Woman shares Instagram photo to show the problem with cancer symptoms
In a world where we can diagnose every little twinge or ache thanks to websites such as WebMD, it's not difficult to get worked into a stupor over a simple headache or a seemingly never-ending cold. Certainly, I don't know about you, but I have fallen into the dark hole which is self-diagnosis one too many times.
Whether it's over a bruise or a bout of indigestion, the internet appears set on informing me that I'm suffering from some rare and potentially life-threatening disease. As a result, whenever I feel a little under the weather now, I either contact my doctor immediately or stay calm until I have adequate reason to worry.
Certainly, as one breast-cancer warrior has been informing the internet, diseases such as cancer can arrive without any symptoms or previous family history which means that whilst self-diagnosis can be helpful, it's imperative to get regular check-ups from a professional.
34-year-old Kristin Pretorius' cancer diagnosis was quite a shock. It came when the mother-of-two was truly living it up; she was in a happy place in her marriage, committed to raising two, strong and independent daughters and was even outdoing herself at the gym. Certainly, the image below looks like something one would see on a billboard.
Glowing and exuding happiness, Kristen and her husband appear to be the perfect couple, with the dream lifestyle to boot... But little did they know that Kirsten had three cancerous tumours in her right breast which had already spread to her lymph nodes. As she writes:
"In this picture, I was living with cancer. I just didn't know it yet. Ironically, this year marked the peak of my 'health' and my fitness. I've never felt better, stronger, or more comfortable with myself than I did turning 34. My marriage had never been better and my children were thriving. Everything was beautifully bright. But, despite feeling perfectly well, I went for my routine yearly health check. And that's when they discovered 'the limp'. The lump.
"I look at this picture from a simply blissful family holiday celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary and all I can think is... 'KIRSTIN how can you not know that there are 3 tumours thriving away in your breast? How can you not FEEL the cancer slipping into your lymph nodes? Why don't you FEEL sick? How can you be so stupid?!'
"But I didn't know and I didn't feel. If my doctor hadn't examined me, I'd still be blissfully unaware, reaching new fitness goals with my body, eating my futile little anti-oxidant high virtually-vegan wonder food diet... I'd be packing my little plastic-free super food school lunches for my girls, lecturing them on healthy lifestyles. I'd be chemically-free cleaning my home wondering why the whole world doesn't use essential oils. All the while growing and feeding my precious cancer.
So check your boobs. Know your body.
Cancer happens. To anyone."
Kirsten has since set up an Instagram account that is not only dedicated to documenting "the good, the bad and the ugly", but also aims to inspire all women out there to carry on in the face of adversity. Indeed, as her account shows, she hasn't let "the big C" stop her from doing anything. Whether she's hosting head-shaving parties or attending chemotherapy, Kirsten always has a smile on her face and the fashionable gear to match.
But what Kirsten wants us to understand from her journey is that cancer doesn't always have to look like "cancer". That is, you could be leading the healthiest lifestyle in terms of what you eat and how much you exercise, but that doesn't necessarily prevent you from becoming unwell. So regardless of how "fit" you consider yourself to be, it's absolutely essential that you continue to monitor your body and seek counsel if something seems off.
We wish Kirsten luck with journey towards remission. I mean, with that attitude, it's sure to be a speedy one!