Cancer doesn’t always cause the most obvious symptoms, which makes knowing the subtle signs front and centre. A 27-year-old was hit with a cancer diagnosis after experiencing “lesser-known symptoms” in her nails and hair. Now, she’s urging everyone to pay attention to any unusual changes and to see a doctor promptly.
From dry skin to brittle hair, cancer can sometimes trigger subtle signs that aren’t exactly easy to spot.
Christina McKnight, now 35, was sadly a victim of these vague symptoms when she battled thyroid cancer back when she was 27.
The mum didn’t think much of these symptoms and only went to see her doctor once her husband, Matthew Mcknight, “forced” her.
In fact, she thought her symptoms were caused by stress after she landed a promotion at her job at a commercial bank.
Unfortunately, her fatigue, brain fog, dry skin and brittle hair turned out to be thyroid cancer despite Christina having no family history of cancer and being “young, fit and healthy”.
Christina, from Oklahoma City, US, said: “It was one of those things that I never thought would happen to me.
“I was young, fit and healthy. I’d just run a half marathon, did CrossFit for three years and had no known hereditary thyroid disease in the family at all.
“I just started to feel very tired and had loads of brain fog, but I thought it was just because of my promotion.
“I said my symptoms were because I wasn’t looking after myself – I was eating fast food and stressed at work.
“Thankfully, my doctor recognised my symptoms as he had recently diagnosed others with thyroid cancer.
“He felt my neck and found a lump which I wasn’t even aware of and got the ball rolling with diagnosis.”
Christina then had to undergo an ultrasound and a biopsy which confirmed she had thyroid cancer.
While Christina didn’t notice the lump in her neck, the NHS states that a painless lump or swelling in this area is one of the main symptoms of thyroid cancer.
Other key signs of this cancer include:
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Unexplained hoarseness that does not get better after a few weeks
- Sore throat that does not get better
- Difficulty swallowing.
At first, Christina was hesitant to accept the diagnosis as her thyroid would have to be removed but she ended up having a thyroidectomy in November 2014, followed by radioactive iodine ablation treatment in January to remove any remains of her thyroid glands.
A year later she fortunately got the all-clear but she has to have thyroid replacement injections to replace her lost hormones.
Christina, who shared her experience on TikTok, said: “I share my story, not to scare people, but to remind them to pay attention if you’re experiencing changes and to go to the doctor.
“It’s so important to be aware of these lesser-known symptoms and to not assume it wouldn’t happen to you, listen to the people around you and listen to changes in your body – it could save your life.”