Mum, 35, shares very subtle lung cancer signs she attributed to stress

Mum, 35, shares very subtle lung cancer signs she attributed to stress

Ashley doesn’t seem like a typical lung cancer patient. The 35-year-old never smoked, she has always been relatively healthy, she even regularly ran marathons and participated in martial arts.

However, the deadly condition first reared its ugly head in 2020 when she started experiencing “very subtle” signs like trouble swallowing and dry throat.

Unfortunately, it took years of doctor visits, trips to the emergency room, and countless deteriorating symptoms for her to get the correct diagnosis.

By the time she was finally diagnosed with lung cancer, her whole body was so swollen that she could barely move.

“I looked [the doctor] in the eyes and said, ‘If you send me home, I’m going to die’,” Ashley recalled in a TikTok video.

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Taking to the social media platform, the social worker shared her first signs which included trouble swallowing, choking a bit more when she ate, and changes in her throat.

She said: “My throat just felt weird. I wouldn’t say it was a sore throat. But [when] I was drinking or chugging water, my throat felt a little dry.

“Food felt differently as it went down my throat. There was saliva in the back of my mouth.”

At first, the 35-year-old attributed these symptoms to anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic, her young kids and the divorce she was going through.

However, Ashley’s symptoms didn’t stop there. A year later, she went to urgent care with symptoms like cough and a headache, but she was only tested for Covid.

The time kept passing but Ashley’s cough and other symptoms weren’t going anywhere. She said: “It was affecting me at work. It was affecting conversations.

@ashleybreatheforward Here are the symptoms I experienced leading up to my NSC lung cancer diagnosis as an otherwise healthy, young, and active woman.##nsclc##lungcancer##cancerwarrior##lungcancerstage3##nonsmallcelllungcancer##lungcancerawareness##onelung##cancer##cancerpatient##cancersurvivors##lungcancerstage4##breatheforward ♬ original sound – Ashley • Breathe Forward

“I’m a fast talker. At this time, I was noticing I had to slow down [and] take breaths in between words or sentences.”

She even tried to treat her cough and “went through bags of cough drops”. “I probably spent hundreds of dollars on cough drops during this time,” Ashley said.

Unfortunately, more and more symptoms kept joining the ever-growing list of problems she was facing.

Eventually, she started wheezing, which doctors prescribed her an inhaler for.

A few months later, Ashley’s cough started changing and it became drier, persistent and more intense.

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That’s when her doctors decided to do a chest x-ray which came back normal because the tumour was hiding behind her heart, she explained.

“If they would have ordered me a CT or a PET scan, it would have shown up on that,” she said.

Five months before her diagnosis, Ashley noticed she lost a lot of weight and kept seeking the help of doctors which lead nowhere.

Her medical team kept saying: “It’s all stress. You’re going through a divorce, you’re working in healthcare, there’s a pandemic, you have young kids. Maybe go see a therapist.”

As her symptoms just kept worsening, Ashley admitted herself to the emergency room, asking for help, where doctors eventually diagnosed her with pneumonia.

The mum was given antibiotics and admitted to a hospital but this didn’t solve her symptoms.

At this time, she wasn’t able to put her shoes on, pick up her children or move. Her entire body started swelling.

She ended up in the emergency room again where she was given more antibiotics for her pneumonia and sent home.

When she got home, she spoke to her girlfriend, who told her to go back to the emergency room and not leave until she got a diagnosis. “This saved my life,” Ashley said.

They found blood clots in her leg and lungs. At this point, she was determined to get answers.

“It turns out if I didn’t start treatment when I did, I would have had under five months to live,” Ashley said.

Since then, the mum has had one of her lungs removed and she is undergoing an eight-month course of chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy.

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