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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Check Yourself

With Childhood Cancer Awareness Month coming to a swift close, today is an apt time to talk about it. Today is my angel Michaela's birthday.

In her teens, Minnie was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and she, like many, was diagnosed far far too late. This lead to intense and grueling treatment, having her in and out of hospital for years. Minnie put up a great fight, and her spirit never faded, yet the cancer was stronger than she was, and eventually won its fight in February 2014. Had she been diagnosed earlier, there may have been a slightly different outcome, but that is something that we will never be able to find out.

Late diagnosis, especially in teens, is far too common. I was diagnosed at pretty much the latest stage as could have been possible, because my doctors were looking for the wrong things; I didn't know any symptoms; and I was being mid-diagnosed over and over and over - 7 times, I think. It is a common problem that doctors and GPs won't listen to teens - my GP was convinced I just had an eating disorder because I was a 15 year old girl, losing weight without explanation who was lethargic and not eating much. No. Another doctor was certain I was suffering Chrones, but I just just 'too embarrassed' to be honest about my bowel movements. Again, no. I knew something bad was wrong, and it took me seven months for an accurate diagnosis.awareness

Every. Single. Day. More than ten children in the UK, and 3 in Australia, are diagnosed with Cancer. This is 1 child in 500 developing cancer before the age of 14 (in the UK), yet this only accounts for 0.5 of cancer cases. It is far too common. 

I had nine of these eleven symptoms, yet Cancer wasn't considered until seven months into constant doctors visits and consultations. 

An alarming number of my friends and peers who I speak to, aren't in the habit of checking themselves. It may sound cliche, and most are of the view that 'well it's not going to happen to me', but that's how I thought only 5 years ago. And it did happen to me. And it could happen to you. Just once in a while feel yourself in the shower, and check any freckles or moles, and give your neck a feel and ask yourself how healthy you're feeling. Don't ignore anything your body is trying to tell you. Naivety will not help anything. The amazing Lynne McNicoll is a perfect example, who decided to check herself one nice day in the shower, and found a strange lump which turned out to be breast cancer. If she hadn't found it that day, the diagnosis would have been later and therefore more severe.

Obviously finding Cancer is just never ideal. But the earlier it's caught, the less chance it has of putting up a fight against you. Too many friends, and fellow patients have lost their fights and too many people are still naive about it.

So please, check yo'self before you wreck yo'self.