection healed up all by itself. That fungal infection was the only indication that I had a serious problem.” – John Fenn.

Read More: 5 Unusual Signs Of Colon Cancer People Accidentally Ignore For Years

#25 – Disregarded Symptoms Unveiling Colon Cancer

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Occasional blood in the stool, dismissed as hemorrhoids, ultimately led to the discovery of colon cancer, emphasizing the importance of thorough medical evaluation for persistent symptoms.

“For five years, I had occasional bright red blood in my poop. Dr. Google said I had hemorrhoids, so I never thought much about it after that. It was only when I developed Uterine cancer that the CT scan showed a 4cm tumor in my colon. At this point, it was already stage 3, and I thank god for the Uterine cancer (Stage 1, cured), or I would likely be dead from the colon cancer. Never, EVER trust Dr. Google and get any bleeding checked no matter how small.” – Shelley Heich

#26 – Visual Changes Prompting Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Breast Cancer Diagnosis
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A small blemish on the breast accompanied by a dent led to the discovery of breast cancer, highlighting the significance of visual changes and self-awareness in early cancer detection.

“It was a small, bluish blemish on my left breast, slightly to the left of center. I have cats, and they can sometimes be a bit boisterous, so I thought it was a bruise and waited for it to go away. Then, bending down in the shower one day to pick up my shampoo, I noticed a dent in the same breast – directly under the bluish blemish, which was still there some weeks later. I’d forgotten all about it, and hadn’t checked to see if it had gone.”

“I pressed the ‘bruise’ to see If it hurt. It didn’t, but I felt a lump underneath. I had a jolt of fear as I explored the lump with my fingers. It was fairly big – about 3cm long – and it was in the same breast I’d had cancer in 13 years previously. Even though family and friends tried to reassure me that it was probably just a cyst or something, I knew it was cancer. My previous surgeon examined me, and told me it wasn’t looking good. He then sent me for the usual mammogram, biopsy and ultra sound scan to confirm his diagnosis. Three years later, I’ve had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and other treatment, and I’m out the other side. Life is no longer ‘normal’ – I’m very tired most of the time and I have frequent stomach upsets, due to the meds I’m on, but I survived.” – Tina Haring

#27 – Subtle Symptoms of Colon and Ovarian Cancer

Subtle Symptoms of Colon and Ovarian Cancer
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Persistent tiredness, pale complexion, and rectal bleeding led to the diagnosis of colon cancer, emphasizing the importance of recognizing subtle symptoms. Additionally, proactive follow-up due to familial cancer history facilitated the early detection of ovarian cancer, underscoring the significance of familial risk factors in cancer prevention.

“Before I was diagnosed at 42 w/colon cancer, I was exceptionally tired. The tiredness was like nothing I had ever felt before; it made me feel sick to my stomach. I was also pale although I didn’t realize it until someone asked me if I was ill. The most obvious sign: bleeding when I used the bathroom. It had started as an occasional spot/drop in my underwear (had I scratched myself? was it vaginal spotting?). Later, it was a blood spatter in the toilet. I assumed I was too young (not at all turns out). Finally had a colonoscopy…surgery, chemo. 21 years ago.”
“But, four yrs after that cancer, I was diagnosed with a very early ovarian cancer. Turns out colon/ovarian/ breast are related in some people. That cancer had no symptoms. It was found bc I knew the connection between the three cancers and did aggressive follow-up. The doc spotted an ovarian tumor so small that it couldn’t be felt if he were to examine the ovary. Turns out my peritoneum was loaded with tiny tumors. Lesson: colon cancer w/symptoms saved my life. I never would have found the ovarian if I hadn’t been doing crazy follow-up. That cancer was 17 years ago.” – Kris Webb

#28 – Throbbing Sensation Signaling Brain Tumor

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A throbbing sensation in the head prompted medical evaluation, leading to the discovery of a brain tumor, highlighting the importance of recognizing unusual sensations and seeking medical attention promptly.

“I had a throbbing sensation at the back of my head. It only lasted maybe 3–5 seconds, but I felt it whenever I strained (like to lift something heavy) or when I tilted my head down. It began happening more and more frequently, so I went to see my nurse practitioner. At first, he thought it might be caused by neck spasms but ordered an MRI based on the frequency. The MRI revealed an almost 4cm brain tumor in my cerebellum. When it was excised and biopsied, it was determined to be Medulloblastoma – the most common brain tumor in children but extremely rare in adults, especially female. I was 38. I had my third tumor removed 10/2023. So far, so good! The Lord has blessed me time after time!” – Keri Marlar

#29 – Asymptomatic Thyroid Cancer Discovery

Thyroid Cancer
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Asymptomatic thyroid nodules discovered during routine ultrasound screenings led to the diagnosis of thyroid cancer, emphasizing the importance of regular medical check-ups and diagnostic screenings in cancer detection.

