Self awareness: the C word

By Raphaele Nutt

Cancer, the word no one wants to hear, but everyone needs to know about.

Cancer can be seen as a bit of a taboo topic amongst young people. This is because some people don’t want to discuss something so potentially life destroying. Alternatively, some don’t realise that it can affect them, Yes it is more common as we get older, but anyone can develop it. Cancer that is diagnosed at an early stage, before it’s had the chance to grow or spread to other areas of the body are more likely to be treatable, with a successful outcome. If the cancer spreads, the treatment of this becomes much harder and normally decreases the chance of survival. There are more than 200 different types of cancer, each one having different symptoms; it is impossible for anyone to know all of them, but knowing what your body looks like and feels like means you have a better chance of recognising something different. Understandably you may now be thinking what about the parts of your body you can’t touch or see to notice any change. Do not fear. If you feel unwell, or notice any change in your physical health it is worth going to your GP to have it checked out. That doesn’t mean that every time you feel under the weather you have cancer, as at our age it is highly unlikely.

Here are a few key symptoms to be aware of:

  • Breathlessness

  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding

  • Persistent heart burn or indigestion

  • Croaky voice or hoarseness

  • Looser stools

  • Persistent bloating

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Cuts that won’t heal

  • Mouth or tongue ulcer that won’t heal

  • Heavy night sweats

  • Unusual breast changes

  • Blood in your urine or faeces

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • New mole, or changes to an existing mole

  • Coughing up blood

  • Persistent cough

  • Problems urinating

  • Unexplained pain or ache

  • Unusual lumps or swellings on any part of your body

There are many charities that can offer support to those directly or indirectly affected by cancer. Cancer Research UK help fund scientists, doctors and nurses to help beat cancer, but every step they make towards the illness once and for all relies on every pound that is donated. Cancer Research also provides information to the public, in order to raise awareness of cancer and help people deal with having the diagnosis and treatment.

CoppaFeel are a Cardiff University group that are on a mission to stamp out the late detection of breast cancer. They want to ensure that individuals know the signs and symptoms , and have the confidence to seek help if they notice something is wrong. Like other charities CoppaFeel relies on donations in order to do the valuable work in educating individuals. Breast cancer can affect both men and women. Equally, prostate Cancer UK fights to help more men survive prostate cancer, and subsequently enjoy a better quality of life. They do this by conducting research and providing people with information on prostate cancer.

There are always fundraising events that you can take part in to contribute to the valuable work that these cancer charities do, just because no one in your family or friends have been affected by cancer does not mean you should sit back and do nothing. Helping to raise money and awareness now will lead to a better future where we can say goodbye to cancer taking lives once and for all!

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