Knowing Something is Off
- 21-year-old Courtney Nettleton suddenly suffered from extreme fatigue last summer, and due to her 14-hour sleep sessions, was scared that something was wrong. She was right; it was thyroid cancer.
- The TikTok presence was told by doctors that her symptoms were just due to hormones and “teenage laziness,” but then her co-workers noticed a lump in her neck.
- Thyroid cancer is a disease that begins in the thyroid gland, which is at the base of the neck. Oftentimes, the cancer will present itself as a large bump (tumor) in the neck, as in Courtney’s case. Symptoms of thyroid cancer can sometimes be hard to detect yourself, as they can often mirror the common cold.
“I was told by doctors that it was just teenage laziness,” Courtney told Jam Press of her uncontrollable tiredness. In addition, she had also been experiencing hot flashes, breathlessness, neck stiffness, acne, and moodiness to top it all off.Read More
Typically a slow-growing cancer, Courtney’s doctors told her that this specific case was unfortunately “growing fast.”
“I was so devastated and worried,” she said. “I knew deep down that something wasn’t right, and being told that it was just teenage laziness by the doctors was incredibly frustrating.”
“My friends noticed a small lump on my neck at work and that combined with my symptoms pushed me to book a doctor’s appointment the next day,” Courtney said. “I was given a two-week urgent referral for an ultra-sound which confirmed I had a solid tumor in my thyroid.”
Courtney, who is now a presence on TikTok due to sharing her health journey, immediately started treatment and had to have “both halves” of her thyroid removed. In between those surgeries, her medical team told her that she was all clear.
“After my first surgery, my doctor rang me and told me I was completely cancer-free and that I had nothing to worry about,” she recalled of the words that every cancer patient dreams of hearing.
An Advanced Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis
After a small window of celebration over her good news, Courtney then learned that her cancer had actually spread to other parts of her body.
“My consultant rang me just three days after this to tell me that cancer cells were found in lymph channels and blood vessels within my thyroid and that I would need further surgery and radioiodine,” she said of the horrific double blow. Radioiodine, according to Cleveland Clinic, is a “reliable treatment that targets thyroid cells so there is little exposure to the rest of your body’s cells.”
“I was so upset when I found out I still had cancer,” Courtney said. “I had to tell my family and friends that I wasn’t cancer-free and that I had more treatment to go.”
Now left feeling anxious, she has six weeks to go to hear whether or not the further treatment has been successful, and “the wait is sickening,” she said. “I suffer from severe anxiety so I am constantly worried.”
Luckily, she has been finding refuge in her work, which includes the support from her co-workers.
“Work has been very supportive throughout the whole entire journey and has constantly supported me,” Courtney shared, noting that she boldly chose to skydive to raise awareness and funds for Macmillan Cancer Trust and the Teenage Cancer Trust.
“Although I feel very let down by doctors, the staff at Macmillan, my consultant and Leeds St James’s hospital have been absolutely amazing throughout my journey,” she said, giving praise where it was due.
Staying positive during cancer treatment has a bigger impact on results than you may expect. Studies prove that patients who are able to stay upbeat and positive often have better treatment outcomes, and that’s why mindset and attitude can be extremely valuable tools. For those battling cancer, doing activities you love can sometimes bring some much-needed positivity into your day.
@courtneypaigenettleton Happy thursday im taking my silly self to bed #foryoupage #foryou #fyp #eyebrows #brows #sillythursday #sillyme #NatWestWhatYouWaitingFor ♬ original sound – Courtneynettleton
“Everyone knows their own bodies more than anybody else,” Courtney reminded anyone reading this. “It is so important to trust your gut and follow your instinct — you have to stand up for yourself when you know something isn’t right.”
What Exactly is Thyroid Cancer?
Thyroid cancer is a disease that begins in the thyroid gland, which is at the base of the neck. Oftentimes, the cancer will present itself as a large bump (tumor) in the neck, as in Courtney’s case. Symptoms of thyroid cancer can sometimes be hard to detect yourself, as they can often mirror the common cold.
These signs may include difficulty swallowing, changes to your voice, and a consistent cough. Since these symptoms can be confused with a cold, it’s important to be vigilant about your health and speak up if they continue without explanation. And if your symptoms are dismissed like Courtney’s as “laziness” or equivalent, seek a second or third opinion until you feel you have gotten to the bottom of your health concern.