“I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2020. Looking back, I had no symptoms (that were obvious). Not one. The only symptom was found “by accident” on my yearly ultrasound … 2 enlarged nodules, … one which had grown larger, and one which was a new one that was large as well, and they were both big enough to warrant biopsies. For decades I had always had very small nodules on my thyroid, but they were checked yearly (by ultrasound) to make sure they didn’t grow. (I did have some of the nodules biopsied a very long time ago, and they were all benign).”

Read More: It’s time to put cancer warning labels on alcohol, experts say

Asymptomatic Thyroid Cancer Discovery – continued…

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“Fast forward to 2020. My endocrinologist had me schedule the yearly thyroid ultrasound, and I went to the appt. A couple of days after that ultrasound, my DR’s office called me and said one of the nodules had grown and there was a new one there also, and she wanted both biopsied. A couple of days after getting them biopsied, on a Friday night, I remember getting an unexpected call from my endocrinologist. She told me the nodules were found to be cancerous, and that I would need surgery to remove them. She didn’t know if the cancer was contained in the nodules or not, but that I needed to call my surgeon and make an appt to see her.”
“After seeing the surgeon, I learned that I would need a total thyroidectomy to get rid of all the cancer; she didn’t know if it had spread or not. I had surgery March 17th, 2020, to remove the cancer. Fortunately, it had been contained to my thyroid gland, and not surrounding tissue. I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation. But to answer the question, after finding out I had thyroid cancer, looking back I did not have any obvious symptoms. The only symptoms were “accidentally” found on a yearly thyroid ultrasound … which were abnormally large thyroid nodules. EDIT: I was 47 when diagnosed (turned 48 later that year).” – Melissa Wingfield

#30 – Neck Bump Revealing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Woman bending neck
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A growing and painful bump on the neck prompted medical evaluation, resulting in the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, showcasing the significance of physical changes as potential indicators of underlying health issues.

“Male,30 yes old. I had a small bump on my neck which I thought I must have slept wrong, but slowly it started growing and turned painful so after a few months I went to the doctor who said a biopsy is needed. So after the biopsy and many tests I was diagnosed with advanced stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After 12 rounds of chemo. It’s been a year now. I’m cancer free and trying to get back to my life and career as soon as possible.” – Ajay Kadambi

Proactive Healthcare for Cancer Survivors: Seeking and Early Detection

Proactive Healthcare for Cancer Survivors
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The shared experiences underscore the importance of proactively seeking healthcare, thorough medical evaluation of persistent symptoms, and heightened self-awareness in recognizing potential signs of cancer. By prioritizing regular medical check-ups, advocating for diagnostic screenings, and promptly addressing unusual symptoms, individuals can significantly impact the early detection and treatment of cancer.

“I was diagnosed with end-stage 1 beginning stage 2, Dukes 2 tumor in the leftside of my colon, when i was 31 years old, in January 2002. My first symptoms began when I was 15 years old, and I felt extreme pain on the right side of my abdomen. I visited the hospital and my doctors a LOT trying to track the pain’s cause.”

“It was then that I was told it was everything from cramps (because, you know, I had only had my period for 5 years and didn’t know my own body -) to an ovarian cyst, to IBD, to appendicitis (after I had 1 ft of colon removed, I was informed by the surgeon that I didn’t have an appendix – and I hadn’t had it removed! I also was born without multiple set of molars!),to hemorrhoids, to an ectopic pregnancy. My second symptom was the thin, runny feces. Then there was blood when I defecated. Then I was so exhausted, I couldn’t get out of bed – anemia. No one put it together until Dr. Braddock, who knew both my husband and my medical history very, very well, saw me and put me in the hospital for a colonoscopy.” – Diana Davis Rumbol
Empowering Early Detection and Diagnosis

individuals can empower themselves in the fight against cancer
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These diverse narratives exemplify the varied pathways to cancer diagnosis and the crucial role of early detection in improving outcomes. By remaining vigilant, seeking medical attention for persistent symptoms, and engaging in regular screenings, individuals can empower themselves in the fight against cancer. Remember, early detection saves lives.

Read More: 40+ Weird Signs That Lead To a Cancer Diagnosis


  1. “‘My first symptoms of ovarian cancer’: Signs to look for and when to see a doctor” MD Anderson. Cynthia Demarco,
  2. ““I Was Chewing Ice”: 35 Cancer Survivors Share The Subtle And Overt Signs That Something Was Wrong” Bored Panda. Jonas Grinevičius and Gabija Saveiskyte. April 5, 2024.
  3. Cancer Patients Reveal The Symptom That Made Them Think Something Might Be WrongBuzzFeed. Mike Spohr. April 2, 2024