One day, I was shocked of the news that a former colleague in the masteral program killed himself by firing a .45 caliber pistol at his temple. He died on the spot. I have long heard he had been suffering from brain cancer and when the pain went to higher levels one night, he decided to end it all.
Another colleague resigned from his job thinking he had a lingering heart ailment and that stress might bring him closer to the grave. He died a few years ago not from heart failure but from a brain tumor that paralyzed half his body. It was earlier discovered by doctors that he had leukemia or cancer of the blood.
My late grandfather (blessed be his soul) who died several years ago, was once a hypochondriac. He said he had cancer of the bones because of pains in his elbow. He said he also had cancer of the stomach. When examined, his doctor found out he had arthritis and stomach ulcer.
One day, while lying in bed sick, he called me to his bed.
“Dandaniakon matay, balong. Adda cancer ti utekko ta tallo nga aldawen a naut-ot toy ulok (I’m dying, grandson, I have cancer of the brain. My head has been aching for 3 days already),” he said with all the tears effect.
Well, he lived to 84 years old, ripe enough to fulfill his wishes.
Are you sick, too, fellas or only hypochondriac?
Hypochondria is a traditional term for a morbid condition characterized by the simulation of the symptoms of any of several diseases. Convinced of a grave illness, the hypochondriac may suffer acutely, not only from the symptoms of the presumed disease, but also from anxiety and melancholy. In modern psychological classification the term has largely been replaced with hypochondriasis, which is more precisely defined as any illness or symptom for which no specific cause can be determined.
I was very much intrigued by my grandpa’s hypochondriac behavior that one day, when I discovered a lump that grew below the right ear of my 5-year old son, I went panic, thinking it was cancer. Our pediatrician discovered it was only an ordinary case of tissue infection (letteg) and a 2-week dose of antibiotics cured it.
My spinster aunt died of breast cancer that’s why I always fear cancer more than any disease.
Am I hypochondriac, too, fellas?
And why not, if the following symptoms of cancer afflict you:
1. Unexplained weight loss
Most people with cancer will lose weight at some point. When you lose weight for no known reason, it’s called an unexplained weight loss. An unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer. This happens most often with cancers of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus or lungs.
Fever is very common with cancer, but it more often happens after cancer has spread from where it started. Almost all patients with cancer will have fever at some time, especially if the cancer or its treatment affects the immune system. Less often, fever may be an early sign of cancer, such as blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma.
Fatigue is extreme tiredness that does not get better with rest. It may be an important symptom as cancer grows. It may happen early, though, in some cancers, like leukemia. Some colon or stomach cancers can cause blood loss that’s not obvious. This is another way cancer can cause fatigue.
Pain may be an early symptom with some cancers like bone cancers or testicular cancer. A headache that does not go away or get better with treatment may be a symptom of a brain tumor. Back pain can be a symptom of cancer of the colon, rectum, or ovary. Most often, pain due to cancer means it has already spread (metastasized) from where it started.
5. Skin changes
Along with cancers of the skin, some other cancers can cause skin changes that can be seen. These signs and symptoms include: darker looking skin (hyperpigmentation), yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice), reddened skin (erythema), itching (pruritis) and excessive hair growth.
6. Change in bowel habits or bladder function
Long-term constipation, diarrhea or a change in the size of the stool may be a sign of colon cancer. Pain when passing urine, blood in the urine, or a change in bladder function (such as needing to pass urine more or less often than usual) could be related to bladder or prostate cancer.
7. Sores that do not heal
Skin cancers may bleed and look like sores that don’t heal. A long-lasting sore in the mouth could be an oral cancer. This should be dealt with right away, especially in people who smoke, chew tobacco, or often drink alcohol. Sores on the penis or vagina may either be signs of infection or an early cancer and should be seen by a health professional.
8. White patches inside the mouth or white spots on the tongue
White patches inside the mouth and white spots on the tongue may be leukoplakia. Leukoplakia is a pre-cancerous area that’s caused by frequent irritation. It’s often caused by smoking or other tobacco use. People who smoke pipes or use oral or spit tobacco are at high risk for leukoplakia. If it’s not treated, leukoplakia can become mouth cancer. Any long-lasting mouth changes should be checked by a doctor or dentist right away.
9. Unusual bleeding or discharge
Unusual bleeding can happen in early or advanced cancer. Coughing up blood in the sputum (phlegm) may be a sign of lung cancer. Blood in the stool (which can look like very dark or black stool) could be a sign of colon or rectal cancer. Cancer of the cervix or the endometrium (lining of the uterus) can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding. Blood in the urine may be a sign of bladder or kidney cancer. A bloody discharge from the nipple may be a sign of breast cancer.
10. Thickening or lump in the breast or other parts of the body
Many cancers can be felt through the skin. These cancers occur mostly in the breast, testicle, lymph nodes (glands), and the soft tissues of the body. A lump or thickening may be an early or late sign of cancer and should be reported to a doctor, especially if you’ve just found it or notice it has grown in size. Keep in mind that some breast cancers show up as red or thickened skin rather than the expected lump.
11. Indigestion or trouble swallowing
Indigestion or swallowing problems that don’t go away may be signs of cancer of the esophagus (the swallowing tube that goes to the stomach), stomach, or pharynx (throat). But like most symptoms on this list, they are most often caused by something other than cancer.
12. Recent change in a wart or mole or any new skin change
Any wart, mole, or freckle that changes color, size, or shape, or that loses its sharp border should be seen by a doctor right away. Any other skin changes should be reported, too. A skin change may be a melanoma which, if found early, can be treated successfully.
13. Nagging cough or hoarseness
A cough that does not go away may be a sign of lung cancer. Hoarseness can be a sign of cancer of the voice box (larynx) or thyroid gland.
If you have any or more than one of these symptoms, the chances are you already have cancer.
I am not kidding, fellas.
Go and see your doctor right away!